Slow sign

Holiday festivities are over and a new year has begun. Despite resolutions offering new opportunities, many businesses are actually preparing for their slowest season of the year. The way you manage your business during these final cold months is crucial. Luckily, there are a few tricks to help you keep a strong budget and a happy crew even during a slump.

Know your business cycle

Every business cycle is different. For restaurants, holiday overspending and cold weather usually attribute to a decrease in business from January to March. Summer months are typically much more profitable, so it’s just a matter of time.

Prepare with seasonal hires and savings

Use the knowledge of your business cycle to prepare for the slow season. Hiring seasonal workers for expected spikes will help lower staffing costs when things are calm. Try to keep the remaining skeleton crew happy with as many shifts as possible.

You can also set aside a percentage of income when profits are large. A reserve will help you smooth over any cracks in your income throughout the year. The extra cash will also come in handy for making any necessary improvements and renovations during your slow season.

Create special promotions and partnerships

Keeping a steady cash flow is more important than huge profits when times get tight. Try slashing prices and creating special events to keep money moving. Play into the season with catchy themes to promote happy hours, open mic nights and two-for-one specials.

If you’re worried that your promotions won’t be successful alone, you could try partnering with a nearby shop. For example, an ice cream shop might partner with a nearby pizzeria to offer half-off hot fudge sundaes when you show your pizza’s receipt. This way, the ice cream shop gets a boost despite cold weather and the pizzeria can offer more value to their customers.

Focus on food quality and service

When business is slow, every customer counts. You can’t afford to lose customers by lowering quality. If anything, raise standards in the slow seasons since fewer customers allow more time to perfect each dish. If you need to cut food costs, consider offering a limited menu.

You’ll also want to use this time to focus on training your crew. Using your downtime to build a strong team will help retain existing customers and improve service when business increases.

All it takes is a few tricks to get through even the toughest times. Take the right precautions, manage your resources and focus on the essentials. You’ll be seeing summer’s sun in no time.