- By Jenny Cahill-Jones
The warmer months bring additional challenges for your business… are you ready?
The sunshine months can mean different things for different businesses, but one thing is certain; summer means changing up some aspects of the way you operate. If you’re running a restaurant in a tourist-friendly city, that could mean planning for additional daily covers and extending your opening hours, while services such as medical offices are planning for their annual vacations which means closing up shop for a few weeks.
No matter what business you’re in, you’ll get the most out of the summer if you take some time now to get prepared. The good news is we’re here to help. Our Summer Business Checklist will make sure you’re all set for success.
Step 1: Refresh Your Online Presence
If you’re changing your opening hours over the summer months, make sure the change is reflected in all your online listings – there’s nothing more frustrating to a customer than setting out to visit your store, only to find you’re now closed on Sundays. Don’t be daunted by the task – tools like SweetIQ’s Local Listings Management can take care of this for you. If you’re planning to be closed for a few weeks, remember update your company voicemails accordingly and if you deal with regular customers or patients, consider sending a short email to let them know when you’ll be back in action.
Next up, reviews. Have you checked yours lately? A recent survey found that 92% of customers read a review before visiting a business, and over 70% said positive reviews help them to trust a local business more1. So don’t be fooled – reviews really do matter. Take one hour this week to read and respond to your latest reviews, and if you do receive negative feedback, remember to stay calm, respond politely and resolve the issue a quickly as possible. Reviews are where your customers go to give honest feedback, so take their comments seriously.
For more on reviews, read this post.
Step 2: Plan for Promotions
If you’re in the food service or retail sectors, summer is the ideal time to launch a special offer. Be creative – you could tie a promotion to a sporting event, holiday weekend or a festival happening in your city – and try to make your promotion time-limited to create urgency with your customers. Remember that a lot of your customers will be getting ready for their annual vacations – is there something you can do to save them time and money and get ahead of the competition at the same time? Think literally: Do you sell sunscreen? If the weather is set for a super-hot weekend, remind your customers and set up a flash promotion. It can be that simple.
For longer-lasting offers, you can take the summer as a theme and run with it. Here’s an example of a nice, easy to implement online promotion from Hello Fresh. Playing on the fact that we all want to be out and about during the summer so have less time to spend at the grocery store, they offer a limited-time discount for new subscribers.
Potential customers who have been following the brand but not yet committed to a subscription could be tempted to take the plunge.
Step 3: Create Summer Ready Content
With vacations, long weekends and school holidays, your customers are likely to spend less time at their desks and more time out and about over the summer. At this time of year it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re visible on mobile. Ensuring your site is mobile friendly is key – as is keeping up with all of your social media channels.
Do you have some dedicated customers who would record a short video testimonial that you can use to update your website? Can you take some snaps of happy customers in your store to share on social? Do any of your staff members have expertise to share – for example giving out easy DIY tips for home improvement projects, or summer recipe ideas.
Do you run a restaurant or cafe? Consider creating a special summer dish or cocktail to tie in with a local event, e.g. a music festival, then share on social media, offering a discount for any customers that follow your brand and order the dish. This creates engagement combined with the feel-good factor of a special treat – potent tools for getting customers through the door and keeping them coming back for more.
Step 4: Get Involved in Local Events
If you run a brick and mortar store, summer events run by your local chamber of commerce or small business association can be a great way of getting your name out there and attracting new potential customers. Maybe your local area is planning to organize a series of summer street sales, or a late-night shopping event. Make it it priority to keep up to date with events in your area and ensure your company is represented.
Local sporting events can also be a good way to get your brand noticed – can you sponsor a stand at a fun run or provide a prize giveaway for charity auction? Or could you hand out flyers to the crowd waiting in line at local football game? Find the events that have a synergy with your business and get your name out there!