Make wise use of slow business time

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At work and at home you have days, or sometimes a week, when normal activities and business slows down. In the "olden days" when things were slow, before all of the high-tech, super-charged distractions showed up, you would put up a sign that said, "Gone Fishing."

I haven't seen such a sign in many years. Slow times can give opportunities for a variety of important and valuable tasks. Here are some ideas to consider during those times:

Give yourself permission to rest, relax and enjoy something you haven't done in a while. Go fishing or go to a movie.

Sit and talk with one or more employees (or friends). Reflect on some successes or failures to identify ways to enhance your products or services. Share insights, ideas and questions.

Make courtesy calls to folks. Thank them for their business and ask for their ideas of how you can improve.

Do some of those often forgotten or missed tasks of cleaning, fixing or general maintenance.

Research how other businesses in your industry do things differently. Learn from them. Create unique, creative and fun ways to interact with and involve your customers.

Visit some of your competitors either as a mystery shopper or talk directly with the owner. Share questions or challenges you face and ask how they face similar situations.

Consider building a partnership with one or more of your competitors.

Identify how you can improve the image of your facility or an area of your store. Can you brighten things up, rearrange things or add a sign to say, "We are glad YOU are here?"

Do products exist that haven't moved for a long time that you could donate in service to the community?

Bring in lunch for your employees. Don't forget to join them and chat a bit.

Pretend to be a customer walking into your store. Use "fresh eyes" to see things you normally are blind to or ignore. Share your insights with all your employees. Have them do the same activity.

Have all employees share ideas of ways to make your environment more welcoming and convenient. Make sure you have the customer as the focus of how you do business.

Invite a few regular customers and potential customers to gather with you to share their thoughts on what you do well and how you can improve. You could do this in a simple way in your workplace or at a restaurant, or do a more formal focus group. This is a great way to affirm that customers are a part of your team.

Take a random customer or a couple of your employees to lunch.

As you are in the midst of your regular, more busy days, create a list of "tasks to do on slow days." Next time, you will be ready.

Bernie Linnartz, of Empowerment Experts, is a consultant, coach and facilitator of individuals, teams, families and organizations. Comments, questions and suggested topics are welcome. Cell (575) 770-4712 or email bernie356@me.com

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