The most feared word in all of Michigan: WINTER. The season that takes up nearly half a year. The season that causes slippery car accidents. The season that closes ice cream shops, cider mills, and countless roads (on that note, why does Hines Road always have to be closed?!) One major Wintry roadblock for Livonia small businesses is decreased productivity. 

When the sun rises and sets while you’re at the office, your motivation decreases significantly. I know all we want to do is curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and a book during the Michigan Winter months, but we need to fight this instinct, especially as a small business. Think of it as an opportunity: you know that all of the other businesses in Livonia are under the same low-productivity spell, so your awareness is an asset. Let it motivate to work hard now, so that you may just be able to skate ahead of your competition come Summer. Here are 5 tips for how to increase productivity and grow your Livonia small business, especially during these months without the sun.

Warm Up Your Engines.

I personally can vouch for this one. As long as you are getting the required amount of sleep, waking up earlier and accomplishing a task before work can do wonders to productivity. It’s a way to “warm up” before work. As a character in The Office once said, “People, you should come to work already warm. Nine to ten a.m. is the most productive potential that a human being [can reach.]” If you start off your morning by working out, doing some chores, or finishing a personal project, you 1) have already “warmed up” by the time you have arrived to work, and 2) feel accomplished that you completed something for yourself, and don’t feel as rushed to get home and finish that task. And hey, I can tell you that there are two Planet Fitness locations in Livonia that are open 24/7 for those early risers. Plus, no one is hogging the squat rack at 6 a.m.

Work Smarter, Not Harder.

One way to increase productivity and growth, especially among your Wayne County competitors, is through content marketing. What is content marketing? Essentially, it is producing content surrounding your business and its environment in order to drive consumer action and interaction. According to Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, and yet I still see Livonia businesses spending lots of money on traditional ads like billboards, newspaper articles, and poorly-shot commercials. The truth of it is that 86% of people skip TV ads, 44% ignore direct mail, and 91% unsubscribe from company emails! There are many ways that a business can add content to their marketing plan. Social media may be the most obvious, but it truly does connect your business to the surrounding community and allows you to share events, sales, and personal content that will resonate with individuals. A great example of this is the Red Dot Coffee Company in Northville. Their Facebook page is constantly updated with new products/events, staff announcements, and feel-good writing that establishes them as a member of their community. You could also start a blog, a podcast, or dabble in something experiential, like a giveaway or unique event. Content marketing gets you a better bang for your buck than the traditional marketing I see far too often driving down 6 Mile.

Automate.

Automation, or using automatic processes to decrease one’s workload, is a great way to save both time and money. There are so many tasks that small business employees perform day-to-day that could be solved by automation, freeing up individuals to accomplish more complex, thoughtful projects. Automation can also reduce mistakes often made by human error, as well as reduce delays. There are many different ways in which you can incorporate automation into your small business, such as through chatbots, social media management, and email marketing services. Chatbots offer round-the-clock customer service to answer those consumer questions while you’re off taking your kids to Dairy Barn or hitting up AMC20 for a movie. According to HubSpot, 48% of consumers would rather ask a question via live chat than another communication method. Social media management tools like Hootsuite offer a way to schedule your social media posts ahead of time so that they can automatically post on the specified date. With email marketing services like MailChimp, you can schedule mass emails out to your contact lists and collect data at the same time. And as a bonus, MailChimp also doubles as a CRM tool. There are plenty of ways to cut down on wasted time at work- you just need to automate.

Aim for the Retarget

Small businesses work hard to make the sale in the brick-and-mortar store, but what they don’t often realize is that there are consumers making touchpoints with their products all the time via the internet. Retargeting is the process of bringing consumers back to a website who had not initially converted to purchase on an online store. This is often done through display ads, which are those little boxes on the side of Google, Facebook, and elsewhere that show what products you last searched online. According to HubSpot, 96% of visitors that come to your site are not ready to buy at that moment in time. To decrease the time trying to acquire new customers, focus on bringing back customers who were at one point interested in your business through advertising in these display ads. Facebook is a great place to start when it comes to retargeting. Check out this article to read more on how to retarget using Facebook.

Celebrate, Don’t Hibernate

Alright, I stole this phrase from a billboard on I-96, but it was way catchier than a boring “Enjoy Winter.” I may have slandered Winter’s name in the first paragraph, but a metro Detroit Winter can also be loads of fun- and one important thing to remember is that if you’re not having fun sometimes, you’re not going to be productive. Clocking in and clocking out every grey Livonia Winter day is not going to inspire you or your employees to improve: it’s only going to inspire you to get through the day, check all the boxes, and get home ASAP. Keep the morale up. Go ice skating in downtown Detroit at Campus Martius. Go snowboarding at Mt. Brighton. Take a little hike up to Lansing and go snow tubing down their hill at Hawk Island Park. If you choose to celebrate Winter, you won’t be hibernating at your desk every weekday.