EXPANSION

Growing BusinessEXPANSION

  • Back to quick summary
  • How to Optimize a Seasonal Business

    Game Plan

    In-Depth

    Managing Your Time and Resources Most Effectively

    Seasonal businesses can be incredibly hectic. How do you budget your time properly to get everything done? Begin by establishing peak season musts, and things that can and should wait for the off-season. During the peak season, you need to make the most of the brief window to earn the income that will sustain your business through the off-season. Then, as the peak activity subsides, you’ll be able to focus your attention on planning for next year, reviewing operations, ramping up new marketing and advertising campaigns, performing equipment maintenance, and developing new products or expanding services.

    Be the Seasonal Employer of Choice
    Of paramount importance to your success as a small, seasonal business is having quality staff on whom you can rely. How do you handle the challenge of doing this with a seasonal labor force? How do you retain great, experienced staff perennially?

    Begin by creating a fun, welcoming work environment. And surround yourself with people whom you like and can depend on. Offer competitive salary and benefits. Stay in touch during the off-season. Let them know they have a job to come back to. Sweeten the pot by offering additional salary to returning staff.

    Identify your most vital staff and consider ways to keep these core, vital people on your payroll year-round so that you ensure continuity. Retaining valued staff could make a tremendous difference in helping you reap the opportunity for your business to function smoothly—for example, by reducing training time and managerial effort. Experienced staff members can also help you make the most of a limited window in which to generate income.

    Plan and Hone Your Marketing and Advertising
    When your business is buzzing during peak season, you have precious little time to think about marketing and advertising campaigns. These are things to consider thoughtfully and focus on once seasonal operations wind down. Use your operational off-season for planning, conceiving and creating your marketing and advertising campaign for the entire next year. Review what worked, what didn’t—and why.

    As soon as your season winds down, begin to plan for next year. Start with customer reviews and feedback while the memory of their experience is still fresh. Conduct customer surveys to stay in touch and develop an ongoing relationship with people who have used your products or services.

    Use a monthly newsletter or regular emails with updates. Use social media and all relevant channels to remind customers that you’re still there and eager to serve them again. Consider redesigning your website or at least update it. Offer pre-season discounts to encourage customers to commit early to help generate cash flow and limit your dry season.

    Develop New Products and Services
    Use the relative “down time” of your business’s off-season to think about and develop new products and/or services so that you can build on your previous successes and find ways to please your customers in new and even better ways.

    Perform Maintenance
    If you have a business that involves any equipment or upkeep, the time to perform regular maintenance is the off-season. Be thorough. Enter your next peak season full of confidence that everything is well-maintained. Reduce the chance of costly breakdowns during prime time. At that point, every lost day, hour and minute might result in lost income.

    Game PlanGame Plan

    Game Plan

    Use all your resources and your time year-round as efficiently and effectively as possible. During your busy season, avoid burnout by shelving things that can wait until the off-season—such as product development, marketing and advertising, and maintenance. Instead, focus on these when you have the time to give them your full attention.

    Next steps:

    • Strive to be the best seasonal employer that you can be. Focus first on staff morale and satisfaction, and build the desire for employees to return to work for you the next year.
    • Nurture your customers during the peak season as well as the off-season. Let them know you value them and stay in touch.
    • Plan to grow and improve your business for next season. Better or more extensive products and services, staff retention and maintaining top-quality equipment are all important.
    • In the off-season, take a break. You deserve it. Take some time so that you can come back recharged and refreshed, ready to build next year on what you accomplished this year.
    • Read these articles on time and resource management for seasonal businesses: