Summer. Beautiful days, warm breezes, beach trips – and minds that aren’t focused on business. And while that may mean you have to work a little harder to keep your team on task, it also means that your clients are a little less involved themselves.
Your best client might be on a three-week vacation, and another may be taking his whole team on a week-long company retreat. Everyone is heading out of the office for a few days here, a week or two there, and the result is that business isn’t coming in consistently.
The dreaded summer lull is upon us.
The trick is to make sure that you’re taking advantage of the downtime to lay the foundations for growth, strengthening weak spots, and making plans for the future.
1. Evaluate Staffing Needs
How swamped were you during the previous quarter? If you felt like you were missing a valuable skillset or just an extra pair of hands to keep the coffee flowing, now’s the time to sit down and think about how you can strengthen your team – or lose dead weight.
When you’re in the thick of it, it can be really hard to figure out who’s not pulling their weight and who’s pulling way too much weight, and to develop staffing solutions to solve these problems.
Team-building isn’t easy, and it takes time to onboard the right team member; what better time than the summer, when business is slower and you can give new hires the attention they need to really shine?
2. Develop Skills
A lighter workload means that you and your team can start growing your skillsets to bring more value to your company and your clients. Sites like Lynda offer tutorials in pretty much everything, and you can start taking these online skill development courses during breaks from client work. That will help you offer more services and operate more efficiently by helping you get a better handle on the tools and techniques that your job demands.
Look into certifications the team can take.
It’s also a great way to encourage your team members to look into what they love doing; if there’s something you need that someone on your team would love learning how to do, here’s your opportunity to retrain a team member for a better-fit position.
3. Build a Plan
It can be hard during the usual daily grind to step back and get a big-picture view of your business. But the break afforded by these lulls means you have exactly that opportunity. Gather input from your team and get a top-down view of where your company is, where your company isn’t, and how to get it from Point A to Point B.
Once you have that big-picture view, you can start figuring out what you need to do and how to do it. And in fact, putting this kind of project in place is a great way to make summer lulls productive overall, because these tend to be really involved – and the last thing you need is a ton of client work getting in between and gumming up the works as you prepare this big push.
4. Build Relationships
Your clients aren’t all on vacation. Maybe now’s the time to take one of them to dinner or a movie or, I dunno, bowling or whatever. Getting to know your clients on a personal level helps build bonds of affection between the both of you, which builds trust and consequently makes it easier for you to do good work for them, and makes it more likely they’ll cut you some slack in the event they’re unhappy.
Business is all about relationships, and the closer you can move a business relationship to honest-to-goodness friendship, the better; it smoothes the lines of communication and helps you get a better sense of how they think and operate. And who knows? It could turn into more business down the line.
5. Take a Break!
Not working is a big part of what makes working possible. It may sound counterintuitive, but hey, here we are. We all need some down time.
Take advantage of the lull, and relax. You’ll come back refreshed, recharged, and better able to do make business work.
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