If business is booming, you’re working hard, and you’re making great money… more power to you. Keep it up!

But most businesses also go through periods of downtime – sometimes due to seasonal variance, sometimes due to the local economy, and there are plenty of other causes as well.

Whatever the cause of your slowdown may be, it’s important to take advantage of the time that you have available. Of course you’d rather be busy serving customers, but if you take advantage of the free time you have now, you can lay the groundwork for future success. Here are four specific ideas:

  1. Improve relationships with clients and employees. Let’s face it: when business is great and you’re busy, you probably don’t spend quite as much time connecting with your clients as you should, right? Take advantage of downtime by deepening your relationship with current clients – ask them about their kids, their hobbies, local sports teams… anything to build that relationship. As for employees, take some extra time to get to know them better and let them know that you appreciate their hard work. When business picks up and you don’t have time to supervise your employees closely, their loyalty will be priceless.
  2. Refine your long term business plan. You have a long term plan, right?  (If you don’t, creating one should be priority number one.) But if you are like many business owners, you haven’t laid eyes on it in months. Take advantage of this time and update it… down the road, you will be glad you did.
  3. Rethink your branding. Remember that every interaction you have with a client either builds or hurts your brand. Make sure that the correspondence you send out, even bills, are properly branded with your logo and company colors. If you don’t have a logo that you are happy with, now is a great time to get with a designer and come up with something that truly expresses the personality of your company.
  4. Increase your marketing activity. If business is down, could it be that you are not actively marketing. Could you be doing much more? Who could you be building marketing partnerships with? Often when I see a company struggling, there generally is also too little marketing effort being made – Please be sure not to get caught in that trap.

No business owner is happy about extra downtime, but it’s important to take advantage of the time when it’s available. Work hard on improving your operation, and when things do pick up again, you’ll be able to capitalize on all your hard work!