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Crisis or opportunity? Making the most of a quiet period in your business
Every business goes through quiet periods from time to time.
But knowing this is the case does not necessarily make these periods of low demand any less worrying when they affect your business. A sudden shortfall of new enquiries, leads or sales – the very things your business thrives on – can be challenging.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. No matter whether the downturn is as a result of global events, seasonality, or just the natural ebb and flow of business, with the right mindset, a quiet period can actually be an opportunity to enhance your organisation.
Here are eight things you can do to use a quiet time in your business effectively.
1: Make a personal connection
A quiet time is a great opportunity to reach out to your customers – particularly if they usually hear from your Sales or Support teams, rather than you personally.
Speaking to your clients at a personal level can foster vital relationships beyond your existing business agreement, demonstrating that your company has a human face and that you are actively involved in your business. This is particularly effective if your company has undergone a period of rapid growth in recent years: it shows your clients you care about their custom and that you’re on hand to help them if they need it.
This communication may well generate some revenue, as customers share details of projects they have in the pipeline, or could reignite leads and proposals that have gone quiet. But above all else, it will remind your customers that you’re still at the helm of a healthy, thriving business which is ready and able to assist them whenever they need.
2: Nurture your network
Your existing customers are not the only people you may want to consider getting in touch with during a quiet spell.
When business is booming, it can be hard to find the time to nurture and grow your network. But a quiet period will free you up to get yourself out there and talk about your business. There’s no telling what this might turn up: other companies in your industry could represent opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration, or professional contacts you have made through the years could unlock all sorts of untapped leads. It all starts with a conversation.
3: Audit your efficiency
During a downturn, the core functions of your business are all likely to be under much less pressure than usual. This presents the perfect opportunity to take a detailed look at how they’re operating and root out any inefficiencies.
Conduct a process audit: a forensic inspection of how your business functions, which can isolate the areas where improvements could be made. Work through your sales, client onboarding, account management and recruitment systems, looking in particular for things which are done a certain way because “that’s how we’ve always done it.” You may find that parts of your processes could be optimised or automated, significantly enhancing your processes, your team and your business as a whole.
4: Survey your team
With demand temporarily down, you are not the only person in your business with more time than usual. Your staff will have gaps in their schedules, too. This is a rare chance to hold one-to-one meetings and check in with your employees, or conduct an internal survey asking what they think could be improved.
As well as boosting morale and strengthening interpersonal bonds within your team, this is an excellent way to get to grips with the finer details of how your company operates. If you’re looking to audit your efficiency and implement some new processes, who better to discuss this with than the people most closely acquainted with them? Find out their pain points and listen to their concerns: it’s incredibly valuable feedback.
5: Implement your process audit
If your process audit and employee survey have identified the areas in your business that would benefit from a process being put in place, or where existing processes need updating, now is a great time to implement the necessary changes.
The first step is to establish your goals. What specific results would a new or improved process deliver? Total clarity on what you’re trying to achieve is vital, and should be shared with your team. Work with them to make and test the changes you put in place. Downtime is a real opportunity to investigate new software that can optimise your processes, allowing your team to get familiar with new tools before using them in earnest.
Remember that processes should be implemented strategically, in a way that empowers your employees to do their jobs with maximum efficiency.
6: Study your industry
When was the last time you read up on your industry?
It can be hard to find the time for this while handling the day-to-day running of your business, but identifying trends in your field and knowing what your competitors are doing can pay dividends.
Read the trade press, follow developments online and identify industry events that you could attend. You could uncover new opportunities, a gap in the market, or a vital competitive edge over other businesses in your sector.
7: Boost your profile
Reaching new customers and reactivating existing clients requires making your company visible. And as your company’s figurehead, that means making yourself more visible, too. Could your company set out a stall at one of those industry events you identified earlier? Perhaps they’re even looking for an expert speaker? You have a wealth of industry experience – share what you know and present yourself as a thought leader.
Beyond your industry, look to boost your profile at a local level too. Identify community initiatives looking for sponsorship, or local business networks you could join.
Now is the time to get your business on everyone’s radar.
8: Plan for every contingency
As we’ve established, peaks and troughs are natural in any business.
While this means that an upturn in your business is not far away, it also means that this downturn is unlikely to be the last quiet period you will experience. So what can you learn from your situation right now that will help in similar circumstances in the future? What resources or processes would alleviate your position? This is a great time to address your contingency planning, as you are never more acutely aware of your company’s strengths and limitations.
Use this information to shape your contingency plans, and you will be more resilient the next time your business faces a challenge like this.
Conclusion: Crisis or opportunity?
As with so many things in business, whether your quiet spell is a crisis or an opportunity is a matter of perspective.
If you find yourself in a period of low demand, take a step back. You may well find that a break from the usual day-to-day running of your business is actually an opportunity to work on all of the things that are otherwise hard to find the time for. With fewer calls, meetings and deadlines demanding your attention, you can focus on strengthening your company so you come out of the downtime as an even more efficient organisation.
The upturn is just around the corner. Use your time wisely, and you’ll be ready to capitalise on it.
Do you want to strengthen your company by implementing better processes? Schedule a call with Process Bliss to discover how we can help you to prepare for your upturn.