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The Summer Reset – Recalibrating your business prior to Back-to-School.

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | July 18, 2023

We are officially in that weird portion of the summer when we can see back to school on the horizon, but we still have a few weeks of peak summertime activities. During this time period some businesses can fall into a lull. We would encourage you to take this time to recalibrate and prepare for the rest of the year by taking some directed actions. Planning and data collection now can improve your business strategic effectiveness for the rest of the year. Here are a few things you should consider implementing soon:

  1. Customer Surveys: A lot of businesses have some extra time to think through some of the marketing, product/service selection adjustments, and amenity changes they want to implement. They often do this by throwing out ideas and hoping one of them lands with their target market. We call this a “spray and pray” method of business strategy. The more effective method is to ask your customer some basic questions. What do you like best about our business? What can we do to improve? What can we do to encourage you to visit us more often? When you think of our business, what words or feelings come to mind? What new product or service would you like us to carry? Surveys can be electronic, or you can have surveys in your business for consumers to fill out while they are there. Offer some sort of prize or discount for a completed survey to generate bulk results. Collect the information and look for common themes. Results can help you direct buying, marketing, and other service offerings. Survey tools like Survey Monkey can help generate online feedback, or you can use Emporia Main Street for third party survey development and collection (contact the office for details).
  2. Employee Surveys: Anonymous surveys for employees can help you create a better work environment, retain staff, improve retention, and attract more quality employees. If you have a significant number of staff members, an online anonymous survey is probably the easiest way to collect information. If you have a small staff, you might need a less secret method and simply have a staff meeting (you will need to prepare to hear some things you may not like, and encourage an open and honest dialogue). Yes, everyone will want to be paid more, with better benefits and more time off. However, there may be other elements of your business that can be improved to generate a better environment for staff. Again, Emporia Main Street can help design, distribute, and report results of surveys.
  3. Set elements of your year: In my former retail days, doing things like developing compelling display window concepts that reinforced our brand and drove traffic would sap every remaining ounce of my creativity. So, we made window display part of group discussions to generate several concepts and then we moved forward with designs that were compelling. Now, you have additional options, like describing your business and target market to AI (Chat GPT or Bard) and asking for window display themes concepts for each month. If you ask for ten design concepts for each month you will undoubtedly find a few that you like. Think about other future decisions. What can you decide now for implementation later?
  4. No mo’ FOMO: Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is something that grips every business owner this time of year. Everyone’s social media feed is full of highlight reels from people living their best lives. The result can be frustration in management, staff, and consumers. It’s okay to want to have fun, but it’s not okay to build up resentment as you compare yourself to others. Take some steps to add a little fun in the workplace. Find the things that make you look forward to collaborating with your team or helping your customer base. Find ways to generate a few planned breaks. Reward/compliment staff and customers for doing something to add levity to your day. Communicate openly about things that you love about what you do.

There are several other things like rearranging floor plans, to researching products for the fall, conducting building maintenance, and creating a marketing calendrer that you can be doing right now. Find a few items that you can implement over the next few weeks, and take advantage of the summer!

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.