Every industry falls victim to a slow season, and screen printing is no exception. For screen printers, the lull usually comes during the cold winter months when people are busy with the holidays, it’s not warm enough for T-shirts, and the demand for promotional sports apparel, summer camps, and charity events comes to a close.
To successfully weather your seasonal production slowdown, employ these strategies in your shop management and day-to-day process.
Strategy 1: Anticipate the lull
Managing the slowdown begins with knowing when to expect it and how long it usually lasts. Once you really understand what your annual production pattern looks like, you will be able to make adjustments in your business to manage it.
Strategy 2: Manage staffing and expenses
Look at ways that you can manage your staffing and costs when your business’s income is at its lowest. Perhaps rather than hiring staff that meets your needs during your production peak, you rely on adding a few seasonal workers to get you through the busy season. You could consider slightly reducing your hours of operation during the slow season. Consider reducing overhead costs by using less of your office space during the offseason, or running fewer machines to meet your lower production demands.
Strategy 3: Find alternative sales channels
If demand for your screen-printed goods screeches to a halt during your slow season, you might consider finding alternative sales channels. You could consider taking up space at local malls or local vendor fairs during the holiday season to sell your original designs, shirts with trendy sayings or garments printed with logos that appeal to your areas, such as local schools or sports teams (as always, be mindful of licensing issues). You could also create an online store to find a broader audience for your goods.
Strategy 4: Offer incentives
You also could offer incentives to encourage customers to do business with you during the slow period. If you have a customer that places large orders every spring, you could provide a slight discount if that customer will do business during the quiet period. That helps you to fill your production calendar during your downtime, and it opens up another production slot during your busy season without you losing business.
Strategy 5: Focus on your marketing efforts
Your seasonal slowdown is the time of year to focus on your marketing efforts. When production is at its peak, and you’re working hard to fulfill order deadlines, marketing often falls by the wayside. Take the time while you have it to increase your social media efforts, revamp your website, hit industry trade shows, attend meetings of local business groups, and call or visit potential customers to try to book new clients. Making time to focus on marketing during your offseason could help boost your business year round.
Strategy 6: Take advantage of your downtime
Despite your best efforts, your slow season is bound to result in some downtime. The trick is not to let the downtime become a waste of time. Use this time to perform often overlooked maintenance on your machines, take inventory of your inks and supplies, or to research products that have piqued your interest. The downtime during your slow season can help you catch up on all of the business tasks that fall by the wayside the rest of the year.
In just about every business, the slow season is an inevitable reality. As long as you anticipate the slow season and develop a clear strategy for dealing with it, you can make your annual slow season a valuable part of your business plan.