SAN FRANCISCO — For most of you, summer represents a seasonal downturn in business. For those whose summer is a busy time, you may apply the following suggestions to your slowest period of the year. Either way, there are opportunities in the entire range of business components.
Reach out beyond your normal retail customer base.
One common traditional outreach program that has filled summertime sales gaps has been school band and choir uniform cleaning. This can be further developed with more schools, churches, and other institutions, such as professional symphony orchestras, theater groups and performers.
Another seasonal occurrence that can provide volume business arises in the form of camps for both children and adults. Most of them are much more service-oriented than the “roughing it” environment you may be imagining. They provide laundry and drycleaning to the participants via third party suppliers like you.
A further source of work is presented by business education conferences. Famous examples are college advanced management programs. The majority of colleges and universities sponsor extended executive education programs with a variety of themes, such as: leadership, management, finance for non-financial managers.
Other programs focus on adult learning of all types including great courses and academic pursuits, as well as skills development of all types. The list is endless!
Search your local college and university programs for the fabricare services needed by sponsors and participants.
Educational and other institutions are working to keep their facilities revenue-producing during breaks in their regular academic schedules. Visit most campuses during “breaks” and you will be surprised at the number of people on campus participating in short-term programs like Rhodes Scholars.
Remember to ask about the linen needs (both residence and dining) as well as the apparel cleaning.
To appreciate the magnitude of this sales opportunity, review a list of all the event venues in your area.
You will be astounded at the number of sites that exist for general or special purpose usage. For example, Kansas City has 292 locations listed for “parties” alone.
There is a tremendous amount of work to be done for both repetitive use and for décor care. Ask if they have drapes, decorative pillows, that need periodic cleaning.
Schedule these projects whenever they can release them for the intermittent cleaning.
These opportunities can be greatly enhanced by involving the entire associate team. Paying a small commission on these projects will tempt your employees to approach their social and family contacts to let them know the unique and helpful services you can provide.
PROCESS AND PRODUCTION CHANGES
Off-season is a logical time to make desired changes in your plant and processes.
The temporary disruption caused by equipment movement and efficiency layout changes can best be diminished when the workload is not overwhelming the plant and workforce.
Staff can become familiar with new systems when they are under less immediate time pressure. Training classes can be scheduled away from the continuous customer interaction removing the anxiety customers and staff may feel as a result of visible front-line training.
Examples of process changes that can benefit from off-season timing include converting to a new or upgraded Point-of-Sale (POS) system, mark-in or barcoding upgrades, and customer service and interaction upgrades.
Summer is a beneficial season to hold your planning retreat with key team members and to get them away from the daily challenges all at one time to focus on the ideal future of the company and how to achieve it.
An attractive outdoor venue and comfortable casual apparel can inspire the willingness to open the discussion to more creativity and original thinking.
What changes should you make in your product line to better align it with the needs of your customers and their lifestyles?
Expanded wash and fold services have augmented the narrow traditional “dryclean only” image adapting to a more casual lifestyle that is so full that doing one’s own laundry seems like a waste of scarce valuable time.
Ultrasonic cleaning is another current example of adaptation in product line that extends your service.
Pricing deserves continual focused review to determine right-pricing based on covering costs, profit and consumer value.
Is your current physical and mobile footprint optimized or is it outdated and in need of realignment?
Whatever your key professional or personal goals, summer is a beneficial time to move them forward.
To read Part 1, go HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].