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Making the Most of the Post-busy Season

Well, we’re about to finish yet another busy season—fighting through long hours, working weekends and meeting the customers’ demands. Now that it’s nearly over, we have money in the bank, low inventory levels and satisfied customers. In short, success!

Making the Most of the Post-busy Season

Use these eight tips to prepare for 2023 and create growth opportunities for the rest of this year. 

By Fran Carville, CRM

(Originally published in the May/June 2022 issue of Insights.)

Well, we’re about to finish yet another busy season—fighting through long hours, working weekends and meeting the customers’ demands. Now that it’s nearly over, we have money in the bank, low inventory levels and satisfied customers. In short, success!

With the busy season comes a touch of exhaustion. As my grandmother used to say, “I’m plum tuckered out.” We, in theory, have earned the right to kick back and relax. But if that’s how we spend our downtime, we will miss out on great opportunities.

This is the moment to make a conscious decision not to waste time. So let’s use this post-busy season to work on plans you made but never enacted or get started on something new that you have been thinking about.

Take these eight tips to help you get off the couch and get moving again, with an eye on boosting your company’s growth in 2022 and beyond.

Examine What Went Right

Many times we want to move on, but that approach guarantees that next year will be no better than the busy season we just completed. Now is the time to evaluate what worked well, what could have worked a little better and what did not work at all.

Changes might be small, like pulling all inventory in the morning to be more organized during the day or assigning one person to answer calls so everyone else can stay focused on other tasks. Changes can be major, too, like investing in an additional laser to reduce overtime or reassigning jobs based on strengths. However, many times, simple changes help the most.

Capitalize on the Second Season

It’s time to prepare for the fourth quarter. Most retailers enjoy an increase in sales during the holidays, and awards retailers have a chance to increase sales with personalized gift items. Your current inventory already has merchandise that can be repackaged as holiday gifts: desk accessories, glassware, golf items, faith-based items, picture frames and many other awards.

The fourth quarter is the perfect time to reach out to corporate customers looking to recognize employees. Fall sports leagues can be a good source of revenue, as can companies that reward loyal customers at the year’s end.

Revisit Your Marketing Calendar

Even with our best intentions, marketing is often put on the back burner and forgotten. If you have no marketing plan, start working on one for 2023 rather than trying to put something together in a rush. Be sure to include a timetable to implement your new plan as well.

Make Room for the New

“Out with the old, in with the new” is a phrase that certainly applies to retail. So first, the new. Somehow, it seems that all the new items you purchased at the Las Vegas show arrive in the middle of busy season. We often are much too busy to think about new displays at that time, so the boxes get shoved into the stockroom and possibly forgotten. We have a joke in our shop—that is 100% true—that says merchandise will sell better if the customers can actually see the new products. 

Also, consider your old products, the ones sitting in the same spot, gathering dust and not selling. No customers seem to be interested in those items you bought 10 years ago. But you just can’t throw away merchandise. Move the products to a different location or mark them as a “deal of the month.” The bottom line: Find a way to move out the old and make room for the new.

Take the Customer’s View

During slow times, take a few minutes and see your business through the eyes of a customer. Does your showroom look exactly like it did five years ago? Is it dusty, cluttered or boring? It can be hard to take an honest assessment, but it’s very important to your company’s growth. Customers want to shop in a pleasant atmosphere with new merchandise.

Tackle the Boring Work

Updating your files, whether paper or electronic, is a boring task, don’t you think? We put it off and pretend it isn’t a problem. But how’s that working out for you? 

Like it or not, now is the time to get your files organized and up to date. Make necessary notes in your customers’ files so that next busy season will run more smoothly. Don’t think of this task as boring but as a necessity for your shop to be a well-oiled machine.

Implement Web Upgrades

You may have taken the time to update your showroom, but when was the last time you updated your virtual store? It’s time to update your site and make it customer friendly. If customers see outdated catalogs or merchandise on your site, chances are you lost them. If customers can’t order online, they may go elsewhere. A major update can be costly and time-consuming, but you are up to the challenge.

Treat Yourself

You may be thinking, “All of those ideas sound great, but I am just too tired and burned out to do anything but the bare minimum.” It’s easy to feel that way after the busy season is over. Before you start to beat yourself up for being the only ones in the awards industry whose get-up-and-go has gotten-up-and-gone, maybe you should consider taking a short break. Maybe, just maybe, the first thing on your project list should be giving yourself a chance to relax and rejuvenate. If a “real” vacation is impossible right now, consider enjoying a long weekend. Take a break, and you’ll return to your business ready to go.

If you plan to spend the last half of 2022 getting your business ready for continued success and growth, you’ll end the year having taken advantage of all your opportunities.

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