How to Make the Most Out of Your Slow Season
The winter months signal colder temperatures, ice, and snow in Northeast Ohio.
For many trades, the changing of seasons also signifies the start of the slow season, where businesses ramp down to a leisurely pace.
Naturally, business owners pulling 70-hour-work weeks also see their hours reduced. Less work, less work time.
While it’s wise to use the free time to take a well-deserved break, it’s easy to check out in the relaxation and downtime, putting your business at a disadvantage for the coming year.
Your off-season is prime time to prepare for the upcoming year, and as the old saying goes, “champions are made in the off-season.”
Making the most out of your slow season requires a business coach or accountability partner, who will help you identify your business’s unique challenges as well as the action steps that you need to take to put your business in the best position possible entering peak season.
Here are three strategies for how you can make the most of your slow season.
Partner with a business coach to hold you accountable.
As a business owner, it’s not always easy to see your business’s blindspots. The inner workings of your team could be lost to you. And as a result, your business’s productivity and profitability could be hurting without you knowing it.
Or, on the contrary, you could be in a situation where you’re aware of your team’s issues but you’re not sure how to resolve them.
Whichever the case, a coach offers a third party perspective for your business.
A coach will ask you questions to get a pulse on your business, and then he or she can provide insights and solutions to your specific challenges. He or she can also help you put together an action plan that will drive growth and solve your business’s problems.
A business coach is especially helpful during your slow season, where you might get laxed with your work. He or she acts as an accountability partner, meeting with you regularly and making sure that you’re making the necessary strides to reach your goals.
Build a high-functioning team
One of the biggest challenges for any business is finding and keeping the right people. It’s especially difficult for the trades to find skilled workers because of our country’s labor shortage.
Solving recruitment and retention issues requires creativity, ingenuity, and dedicated time.
During your slow season, you can use your new-found time to engage your current employees by offering them professional development training, team-building opportunities and coaching.
Investing in your people is a great way to boost team morale, develop a leadership pipeline, and create a career path for them – all the right ingredients for an engaged and happy workforce.
It’s also advisable to spend your slow season bringing in new team members to the fold.
Aside from the typical job postings and career fairs, you may want to consider establishing relationships with colleges, universities, or trade schools.
Starting an apprenticeship or internship program in conjunction with a local high school or trade school can help you build a steady stream of skilled workers.
You can also use the program as an opportunity to engage your current or more seniored employees by having them mentor an apprentice.
The mentorship will provide real-world training, help your business gain exposure, and allow you to assess whether the apprentices are good candidates for future employment.
Not sure which strategy to pursue?
A business coach can help you determine the right course of action to take for your business as you work together to build an amazing team.
Review your systems to improve efficiency
If you’ve been operating your business by the seat of your pants up until this point, the slow season is the optimal time to improve the efficiency of your actions across your organization.
Conversely, if you haven’t taken a hard look at your current systems in awhile, your off-season is the perfect opportunity to do so, too.
To systemize your business, start by identifying your core processes.
These are the ways you conduct your business – how you interact with your customers, hire employees, move customers through the sales process, deliver products, etc.
When you identify your processes, you’re able to simplify them, apply technology to them, document them, and improve them.
By systemizing your processes, you’ll identify inefficiencies, eliminate mistakes, increase your profitability, and make it easier for your people to manage other employees. Everyone will be on the same page, and your output will be predictable and consistent.
As the leader, you’ll also have more confidence in your ability to hand over control to your team when you know your business is a well-oiled machine.
Note: A word of caution here. While it’s important to document your processes, you don’t want to go overboard or you’ll create a bureaucracy, full of red tape and employees who just follow the rules.
You can avoid this from happening to your business if you partner with a business coach who will help you pare down your processes to only those that are most important to your business’s success.
If you want to take full advantage of your slow season, you’ll want to partner with a business coach to keep you accountable and to keep your business on track.
Together, you can use the lull time to build a strong team and systemize your business so you have a fully functioning machine already in place before your busy season begins. This may be the head start that you need for your most profitable year yet.