Summer is almost over. And the sales slide begins. What do you do?

Say goodbye to the tourists.

After Labor Day, they’ll check out of the city, and they won’t be back for some time.  We’ll see a few in the middle of October, and a few around Veteran’s Day in November . . . but Times Square is about to become a lot less populated than just a few weeks ago.  

Couple the end of warm weather with back to school and the Jewish High Holidays and you’ve got a recipe for low grosses and probably a few closings.

It’s weird, but the seasons shift is so engrained in our psyche, I’m sure you feel the same thing I do in September . . . that feeling of, “I can’t go out tonight . . . it’s . . . it’s . . . September.”

So what do you do when you’re a Broadway show?  Or an Off-Broadway show?  Or any small, medium or large sized business around the world?  (If you think Broadway is the only industry affected, then you should see what the restaurant industry goes through . . . or rental cars . . . or just about everything.)

There are a lot of things you can and should do.  And our industry as a whole has come up with some great promotions to stir some sales up during this slower month.  We’ve got Broadway week and 20at20 . . . and on a more micro level, so many shows are out there coming up with every little promotion they can think of to scrape out another dollar or two.

I’ve got another radical idea for all of you with shows running during a tough time of the year.

Do nothing.

What?  What?  Did I say nothing?  Me?

Yeah, I did.  And while I’m a ‘wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-email-myself-a-marketing-idea’ type of guy . ..  there are also times when I know it’s best to not do anything at all.  Because you’ll spend a lot of time, and in some cases a lot of money, going after something that ain’t ever going to come.

The first two weeks of September are a sh*tstorm.  Now you can try and walk out in that storm and fight it all you want.  Or, you can do what smart folks do when it’s raining cats and dogs instead of customers.  Hunker down.  Hide.  Find a basement and hole yourself up until it passes.

Cut costs.  Be quiet.  And don’t try and force people out of their homes and into your theaters by offering them crazy super deals.  You may actually be losing revenue because that same person might come in a month and pay a higher price.

Look, I’m a doer.  And if you’re reading this blog, then you are too.  All entrepreneurs are.

But sometimes, when you’re facing a law of sales cycle nature . . . the best thing you can do is not doing anything.

And save your energy, and your money, for a time when you can.


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  • SW STOUT says:

    You’re a wise man, Ken. I am a playwright and a business owner. My husband and I have owned an Upper Manhattan Moving & Storage Company for three decades. The cycle you describe is one we know too well. We’re coming down now from an extremely busy and profitable time and we’re getting ready to do nothing much for awhile. Oh, not nothing, we’ve been so on the front burners of life, we’ve got piles of undone things to clear up on the back burners. After the early years of “slow business/fall anxiety” we now accept and lean into the slowing that comes with fall. We use this time to exhale, tidy up, take a trip, count our blessings, pause and reflect. We now look forward to it.

  • Ilene Argento says:

    Couldn’t agree more! I really think all of the promotions and sales hurt the industry. I think more people would pay full price if they weren’t so used to waiting for the coupons! Here’s an idea … Bump up regular price so when you put it on sale you’re still making a profit and, at the same time, letting your patrons think they’re getting’ a deal!

  • Greg Hartley says:

    As a consumer, most of the shows I have seen have been in the spring or fall. Not only because of the discounts but also things are less crowded and it is perfect weather for walking the city.

    It’s a 90 minute and $40 trip to the city. I try to go on a Wednesday or Saturday so I can see two shows but only have one transportation cost. Maybe instead of discounting the show tickets work out a deal with NJ Transit or the parking garages making that the incentive.

  • I wear many hats. One is a hired (contract)writer, and for that work, the summer is awful and starts picking up in Sept./Oct. So what you are talking about in Sept., I go through in July/August. And yes, this year, I decided to not fight it. But it does suck. Feast or famine. That’s the nature of enterpreneurship and show business I guess.

  • janis says:

    Why not take your show on the road? Summer is not over everywhere. Traveling may slow down, but shows are big time in the fall everywhere else. NYC in the summer is too stressful and in the fall, we’re too busy.
    Come see us and bring your show.

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