Running any business is hard. But running a seasonal business marked by sharp peaks and troughs at certain times of the year is not for the faint-hearted. Whether you run a beachside café in the summer months, or a festive business in the holidays; check out these 5 tips for making it a success.
1. Have Stellar Planning Skills
Running a successful seasonal business that can generate enough profit to last you through the year is all about careful planning. You'll need to know how much income to save for the quiet or non operational months. Analyze your potential sales volume and see how it compares with the cost of keeping your business open. That will help you decide whether to shut up shop or stay open during the quiet months, and if it's possible to hire full time employees.
For Rita's Water Ice, it doesn't make economic sense to keep their locations staffed during the winter when there is low demand for water ice. But, for your company, the numbers might allow you to stay open year-round. Most seasonal businesses scale up their employees and operations during the busy months, so you'll need to consider hiring workers on a contract basis. Make use of the extra time in the quiet season to plan ahead for when you're too busy to think clearly.
2. Develop Alternative Sources of Income
You shouldn't allow any additional streams of revenue to interrupt or take focus from your core business. But, if you need to make ends meet throughout the rest of the year, making sure you have additional cash flow will ease the tension.
Think about selling products that are necessary during other seasons, if you have the means. For example, popular Chicago restaurant, Soupbox, rebrands itself as "Icebox" during the summer and sells frozen fruit juices and slushies. If that's not a possibility for you, then try to find additional part time work that doesn't take up too much of your time.
3. Be the Best at What You Do
If you're going to run a business that only operates several months of the year, you'll need to be the best at what you do. That's what Morgan and Dan Sevigny of Christmas Tree Brooklyn decided with their Christmas tree delivery service. You don't get much more seasonal than that.
They searched for ways to provide the best and cheapest services possible by running a streamlined operation. Dan explains, "the money we save on rent and staff we pass on to our customers. Delivery is free because it should be. You've already paid for the tree, why should you pay twice?"
4. Manage Your Employee Expectations
Every entrepreneur knows that hiring the right talent is the surest way of achieving success. But when you're running a seasonal business, sometimes it simply isn't possible to keep people on payroll twelve months of the year. So, be sure to manage your employees' expectations, making it very clear that it's a seasonal job.
Keep on top of regulations for temporary workers and consider paying more than just the minimum wage. If you treat your employees well, they'll be more likely to come back next season, which reduces the employee learning curve. If you're able to keep a fixed team, make sure they have flexible skills that can transfer to planning, preparation, and tasks that are different in the down season.
5. Keep in Touch with Your Customers
Even if your business only operates for a few months a year, find a way of keeping in touch with your customers year-round. If your business opens in the summer, send a newsletter showing customers what the town looks like during the winter months.
If you run a Christmas business, like the Sevigny brothers, think about sending out a countdown to Christmas calendar. Stay in your customers' minds throughout the year, so that when the time comes to ramp up production, everyone will be ready.