Imagine working a 9-5 job - crazy, right? Your company gave you two weeks off, and you didn’t have a vacation planned. The kids are at camp and you have the house to yourself. While you may spend a few days catching up on your favorite tv shows, you probably are making some big plans around the house. Perhaps you are going to power wash the deck, install some new light fixtures, remodel a bedroom, or spend time learning a new hobby.
Now back to reality, entrepreneur! While a 2-week vacation would be nice, most shop owners don’t get that time off to work on their house. Rather, every print shop has their busy and slow seasons. Therefore those “tasks” around the house during your “vacation” can be mimicked to slow times at the shop.
Every shop is going to be slightly different. If your business is very school centric, you might be slow during the summers, but if your business focuses on a lot of construction companies, it may be just the opposite. Don’t worry too much! A lot of shops struggle with it. Slow season is inevitable, and it will happen. As a business owner you should expect the best, but plan for the worst.
The number one rule to get through the slow season is to make sure you have built up your bank. The last thing you want to do is shut down, or let employees go that you will later need. Instead of checking out during the slow season, spend some time “housekeeping”. You will be surprised at how much you can really get done!
Cross Train your Team
You have time right? Put on a training camp and get your office staff pulling squeegees and reclaiming screens. Teach your screen printer how to order apparel and check in items. By cross training, you will not only gain respect amongst your staff, but it will create more transferable employees when you are busy!
Invest in Education
Are you not comfortable with 4 color process, or discharge printing? Invest in your staff and send them to training. Make it a company trip and go with them. Whether it is at a trade show, or at a manufacturers' facility, you can spend this time building your staff’s skills to take your shop to the next level
Contact Every Customer
Sounds crazy right? Divide and conquer. Spend an entire week visiting customers, calling them, and letting them know how much you appreciate them. Bring them a small gift and call it customer appreciation week! This should help sales significantly and create loyal customers.
Your production staff can re-organize the ink room, clean their presses, and fold all those miscellaneous shirts that piled up over the last few months. Have them deep clean their equipment and bring it up to shop standards. Have your artists clean out their computer from useless files and old artwork. Maybe, have them organize the Dropbox! Use this time to to get yourself organized, your computer, finances, and any office work that really needs to get done.
Sit down with your team and make a strategic plan for the next 6 months. Make it as detailed as a Football Coach’s playbook. Talk openly, set goals, and spend time identifying where you need to go. Shops often don’t do this because they are too busy. Here is no excuse.
Put on a Community Event
Maybe you want to do a poster printing workshop, or try out live printing at the 4th of July Fest. Go outside the box here and open your doors. You will be surprised, and your staff might enjoy it.
Sell Sell Sell
Learn about Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, and Instagram Ads and try a campaign. Print out flyers and leave them at a local grocery store. Email local organizations. Email your customers a coupon. Print t-shirts for your team to wear around town. Do anything you can to generate more sales.
Whether it is a vacation, a family day, a lunch outing, or go-carting with the staff, make sure to enjoy yourself and appreciate the business you are running. While we want to be busy 12 months in the year, it is important to take a break and re-energize.