All businesses experience slow periods, often due to seasonality. For those of us in the housing industry, sales are usually booming in spring and summer and drop off during fall and winter. While that's to be expected, it doesn't mean this is a time to relax or slack off. In fact, what you do during the off season matters just as much for your business as what you do during the peak season. By being proactive when business is slow, you'll set yourself up for success and be better prepared to tackle the busy season when it arrives. So, what should you focus on during your downtime? Here are five activities to help you stay productive and keep your business healthy over the next few months:
Nurture client relationships. Staying in touch with past clients not only contributes to repeat business but is also a great way to obtain referrals. Play up the holiday season by sending personalized holiday cards or gifts, and stay connected by sending value-added marketing or industry-relevant updates. For instance, share an article on personal finance tips for the holidays or an infographic on where the market is headed and what that means for your customers. This is also the perfect opportunity to ask recent customers for referrals and reviews. Check out this article on how to ask for customer reviews.
Generate new leads. If your customers tend to fall into a longer sales cycle, it makes sense to start gathering leads well before the peak season arrives. Doing so gives you time to educate, establish trust, and be there to guide them until they're ready to buy. Along with your standard lead-generation strategies, try a new marketing push to expand your reach. Some ideas include: running a social media campaign or contest; purchasing pay-per-click ads; spending time optimizing your SEO; or hosting a live seminar.
Grow your network. A strong network of referral partners is integral to your success, which is why you should always be working to grow your professional relationships. Attend networking events to meet new people in your industry, and reach out to current referral partners to discuss ways you can work together. To help get the conversation going, suggest creating a co-marketing campaign with a referral partner you trust. Here's a helpful article on why and how to co-market.
Sharpen your skills. Are you up-to-date on the latest industry best practices? Do you need to renew a license or certification? Would learning a new skill give you an edge over the competition? The slow season is the perfect time to address these questions and ensure you're investing in your professional development. Whether you take an online course, attend a seminar, or carve out time to read more industry articles each day, use this time wisely to grow your knowledge and hone your skills. Lynda.com, FutureLearn, and Coach.me are great online resources to help you get started.
Plan for the next year. If you haven't begun planning for 2018, now is the time to start. Before you set new goals, first reflect on your victories and losses over the past year, so you know what strategies to keep and what to change. In addition, conduct a competitive analysis to identify your top competitors' strengths and weaknesses. Determine what you can adopt from their success, as well as how you can stand out in areas where they lack. Once this is done, set sales goals and create a marketing plan and budget to help you meet them.