EXPANSION

Growing BusinessEXPANSION

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  • How to Optimize a Seasonal Business

    Game Plan

    In-Depth

    Is Year-Round Expansion Right for Your Business?

    Your business is seasonal now, but perhaps it doesn’t have to remain that way. Is your business well-suited for expansion? Could you sell a similar or compatible product or service—one that uses your staff’s skills—during your slow season? Perhaps there are natural ways to expand your relationship with your major customers during your quiet season. If so, would it make good business sense to pursue year-round expansion?

    Explore Year-Round Expansion
    It’s quite possible that you are completely happy running a seasonal business. The lifestyle and alternating rhythms of the peak and off-seasons might suit you perfectly. But perhaps you’re open to expanding throughout the year. How feasible would that be? And what might it look and feel like?

    Take Stock
    Look at your current resources and consider a logical extension or complementary off-season use of your skills, equipment and other resources. For example, a lawn maintenance operation could easily be turned into a snow-plowing service in the winter months.

    A Christmas decoration business could expand year-round or at least pick up seasonal sales by selling decorations for Valentine’s Day, Easter, graduations, birthdays and Halloween decorations and costumes. A summer vacation tour business could expand to offer other seasonal tours.

    Let Your Clients Guide You
    Pursue possibilities from your clients’ perspective. What do they do during the off-season that you could share in as a service or product provider? What might you be able to offer them in your quiet months? Study their demographics and psychographics (i.e., their lifestyles, values, attitudes and interests).

    Once you have some possible ideas, why not test the market? Ask them some focused questions about their degree of interest through a brief survey, letting them know you’re exploring the idea of expanding your offerings. For example, a ski tour company could also offer spring break or summer vacation options.

    Could You Partner?
    Even if you don’t expand your products or services, perhaps you could form a marketing partnership with a complementary business that is targeted toward the same customers in your off-season. Consider a ski clothing or equipment store working with a swimwear company. You could both gain from additional exposure through joint marketing promotions.

    Perhaps you can offer an off-season package discount with a similar seasonal business in your market––that might help you both build additional business during a quiet period. For example, in the tourism industry, a bed and breakfast would make a great potential partner with a restaurant or outdoor adventure center, providing a package deal through cross-promotion.

    Game PlanGame Plan

    Game Plan

    Explore whether it would make sense to expand into a year-round business—or at least beyond your peak seasonal boundaries—and be active as a business longer each year.

    Next steps:

    • Do market research. Study your core client group and consider how you might expand your offerings to them in your off-season. Conduct a survey to gauge their degree of interest.
    • Focus on your assets. How could you put your skills and equipment to better use or additional use in your business’s quiet period?
    • Talk with other business owners who have expanded and learn from them about the real-life costs and benefits.
    • Red about Creating a Successful Seasonal Business All Year-Round to help start your wheels turning.