3 Creative Ways to Avoid the Winter Slump

Don’t let winter woes get the best of you. Stay busy when the seasonal slowdown hits.

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Sometimes summers are so hectic that by the time winter rolls around you’re ready for a break and it’s a welcome relief. But it can also leave you with an uneasy feeling knowing you’ll be bringing in less income. 

If that’s the case, it may be time to look at your options and consider making some changes. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Change your focus. Remember that income is not profit. A winter slowdown means less income but not necessarily less profit if you can cut your expenses by an equal amount. That generally means labor costs — but it doesn’t necessarily have to mean laying people off.

The trick is to not over-hire permanent staff. If you have access to reliable temps in the summer — retirees, students, seasonal winter workers — this could solve your problem. Ideally, you’d use the same people each year. 

2. Add complementary services. A lot of portable restroom companies add snow plowing or rent storage trailers in the winter, says Karen Holm, CEO of On Site Sanitation Inc. in St. Paul, Minn. She and her husband Dave, the president, came up with a different solution to the seasonal slowdown.

Although events die out in the winter in Minnesota, Dave says construction keeps going. This is what gave them an idea. They saw that their construction customers had additional requirements in the winter — namely, for temporary heating equipment and ground thawing services.

The company began offering these climate control products and services using its existing trucks, software and staff, which increased its winter workload and avoided layoffs. As a further adjunct to that they also started renting video surveillance equipment and motion detection systems.

3. Branch out. Another option is to consider increasing your service territory to include areas where winter construction or activities are strong. This could involve anything from traveling a little farther than usual — to the mountains, for example — or opening a satellite office in another city or state. The Holms did this one year during an economic downturn but the same principle applies to a seasonal slump.

“During the downturn we had equipment we wanted to utilize so we did some research to find the best market,” says their son Russ. That research pointed to Omaha, Neb. — where they’ve now got a satellite office renting out climate control products and luxury restroom trailers — because it wasn’t as affected by the recession as other places.

Winter’s a good time to take a hint from the shorter days and recharge your batteries. Less work also frees you up to clean, repair, build, dream, do some marketing and get staff vacations out of the way. But if you’re suffering from reduced income don’t despair. Whether you consider these suggestions or do some serious brainstorming of your own to come up with ideas, there is a solution to the problem.



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