Seasonal business is tricky
Many entrepreneurs have an amazing business idea that depends heavily on the season, and often hesitate to open up shop, because let’s face it – it can be risky to be completely reliant upon something that only comes once a year or once a season. Instead of hesitating, prepare yourself. You may have an idea for a pool toy that will likely sell primarily in the summer, or designs for a snow coat line, and the truth is that you can survive the cyclical nature of business.
Jeff Turner is the Founder and CEO of National Storm Shelters, a Middle Tennessee storm shelter manufacturer and installer. Because of the seasonal nature of his business, he’s well seasoned when it comes to surviving peaks and valleys, and in his own words below, he offers four ways to survive in a seasonal business:
1. What to do in the off-season
Use the off-season. Inform the public and improve your product year round — especially in the off-season. You want to make sure when it’s time for consumers to buy, they come to you. Lay the foundation. Advertise, blog, post to social media and send direct mail year round. Don’t let your existing customers forget you, and don’t let your potential customers learn about someone else first.
The off-season is the best time to improve your product. It’s a luxury traditional businesses don’t have. Seasonal business owners and operators get a time out to ponder, plan and progress. By the time your season comes around, your product or service will be aligned with this season’s standards not last.
2. Expand and retract staff levels
Contract additional staff in high-season. When your season is in full blast and you’re in need of additional hands on deck, hire temporary workers. This way, added seasonal team members will understand their employment is short-term and you won’t be responsible for layoffs, plus you won’t have additional salaries on the books during your off season. With this being said, you should employ a handful of core team members who stay on board even after your season to ensure brand and product consistency and continuation.
3. Inventory and staff play a key role
Estimate appropriate inventory and staff. Too much or too little inventory and/or staff can derail your in-season plans. Analyze previous year revenues, stay on top of industry trends and projections and communicate with your team and customers to ensure you’re equipped and prepared for this season’s demand.
4. Throw in a dash of diversity
Develop additional revenue streams. Your seasonal offering can be your primary revenue source and your passion, but you may need a side product or service to sustain you and your company. For instance, we specialize in storm shelters, but we’ve added safe rooms to our catalog because they’re applicable and in-demand year round.
And now you’re ready!
With proper preparation and a unique look at your business, you can survive any seasonal cycle, whether you’re a service provider, consultant, or even retailer.