Dealing With Business Slow Downs
by Vishal P. Rao
When times are slow for your home-based business, chances are you won't have the luxury of waiting and seeing if things improve. You'll need to take steps quickly to get back on track.
These suggestions will help you get business back to normal:
1) Add Products And Services
During slow times, your very instinct might be to cut corners, but in the case of your catalog of products and services this could spell disaster. Instead, you want to select additions carefully based on the needs and desires of your clients.
Think of it this way: let's say you provide web design services. Your client hires you for the design work, then goes elsewhere to get a logo, hosting, and content. Having to hire four different companies just to complete one project is not cost-effective or time-efficient for your client.
So what if you could offer web design and hosting or web design and everything else necessary as well? Chances are you'd have a definite advantage over your competition.
Even if you don't have the skills or ability to handle those aspects of the project, you could team up with other companies like yourself who also want to boost business and give themselves a competitive edge.
No matter what product or service you primarily provide, you could find ways to provide additional necessities to your clients.
2) Step Up Customer Service
Hopefully, you already provide good service and support to your customers, and you are probably already aware of how critical this is to your business's success. But when times get rough, customer service is even more crucial and you need to go beyond the call of duty to convince clients that their business is important to you.
For example, you may want to guarantee responses within a few hours, instead of a few days. You may want to follow up with thank you cards or phone calls. If a problem does arise, act immediately to take care of it and rectify the situation to the client's satisfaction.
Remember not only is that customer's business at stake, but also the potential business of every single person he or she is acquainted with.
3) Market More
Business is slow; budgets are tight. So what usually gets trimmed first? Marketing. Do you know what the results are? Disaster!
When you conduct marketing, you are not selling yourself to generate business today or even tomorrow. Marketing is an investment in your business's future. In fact, research has shown that most marketing efforts don't pay off for at least six months.
So think about that. Let's say you cut back on marketing in June and you weather the economic down cycle, what's going to happen in December? Absolutely nothing! Because all of your potential clients have been won over by the marketing efforts of your competition which were conducted during the summer.
Instead of cutting back, a slow down is the time to boost marketing. Get back in touch with past clients, attend seminars, pass out fliers. After all, if work is slow, what else are you going to be spending your time doing?
4) Keep A Positive Attitude
Times are hard. Your nerves are on edge. You're feeling the pressure. When a past client calls to ask how things are going, do you tell them the truth and hope they take pity on you? Do you wallow in a self-defeating attitude? NO!
If you want to get through the hard times, you have to keep in mind two things:
A) No one is going to do business with a failing company and
B) Hard times are only temporary.
Let's think about this. If you called up a company about business and the representative says, "It will be great to be finally getting some new clients" or "Things have been horribly slow around here lately" are you going to trust them with your project? No.
The first thing you are going to be wondering is why they haven't been doing well. And that's what your potential clients will wonder about you as well.
So how do you keep from breaking down on the phone with your clients? By remembering that business is a cycle and just as things are bad now, they will turn around and you will be doing well again. The only thing permanent is giving up.
5) Branch Out
When things are slow with your business, you can take the opportunity to do all those things you always wanted to do but never had the time for.
Why not write some articles or an e-book related to your business, then sell them or publish them to earn more money and to further establish your credibility.
Or take a shot at teaching a class on e-commerce, computers, or a topic related to your business at a local college, vocational school, or adult learning center. Even if you don't get paid, the exposure could do great things for your business.
You could also start giving speeches, take some business or technology classes, or take on some part-time work that will give you more experiences that will help you compete in the market when things go back to normal.
Although ups and downs are simply an inevitable part of business, dealing with them effectively can make the difference between staying afloat or going under.
Vishal P. Rao is the owner of http://www.work-at-home-forum.com/
A fast growing online community of people who work from home.