Dealing With the Quiet Times

One of the biggest challenges in business, apart from managing staff, can be the dreaded periods where the work dries up, and the phones stop ringing. Often, managers don’t plan for the drought, and have no idea what to do, not only with themselves, but with all of their staff when it sets in.

Here are some ideas to help you deal with the situation at hand, and prosper when you come out the other side. Relax, there’s almost always light at the other end of the tunnel.

Tackle all of the piled up jobs and tasks
There are always jobs and important tasks that pile up while you’re busy, and lacking the energy to tackle them. While you’re busy, it’s easy to forget all about the little things that need to be done, and the tasks that got pushed to the bottom of your list of priorities. The quiet times are a great opportunity to tackle them, and get them out of the road, and, while some of them are things you should do all of the time, it’s not a bad idea to use the opportunity to do them anyway.

Take a good look at your financial position
Who do you owe money to, and who owes you money? Quiet times can be a great opportunity to chase your debtors, and negotiate with your creditors. Often this rather important task gets pushed aside while you worry too much about the core of your business. Print out a profit and loss statement, a list of debtors and creditors, and a balance sheet. Most importantly, take the time to understand and interpret these documents if you don’t already know! They could hold the answers to your current downturn.

Review your processes and procedures
Are you doing things intelligently? What are some of the mistakes your business has made in the past, and how can you negate the risks, and avoid trouble later on? Simple things, for example, like implementing delivery dockets, where your customers sign for goods on delivery, might just help you improve the way you do business in the future. Now is a good time to start getting organised, and it’s one less thing you’ve got to worry about once business picks up again.

Spring clean, and get out the vacuum cleaner
Studies have shown that employees are much more productive in a clean work environment. Get the staff to clean their desks, in and around the office, and get rid of any junk that you just don’t need. Can you organise important documents, manuals or books so they’re easier to access? Getting your workplace clean makes it easier for staff to find the things they need most, when they need them, especially once you get busy again.

Review your marketing strategies
Ideally, you don’t want to spend all of your money while business is slow. The best time to advertise is when you’ve got work, not when you haven’t. That’s usually a good indication that you’ve left it too late. However, the downturn in work might be a good time to make use of the items you’ve got laying around. Have you got any business cards, flyers, fridge magnet or posters laying around? The truth is, they’re no use to you in the store room, or on the cupboard shelf collecting dust. Get them out there. How can you attract new business? Make use of what you’ve got, and if you think it’s worthwhile, instigate some marketing strategies. Don’t forget to be mindful of your costs, though.

Get talking, and get thinking
Your staff, apart from being your most expensive asset, can also be your most valuable. Use the downtime to get talking. See how your staff are feeling, and get a bit of an idea of the general mood in and around the office. Unhappy staff are never productive. If they’re unhappy, has this contributed to the downturn in work? Brainstorm ideas on how you can improve business, working conditions, procedures and sales. How can you turn downtime in to prospering business? Your answer could lie right there in front of you, in the minds of your staff and team members. Get them out, and discuss them!