Running a successful seasonal business can be challenging. Though most small businesses are effected by seasonal changes, a seasonal business depends on them. Being profitable in the face of uneven cash flow, unpredictable sales, and a high employee turnover, requires a great deal of planning and ingenuity.
The following are a few tips on how to run your seasonal business to the maximum.
Smooth Out Your Cash Flow
One of the biggest difficulties with running a seasonal business is that when operations stop, so does the flow of cash into the business. Covering continuing overhead expenses, such as maintenance, payroll, and rent then becomes a challenge.
The challenge is even greater if the business is looking to expand operations, or to cover expenses in case of an unusually slow operating season.
Many seasonal businesses seek additional financing to improve their cash flow, such as short-term seasonal business loans and business lines of credit. But most seasonal businesses are unable to receive this financing because lenders have strict requirements in sales and credit history.
In the alternative financing market, a seasonal business owner could factor outstanding invoices or receive a merchant cash advance based on future credit card sales. Both these methods of finance are quick and come with few requirements.
Without seeking financing, certain seasonal businesses can improve their cash flow by setting up early registration or encouraging customers to make early deposits.
Seek an Alternative Income
Some seasonal businesses have the potential to earn an alternative income during the off-season. A seasonal business can make use of idle assets. Unused real estate, for example, can be rented out or subletted.
There may also be the option of running a second business that will operate in the off-season. Numerous business owners change from one seasonal business to another. A landscaper goes into holiday decorating, and a home builder becomes a home re-modeler in the off-season.
The advantage to this approach is that it creates the potential for a steady income. A possible difficulty, however, is trying to balance the two businesses so that adequate attention and resources are still directed to the more profitable venture.
Hold on to Your Workers
Aside from cash flow, the second biggest struggle for a seasonal business is in the area of employment. Constantly having to recruit, hire, and train a new workers can put an added strain on tight resources.
Many seasonal business owners are seeing that it pays to hold on to their workers. Even if the business cannot employ its workforce throughout the year, business owners can make the work experience enjoyable so that the workers will want to come back the following season.
Some ideas for employee retention include: organizing company events or outings, encouraging employee feedback, and offering financial incentives to good work performance.
Success is in the Off-Season
A seasonal business has to some extent an advantage over a year round business. When operations stop, there is a quiet time to regroup and refocus. Unburdened from having to run their businesses, many seasonal business owners use their off- season to plan out the operational and fiscal goals for the following year. Others use it to update systems or material or for the maintenance and repair of equipment. Off-season is also a time to begin preliminary sales and marketing activity.
In short, running a successful seasonal business means thinking ahead and having a lot of flexibility. Though it may be a challenge the rewards are great.