Summer Slowdown – Get creative, coach your people, manage cash and assets.

Image (c) Robin Bartholick / Getty Images

Summer…gotta love it and hate it. 

Especially when it drives down employee motivation, engagement, sales and profitability while cost continue.  Here are Ten ways to be creative and innovative during the summer months:

Before the summer! Analyze the seasonality over the last several years and plan for the slow down: Every business has a seasonality.  With a little planning you can reduce the impact.

Put on your Coaching hat: Tell your people the outcome you want for the summer, and get their ideas and feed back.  Let them suggest how to achieve the goals, you may be surprised.

Do you use temps or contract labor that you can expand or contract as needed?  Now is the time to tell them to have a nice summer.  Another great idea is to contact the Business School in your area or in your capital and replace them with summer interns (unpaid or paid up to you).  You get a chance to look at new people who may work out to be great empolyees for the future.  One of my coaching clients did this and now every key person in the company was a previous summer intern.

Use Factoring to accelerate payments from customers:  Your customers business slows down also, as does their payments to you.  Cash gets critical at times like this.  Plan ahead and set up either a line of credit or a factoring relationship.  Factoring is where a financial company advances 80-90% of invoices for a fee of 1.5 to 3% of the amount advanced.  Having this set up in advance can be a God send.

Planning for end of the year: Now is a perfect time to plan with your team how to end the year strong.  To take stock of where you started the year, where you are now, and where you want to go and then plan how you are going to get there.

Thank your Clients: Practice Giftology-Reacquaint yourself with old and existing clients: Go over your list of clients, if there are past clients, call and ask to visit them during lunch.  Do they same with your existing clients.  Tell them you are bringing several gallons of Ice Cream to celebrate the summer and thank them for their business.  Here is a great article on Giftology:

Review your cash conversion cycle to see how you can shorten. How many days does it take you from the time the order is placed and your product is manufactured or produced for you to deliver to the customer, invoice them and await for payment.  Here is a good article.

Determine if customers are on a calendar or year accounting.  Many companies especially if any are Federal, State or Local have to exhaust their budget by year end and you may be able to negotiate a purchase during your slow time.

Customer Round Tables: This is great way to build key relationships to see where your customers are going from a growth standpoint. You can use this intelligence to place you and your company in their growth curve with the services and the products that meet their need.  Do this as a mini retreat, but make it fun!  Have offsite activities and maybe a relevant speaker.  I have done this many times for Clients giving their Customers ideas on how to grow their companies.  To do this have two to three hour round tables preferably in the morning.  The first morning is to see where your customers see the future in their industry and the second morning is to share your ideas of where your industry is going.  They get to network with other companies hear their stories.  You get to bounce ideas off them and talk to them about what they need, and what innovation they are seeing in the market place.

Hold “Summer Sizzler” sales to stimulate sales and get rid of inventory:  Everyone likes a sale and you can generate buzz, clean out slow moving inventory and generate cash.

Schedule maintenance or repairs: With many people out of the office the summer may be a good time to perform repairs or maintenance or clean up

Review your Operational, Accounting, and Marketing: Now is a great time to look back and measure all your systems and procedures to make any changes that you can.

Invest in yourself: Summer is a great time to reflect and spend time with family.  It is also great time to review your personal goals figure out what is working, what is not, make adjustments and get back on track.

Billie is a “recovering serial entrepreneur” winner of Entrepreneur of the Year and placed on the Inc. 500 twice and lives in Charleston South Carolina.  Billie facilitates Forums, Executive Round Tables and Coaches businesses to Hyper Growth: