11 November 2006

I don't have time to plan, it's my busy season

It's Christmas soon - have you ordered your cards yet? Will you be issuing a Christmas catalogue? You don't have much time to produce it and distribute it if you want people to act on it. Will you be putting holly and snowflakes on your website?

Businesses have seasons for the most unlikely of reasons. You need to analyse your business carefully and make sure that you aren't trying to do something that is at odds with the underlying seasonality of your market. While it can be good to stand out from the crowd, it is better to stand out for strong customer service at any time of the year than to be remembered for the Tyrannosaurus Rex animation with the holly wreath in mid-summer. Having said that, I used to go to the states at the end of the 1970s and I remember watching Crazy Eddie's TV ads. I can't remember much about Crazy Eddie except that whatever time of year it was when I turned on the TV, he would be celebrating a season at the other end of the calendar.

The key point about seasonality is that your supply chain must cope. If you are in a service business and your clients take on new projects in September and hope to complete them before Christmas then try to make sure that there are strong incentives for your team to take their holidays at other times of the year. If you are in a product business which has a peaky profile, then the key task is to try and make sure that your order fulfilment capability won't evaporate as volume builds. This is all self-interest - by providing what your customers or clients need, when they want it, you have a better chance of locking in their business for another year and getting them to recommend you to their contacts.

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