If you own a seasonal business, one of the biggest challenges you can face (or probably are already facing) is related to dealing with seasonal fluctuations that hamper almost everyone in your niche.
There are no instant solutions to deal with this particular conundrum. What you can do is develop smart skills and practices that will enable your business to be competitive and profitable during the traditional seasonal slowdowns.
Seasonal fluctuations almost always bring with it a dip in consumer demand.
It is very difficult to always anticipate this slowdown, but the tips mentioned below will leave you suitably prepared for dealing with it. Here are some of our top tips to season-proof your business during the off months:
1. Be Aware of The Particular Sales Cycles Of Your Industry
Most new small business owners face a situation of sudden and rapid growth. This can usually hide a traditional off-season fluctuation, which leads to many entrepreneurs believing that the sales will continue to flow in.
You should base your off-season fluctuations on data collected over a two to three year span. If your business has not been operational for that long, you could consult peers or other industry sources for the requisite information.
2. Strengthen Your Planning Skills
“Measure Twice, Cut Once”
It is an old adage, but even today it holds true for new or emerging businesses.
Always look forward to the next six months when devising a business plan. You could give further thought to stashing away some of your cash reserves during the busy months to prepare for the shoulder season (slow periods) as well as during the off-season (when you experience complete lulls).
Inadequate working capital during the off-season can severely hamper your cash flow, which could pose a variety of problems for your business, forcing you to try new funding solutions such as commercial finance loans.
Take a close look at various important factors associated with your business, from staffing to inventory. This can help you detect if you are unnecessarily tying up your cash reserves during the peak season.
Always look at slow periods as suitable preparation for the upcoming peak season.
3. Cultivate Alternative Revenue Streams.
It might at first seem as an unnecessary distraction from your core niche, but you can always counteract off-season lulls by generating alternative revenue streams for your business. Just make sure that you don’t take your eye of the ball when it comes to your core business.
4. Countercyclical Customer Promotions Need To Be Implemented
Never miss out an opportunity of capitalising during the off season as your entire competition could be operating in ‘sleep mode’. It is not that difficult to access most of your target audience in the lead up to a busy season as it is during the peak.
5. Find Creative Ways Of Staying In Touch With Your Consumers
You can stand out from your competition by being visible to your consumers right through the year. Just because you don’t see some of your regulars around, it does not mean that they have all left town. If you can find creative ways to maintain contact with them, you could potentially convert many one-time visitors into repeat customers.
6. Balance The Impact Of The Off-Season On Your Staff.
One of the great advantages of being a business owner is that you are completely in charge of who you hire. Hiring the right type of employees, including management personnel plays an absolutely crucial role in the success of your venture.
The seasonal nature of your business means that staff turnover and short term working arrangements are pretty much unavoidable. Make sure to be clear about expectations from your seasonal staff. Be honest about the duration of the employment (whether it’s full time or part time) along with important regulations about minimum wage.
7. Find an Interested funding partner.
Having the right funding partner by your side who has considerable experience in your industry not only ensures that you’re aware of the seasonal fluctuations associated with your industry, but it will also give an edge over your competition. Such a partner will also have great contacts within the industry, which will help you hire the right staff or manage growth or other investments wisely.
Most businesses are subject to seasonal fluctuations. You can not only withstand this, but thrive, if you incorporate seasonality as an important part of your business plan.