While on my way out of the office last week Friday morning, I bumped into an entrepreneur who’d recently commenced her first quarter on one of our business growth programmes. I enquired about her business and asked her what the biggest challenge was that she was facing. With a pained expression she replied that she was really struggling to obtain new clients. I asked what her plans were for the rest of the day, to which she replied: “I’m heading home after we close at 13:00 because no one does business on a Friday.”
It really concerns me when entrepreneurs are so comfortable about closing the office earlier on a Friday because “No one does business on a Friday.” There is a widely held myth that productivity levels are at their lowest on a Friday because staff are more focussed on their weekend plans, and many businesses have shortened their working hours because of this. I believe this is a terribly wasted opportunity! Friday is just as important as any other day of the week to get new business in. When you see an opportunity on a Friday, jump at it even if it’s 16:59 in the afternoon.
“If your largest competitor closes their office at noon today,” I asked her, “shouldn’t you be jumping at the opportunity to engage with their customers who are still at the office working? These customers could potentially become yours.”
As an entrepreneur, you should wake up every Friday morning, more determined than ever to squeeze out as much business as possible on that day – hence why I refer to it as Squeezy Friday. Make the most of every opportunity, even if that means working while your competitors are out sipping cocktails. In doing so, you could end off your week with 2 new deals in the pipeline.
Don’t stop squeezing
From October to December the tempo of many businesses starts slowing down significantly because everyone is tired. Staff have applied for leave and are finalising their December holidays, and their focus gradually shifts into “holiday mode” as they become less productive in the office. The December/January period is commonly known as “dead time” because not much happens on the business front until early February the following year.
From now until the end of 2016, there are endless opportunities out there which you should take full advantage of – especially when your competitors are in “holiday mode”. Just as you need to squeeze out as much business as possible on a Friday afternoon, so to should you continue to push harder in these next two-and-a-half months to secure more clients.
Make sure you do the following:
1. Double your current sales activity targets, and even triple them
If you usually make 10 calls a week to new clients, double this to 20 calls a week. Set reminders in your calendar to alert you to follow ups with clients. Keep calling and push harder to get those new deals through that have been on your target list for months. December is an opportune time to contact potential clients, especially if your competitors are closed for the festive season and their clients need to continue running their businesses.
2. Be hyper focussed on your competitor’s clients
When your competitor is planning his trip to Mauritius, he’s probably not contacting his clients as often as he usually would, or even at all. Be proactive and contact his clients. Tell them about your business and what it offers. There is a very good chance that they’ll decide to rather do business with you.
3. Offer new-fangled specials
At the end of every year, retailers advertise clichéd “festive season deals” which customers now anticipate. These clichéd offers are not always powerful because every other retailer has an identical deal. Relook your current product offering and develop a new-fangled special that is fresh. For example, if you usually offer a 4-day workshop twice a year, look at offering a “lighter” version of that workshop over 2 days, at a reduced rate.
4. Experiment with new products
If you have a new product in mind, but are unsure as to whether it will be a success, this is the ideal time to launch it and see how the market welcomes it. If your product doesn’t succeed, learn by trial and error and make the necessary adaptations from the feedback. If it’s a success, start thinking of ways to maximise its potential in the upcoming year.
5. Go into analytical mode now
Look back on the last 9 months and analyse your product lines. Identify the products that performed well and achieved the highest profits, and analyse whether these figures match your predictions you made for 2016. Use this 9 months of information to strategise and develop new ways of looking at your company and products, and plan better for 2017. It’s too late to only start doing these analyses in December, because by that stage you should already have your plan in place for the next year.
If you are guilty of closing shop early on a Friday, change this habit immediately and instead create urgency to jump at opportunities. No matter how tired you are feeling at the end of the week, and at this time of year, keep squeezing because you’ll see the results in the long run.
By Allon Raiz, CEO of Raizcorp