Entrepreneurs who run a seasonal business know all too well about seasonal fluctuations and how they impact their businesses. It’s difficult to manage a business that’s profitable only during certain periods of the year. However, seasonal businesses can still manage to remain operational even though their sales aren’t at the peak. The key is in careful planning and business management during the off-season. The main issue is that seasonal businesses lose engagement, sales and even overall interest during the off-season.
Some businesses even experience their sales coming to a complete halt during that time as well. It’s challenging to keep a business operational if there’s nothing to drive it forward. Still, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Seasonal businesses can minimize the off-season damage by implementing the right practices and strategies that will help a business thrive from season to season without experiencing significant loses. That being said, here are a few tips on how to manage your seasonal business.
Always plan ahead
It’s no secret that seasonal businesses rely on good seasonal sales, in order to survive until the next one. If this season was profitable for your business, try to make the next one even more profitable. The key is in good planning.
Most companies oftentimes develop a business plan that encompasses activities for the next 3 to 5 years. Seasonal businesses, on the other hand, cannot plan that far ahead because they can’t know how the next season will turn out, let alone the one after that.
Consider what you did right and what you did wrong this season and strive towards making improvements wherever it’s possible. By developing a solid business plan for the next season, you can maximize your profits and minimize your losses, thus ensuring your seasonal business will survive the quiet months ahead.
Focus on the good hiring practices
When hiring employees for your seasonal business, it’s important to be smart about it. Seasonal employment means you get to work only during the peak season. However, that doesn’t mean this arrangement cannot become a full-time job.
If you establish a good relationship with your employees, you will ensure that they’ll work for your every season. That way you avoid turnovers and having to look for new employees each season. Many seasonal businesses close up shop during the off-season.
That also means you won’t be needing employees to be on staff all the time as well. Still, if you’re open even during the off-season, consider having full-time employees but only the number of workers you actually need. That way, you may save a bit on labor costs and still maintain an effective workforce.
Improve your incomes
As mentioned before, sales gradually slow down or even come to a full halt during the off-season. This may potentially hurt your seasonal business and its financial stability. After all, without a positive cash flow, your business can easily go bankrupt. That being said, seasonal businesses still have expenses even during the off-season.
Expenses, such as labor costs, bills, utilities, maintenance, taxes, operational and overhead costs have to be paid. The fact that there are no sales makes this process all the more difficult. However, with a bit of financial management, you can improve your income rates and ensure financial stability during the unproductive months of the off-season.
For example, allow customers to pay via invoices and set up a payment system that will allow you to collect invoices during the off-season. As you may know, invoices can take anywhere between 30 and 120 days until they’re due. If you run into a rough patch during that time, you can rely on invoice finance to collect payments early. In other words, invoices allow you to generate income even during the period when you don’t have any sales. It’s convenient for your customers and beneficial for your cash flow.
Improve your marketing efforts
When it comes to marketing, seasonal businesses must excel at their marketing efforts. The main reason is that you have to ensure that your business is the most profitable during the seasonal hype for products and services. That and selling as much of inventory as possible, will help your business survive until the next season. Therefore, when developing your marketing campaign, there are a few elements you must focus on.
- Pre-seasonal promotion – This strategy should consist of activities that will improve the visibility of your business and raise the awareness for your products or services. You can achieve that through effective content marketing, boosting your SEO rankings and by promoting personalized offers across various marketing channels.
- Seasonal sales – This marketing strategy needs to help you improve sales and drive as much business your way as possible. Conduct market research to determine what will encourage your customers to buy from you. Also, inspire people through coupons, discounts and other relevant incentives. Try to promote your offers through any means possible, such as digital and traditional marketing combined.
- After-season promotion – When the season is nearing its end and people are starting to slowly lose interest, it’s important to capitalize while you still can. A lot of seasonal businesses hold on to their inventory that’s left after the sales, but in reality, you should consider selling everything if you can. Consider marketing activities, such as promoting a full sale at a compelling discount. If you have inventory left over regardless, consider donating to charities, in order to improve your reputation and generate goodwill for the next season.
Managing a seasonal business is difficult, especially during the off-season. If you’re not careful enough you may end up facing issues that could have been easily avoided with better management practices.