Make Your Seasonal Business a Success

If you derive most of your annual revenue in just a few sort months a year, here are six great ways to make your business more sustainable and overcome common challenges

Written by Rick Spence

Whether they sell beachwear, snowboards, Christmas ornaments or lawn care, many Canadian businesses derive most of their annual revenue in just a few short months a year. Running a seasonal businesses poses many challenges, from finding and keeping good help to carefully nurturing your cash flow to make it last year-long.

From business writer Kathryn Hawkins on Intuit Inc.’s Small Business Blog, here are six ideas on how to make your seasonal business more sustainable and successful.

  • Save money to remain solvent during the slower months. Use historical data to produce a cash-flow projection for the entire year, and use those calculations to determine how much you can afford to spend each month.
  • Minimize your operating costs after the season ends. Employ contract seasonal staff to remain as flexible as possible, and limit the hours your business is open during the off-season.
  • Drive demand during the off-season with special promotions. (Example: many restaurants in ski resort Vail, Colorado offer half-price entrées after the snow melts. Explore using daily-deal sites such as Groupon to attract new clients in slow season.
  • Partner with other businesses to create package deals. Tourist businesses, for instance, might collaborate with local businesses to create joint marketing campaigns.

Read: How To Sell More, More, More for smart strategies from Canada’s fastest growing companies

  • Maintain relationships with customers year-round. Use a customer-loyalty program (or at least an occasional newsletter) to keep in touch with fair-weather clients during the off-season. Encourage customers to follow you on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, by creating content that engages them year-round.
  • Use your downtime to focus on your business strategy. At House of Torment, a Hallowe’en-themed “haunted house,” owner Jon Love spends 11 months a year conducting market research, studying the competition, and improving his haunted attractions.

Read Hawkins’ original post, it comes with a fun, informative infographic summing up the situation facing seasonal service businesses in the U.S.

Rick Spence is president of Canadian Entrepreneur Communications, a Toronto-based business writer, speaker and consultant dedicated to entrepreneurship and helping businesses grow.

Read: More of Rick Spence’s insightful columns on entrepreneurship.

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