Operating a seasonal business is not without its challenges. The gap between peak and shoulder seasons can be overwhelming. Get a head start on creating a healthy year-round business with these four tips.
Get to Know Your Industry Sales Cycles and Master Money Management
Do some research on the typical sales cycles that characterize your particular industry. This will help you understand what to expect in terms of the ebbs and flows of your seasonal business. Implementing people counters into your business will also assist with this. People counting data will take the guess work out of understanding foot traffic patterns. When preparing future sales projections, be sure to sample from a minimum of two or three years of past data for the most robust and realistic results.
Running a successful seasonal business means getting a firm handle on your money. Cash may be pouring in for three months but trickling in for the rest of the year. Become a smart saver and stash away as much as possible when business is booming so that you’re in good shape for the shoulder season.
During your off season, take a critical eye to your business in order to run lean operations. People counting technology makes this easy as not only can you easily identify true peak and slow traffic periods, and prepare accordingly. This can mean everything from trimming your workforce and reducing your marketing activities to reviewing supplier contracts and service agreements to secure a more favorable rate. By streamlining operational expenses where possible, your seasonal business will be primed to continue running smoothly until the next busy period arrives.
Identify Alternative Income Streams and Offer a New Product
Innovative seasonal business owners have learned that developing new, alternative streams of income make a significant difference in evening out the “lean” months. Be creative in identifying ways to drum up new sources of revenue. One simple approach could be incentivizing customers to book their stay at your ski lodge as early as possible, perhaps by offering an attractive discount. Or if your seasonal business is in wedding planning, consider branching out into general event planning to keep money flowing in beyond the peak summer bridal season. Complementary businesses are a great way to turn your seasonal operation into a year-round enterprise.
If your business relies on expensive equipment, consider ways to monetize that machinery during the shoulder season; lease it out, sell it or think of other services that you can provide with it.
Some seasonal business owners have found success with offering new products to continue attracting customers during the off season. A beachside ice cream shop might want to add a coffee menu, and especially coffee-ice cream mashups such as the delicious affogato dessert, to draw in the locals once the vacationers have packed up and gone.
Keep in Touch With Customers
Your customers may not need your goods or services at the moment, but it doesn’t hurt to stay in touch in order to keep your seasonal business front and center in their minds. Social media is a great way to keep your name out there without being overly promotional. Also consider sending out a newsletter, perhaps quarterly or bimonthly, so that customers know what you’ve been up to and what exciting things to look forward to when peak season rolls around. Instead of simply dropping off during the shoulder season, keeping in touch with customers can cement their relationship with your business and keep sales strong.
Grow your seasonal business by being creative and savvy with your resources. With a few good ideas and a bit of hard work, your seasonal set-up can blossom into a cash-generating business for all 12 months of the year.