How to survive a quiet January

It’s a story salon owners know well: it’s practically impossible to keep up with demand in the lead-up to Christmas and New Year, but when January rolls around, the days are quiet and long, and the cash register can be eerily silent.

While clients spend up big on pre-Christmas facials and New Year’s hair removal, when the calendar flips over to January, those same clients are often cash-strapped and carefully watching their budgets.

It can be a tricky time for salon owners, but there are some tactics they can utilise to keep their business ticking over until bookings start filling up again.

“Cashflow is the first major concern,” says Paul Clements, business advisor at Clements Dunne & Belle. “Without cashflow, the survival of the business may be put under threat.”

Paul advises that planning ahead is crucial. “Be diligent in following ups on your debtors, ideally in the months leading up to the quiet period, and this will allow you to build up a cash reserve to pull you through.”

If this isn’t something a business owner managed to do pre-Christmas, Paul says there is another option. “Conversely, try to put off paying your creditors as long as possible, and if necessary discuss this with them. Explain that business is quiet and you may need some extra time. If you’ve already developed a good reputation for payment and a strong relationship with your suppliers, then this shouldn’t be a problem for them.”

The goal, Paul says, is to have enough cashflow to cover all fixed costs. For example, wages are a fixed cost. That said, it is wise to utilise employees when they are needed most.

“Encourage your employees to take leave at times when business is quiet, and implement policies or incentives to achieve this.”

Finally, salon owners should take advantage of the quiet period to ensure they’re prepared for the year ahead. “Utilise the time to improve or change business processes, complete technology or equipment upgrades, and do business planning and cashflow forecasting.” Doing this in the quieter times will put salon owners in a strong position to be operating most efficiently when business picks up again.

 

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