Businesses go through a series of cycles throughout the year, like the seasons. When moving from quarter to quarter, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the time and space to reconsider how you’re working and respond to the current business cycle. Knowing the rhythm of your business can help you optimize all the seasons of your business year.
For many offices and practices in the United States and around the world, the final quarter of the year is a time when things slow down and holidays pick up, not unlike the summer months in July or August. Read on to discover how best to utilize this time to take stock of what’s working for your business, and to start off the new business year with new resolutions.
Identify the Yearly Changes in Your AEC Business
Many companies use the quarter system to analyze their business needs. Publicly traded companies use quarterly reports to guide investment or operational decisions and some states require quarterly filings of federal and state tax returns, so you might be familiar with them. But even if you aren’t, there’s no need to wait until you’re a publicly traded company to use the quarter system to your advantage.
The quarter system means dividing the business year into 4 equal parts and noting how your business evolves throughout the seasons:
- Quarter 1 (Q1): January, February and March.
- Quarter 2 (Q2): April, May and June.
- Quarter 3 (Q3): July, August and September.
- Quarter 4 (Q4): October, November and December.
Checking in with your business’s health on a regular basis can be invaluable for planning investment and taking stock of what’s going well. It can also help you to notice financial changes early and allow for adjustments to be made in a timely manner. To create a schedule that can help you optimize your business cycle, it’s a good idea to use your quieter quarter (which is usually Q4) to focus on creating your own business operational schedule for the year.
Quarterly reviews can then be used to take stock of what’s been successful in the past quarter. Usually quarterly reviews include:
- Having an in-depth review of what happened the previous quarter.
- Setting goals for the next quarter.
- Projected risks and opportunities of the goals.
- Breaking down the larger goals into team-specific goals.
- Defining stretch goals for individual teams.
Create Your Own Annual Planning Schedule
To create a framework for quarter schedules, you should first have an idea of your overall annual schedule. To create an annual planning schedule, reflect on what’s been working well in your company and make note of which times your business tends to pick up or lull using historical data and/or your own experience – old calendars and turnover data can be great reference points.
If you know that your clients have certain times that are busier or quieter for them, try integrating this information into your schedule, or liaise with them to see what they are planning. Your quarterly plan could also include fixed dates such as holidays, conferences and expositions that you take part in, as well as recurring deadlines for certifications or license renewals – and remember to include staffing and recruitment considerations. Once you have created the basis of your quarterly operational schedule, it can become an invaluable tool for optimizing your quarterly business planning.
Create a Marketing Schedule
Once you’ve finished your operational planning, your quarterly plan may become instrumental in creating a marketing schedule that supports your business needs. This could include planning content in the run-up to important events, or planning marketing efforts around holidays or seasonal themes. A good marketing schedule will also account for downtime – quieter periods could become perfect opportunities to sync up communication planning with business development for your office. They could also provide the time to get a headstart on creating social media content, brainstorming new marketing and promotional initiatives, and even preparing digital and/or print media in advance as a basis for future marketing campaigns. Ultimately, by maximizing your downtime, you will be able to concentrate on delivering high-quality service during your busier quarters.
Reach Out to Your Clients
To ensure that your business cycle rolls on successfully, proactive business development is essential, which means being in continuous communication with your clients. Your clients should always feel valued and appreciated. Slower times are an opportunity to tend to the relationships that make your business successful, by staying in touch with existing clients or by creating new client bases for yourself. Seasonal changes and holidays enable you to reach out to existing clients in a friendly, and even festive spirit. Creating promotions and gifts that make your customers feel valued or just touching base will help keep you in the forefront of their minds.
Consult the AEC Marketing Professionals
Once you have created your quarterly operational schedule, you might find that the marketing is something you’d like to get some help with or that you’d like to outsource. AEC marketing is a great way to keep the ball rolling on your marketing plan without becoming overwhelmed. At Bizop Media, we have experience working with smaller as well as larger organizations to create continuity that takes all the elements of a business year into account. For consultations on how we can help you implement your business goals, get in touch.