In all businesses, business ebbs and flows; business owners see peeks in revenue and dips in purchases and service calls. If you’re running a seasonal business, these surges and recessions in your business are even more severe. While your seasonal business creates frustration as you rush to keep up with demand one month only to be waiting for the phone to ring the next, there are ways you can manage and grow your seasonal business successfully.
Know your business cycle.
Successfully managing your seasonal business begins with understanding your business cycle. Keep track each year of your busy periods and your slow period. Know when your cash flow is highest and when your business account is running on empty. By understanding your business cycle, you can better adapt your business strategy to make it through the busy times as well as the lean times.
Have a cash flow plan.
Knowing how you will manage your cash flow even as payments from customers decrease is crucial to managing and growing your seasonal business. Project your income over 12 months, and factor in your known expenses. Obviously, some expenses, like rent, might be impossible to adjust, but you can make adjustments to things like payroll by making use of part-time or seasonal employees to retain when needed and let go to lessen your expenses when you don’t.
Incentivize customers to use your services in the off-season.
You can help your cash flow, your workflow and grow your customer base by incentivizing customers to use your services during the offseason. Offer specials to lure customers in, or give discounts to customers who rebook your services during traditionally slow periods. During the slow period, make sure you stay in touch with customers. Send fliers, be vocal on social media or even make cold calls encouraging customers to book their services before business picks back up.
Find alternate revenue streams.
Get creative with your services by finding goods and services that generate business during your traditionally slow season. For example, a chimney sweep who is busy all fall and winter cleaning and repairing fireplaces can use the same skills to install, repair and clean outdoor fireplaces, fire pits and outdoor kitchens during summer months; or to clean and service clothing dryer vents year round.
Make use of the slow season.
While some businesses might choose to close during the offseason; if you have enough business during your slow periods to keep your doors open full time, use your slow period to your benefit. Do inventory, hold training sessions for your employees, attend trade shows or revamp your marketing plan or your business plan. Just because your slow season might mean that you’re not getting a lot of customers through your doors, it doesn’t mean that you have to write your slow season off as a loss — stay busy and keep your staff busy with the important tasks that tend to fall by the wayside when your business is in full swing and struggling to keep up with demand.