By: Mia Huntington
While everyone loves the nice weather, long weekends at the cottage, and the relaxed pace of summer, warm weather often hits businesses hard. Unless you’re in tourism or boast an amazing outdoor patio, summer can sometimes mean sales slump. Productivity decreases and employees are either on holidays or physically present but mentally checked out. Now that fall is here and the back-to-school rush is over, it’s time to take stock — is your business back on track?
Whether you’re an eCommerce entrepreneur or have owned and operated the same retail shop for years, here are some tips to get your small business out of the summer haze.
1. Focus on the big picture. Many owners can get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks of running their business, like providing exceptional customer service and ensuring smooth operations, while neglecting an overall perspective of the master plan. Fortunately, the break summer provided should have helped clear your mind, making you better able to tackle the bigger picture from a more nuanced point of view. Ask yourself: Are you on target to meet your 2017 revenue and profit goals? What areas are currently the most profitable? How many new clients have you gained this year? The answers to these questions will help you develop a reasonable but ambitious plan to finish out the year and start setting objectives for 2018.
2. Take inventory. Once you consider your revenues, it’s time to have a closer look at your expenses. There’s almost always somewhere you can cut costs without cutting corners or quality — you can often get a better rate or services upgrade simply by making an inquiry. Review the pricing on your telecommunications services, insurance, payroll administration, banking plans and office supplies to see where you can get a better deal with the same company or by switching to another provider. Saving on expenses will boost your bottom line.
3. Upgrade your tech. Now’s the time to make sure your information and that of your customers is safeguarded and protected. Install or update your antivirus software on your computer and devices, and double check that all your partners and service providers — from your payment processor to your cloud storage — are invested in security. At Elavon, we are a leader in upgrading customers to the latest technology solutions standards, protecting your business with secure solutions and an exceptional uptime service rate of 99.99% and 24/7 support. We also offer secure mobile and wireless payment processing solutions that offer encryption and tokenization capabilities to protect data both in transit and at rest.
4. Go beyond Thanksgiving. Think outside the box when planning fall promotions and offers. Most businesses will give customers special deals for traditional, well-known holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween. Stand out from the crowd by offering your promotions during more obscure holidays, like Make a Difference Day on October 28. Try finding something that’s directly related to your business, too. For example, hobby shop owners can bring in more business during Game and Puzzle Week on the third week of November, while restauranteurs or frozen yogurt store owners can take advantage of National Parfait Day on November 25.
5. Streamline. Whether it’s your professional email or your payment processor, you’ll save time and money by integrating and consolidating at every point in your workflow. Think bundling your phone and internet, and using a single platform for email and file transfers. For an easy-to-use, flexible and secure mobile payment solution that allows you to use a single processing company for in-person, online or on-the-go, check out Converge from Elavon. Converge lets you accept credit, debit and electronic gift cards plus more innovative payment methods like Apple Pay and Android Pay wherever your business takes you.