Come Hell or High Water: 11 Tips to Stay in Business during Low Seasons
Running a Seasonal Business
Merchants running a seasonal business know best what it means to suffer a dip in sales and struggle with cash flow. And like it or not, most small businesses are seasonal. And because you have little control over the changing seasons, the best approach is to dance to the rhythm. For instance, while Memorial Day may be the kickoff of summer season sales in most micro-businesses; for others, it's a low-sales period. Depending on the product you sell, your small company's health will likely be directly influenced by the seasons. The most common victims of seasonal sales are those in travel and tourism. During summer, B2B (business-to-business) and service companies may not receive as many orders as they do as their clients leave businesses for vacation. So what's the trick for micro-business survival in the off-season? Find out below.
Tips to stay in business During Low Season
Running a seasonal business can be challenging. Below are tips to survive the low season as you prepare for peak sales.
1.Rethink Your Money Strategy
Don't concentrate too much on profits; maintain your cash flow—that's what small businesses rely on. If you experience higher sales in summer, then begin setting aside a small portion of your revenue in a reserve account.
2.Keep operation costs down
You also want to reduce expenses even as you monitor cash flow. If possible, employ seasonal workers rather than having people work for you permanently.
3. Work with a Business Funding Partner
It helps keep good credit and set up a credit line to rely on during the low season. You have a range of alternatives from credit cards to non-bank lenders, but these may charge you very high-interest rates. Still, keeping a solid line of credit with a dependable bank is the surest way to stay safe for those running a seasonal business. You can also go for collateral-based loans as a last resort.
4.Get ready for the high season
Take advantage of these slow periods to prepare for the rush. Work on production or purchase vital inventory. This is also the time to conduct repairs and maintenance, and train staff as well.
5.Be accessible year-round
Always stay in touch as consumers don't vaporize during the offseason. Create a mailing list of all high-season clients and keep them updated via monthly email newsletters. That way, they will remember you when the time comes to buy.
6.Come up with offseason discounts
When sales are low, the least you can do is to have money coming in to keep large profit margins. Offer eye-catching discounts to your offseason clients who buy in the offseason.
7.Prepare counter-seasonal lines
Be diverse in what you offer so that your company remains a year-round firm. For instance, most lawn care firms turn to snow removal in winter. And merchants who sell Christmas gifts can deal with the same item but change the types of gifts with the seasons.
8.Broaden your horizons— get more income streams
This tactic has worked before and will continue to help retailers who use it wisely. Let's face it; cutting costs is a lifesaver for anyone running a seasonal business, but overdoing it may hinder your growth and potential to get ready for high seasons. And when you cannot reduce expenses, getting business funding from other sources is your safest way out of the financial dilemma.
9.Adopt a flexible employment structure
It is only wise to depend on permanent staff for technical tasks. And you may realize that competent workers are valuable assets; sometimes, contract workers are less costly. Plus, you can lay them off during the offseason when you need to stop certain operations. In other words, adopt a flexible employment program; instead of a receptionist, consider hiring a virtual assistant who can monitor email and phone messages, respond to some, and structure can help ease the pressure for you during slow seasons. You can call in the services of staff like Virtual assistants and other web-based freelancers.
10.Buying or leasing, what's cheaper?
For companies that use a lot of equipment, buying may be a cheaper option than leasing. It is also not advisable to lease equipment that your staffs need to run daily operations. But in cases where you only need the equipment temporarily, a lease is more cost-effective than a purchase. The disadvantage of spending a large chunk of your savings on temporary equipment is that you could lack the finances to pay salaries and support cash flow when sales drop.
11. Get the balance between sourcing extra funding and reducing expenditure
When sales are low, retailers running a seasonal business should balance between increasing income and cutting expenses in a manner that ensures they are getting the support they need without compromising your company's future. But it is not easy to get this balance; you must develop a workable plan toexpand your financial horizon while you also find strategies to reduce spending. You must budget for your firm regardless of its size. For that reason, you should spend time working on your budget, keeping in mind the challenges that may come with slow seasons. Cutting costs and opening doors to supplementary business funding is the best way to stay safe during slow seasons. It helps to prepare both psychologically and physically for these low seasons. And using these seven tips, you can be sure to have a busy offseason and a more profitable high season.
4 Easy Ways to Improve Business Efficiency When High Season Begins
One best practice in running a seasonal business is preparing adequately for peak sales. How can you improve business efficiency during the high season? Most startup entrepreneurs can't tell the difference between efficiency and productivity – and often consider them the same. Unfortunately, they aren't. You attain productivity when your staff can get more tasks handled within a specified period. On the flip side, efficiency means training your staff to perform a particular task within a short time. Though both are crucial for the smooth running of a business, it's advisable to ensure efficiency as it enhances employee satisfaction and increases profits. Some key areas a business should streamline to boost efficiency include; individual staff efficiency, team efficiency, and general business efficiency. Here are a few suggestions to make the most of peak season for those running a seasonal business;
1.Introduce Self-care Customer Service
While good customer service is essential for your business's thriving, an overflow of clients may overwhelm your employees. Your customer care representatives may keep forwarding most consumer queries to other agents, which can reduce efficiency. An easy way to avoid such a waste of time is to implement self-care customer service. This system enables customers to find answers to their questions by referring to FAQs, pre-written guides, or videos. That way, you minimize the number of queries your employees have to spend time answering.
2.Improve access to Info for workers
An outdated and slow network makes duties even more lengthy and inefficient as staff waste a lot of time trying to access the information they need. Quick and ready access to info among staff is crucial even for a small business. A disintegrated network system makes this process a hell of a task. Therefore, if you are looking to achieve efficiency, invest in the correct tools to allow all workers the right of entry to organizational data. And it goes without mentioning that tech is the ultimate remedy to enabling quick access to data. Cloud-based apps and software can speed up access to the info employees want when they want it.
3.Avoid Short Meetings
Most new entrepreneurs think holding a 15 minute face-to-face meeting every time an issue pops up improves efficiency and productivity. Sadly, this approach leads to time wastage. Instead, communicate through Skype, email, or Whatsapp and ban these short unplanned meetings.
4.Utilize Time Management Software.
Make use of time monitoring software to get things done within specific timelines. For example, your sales team can schedule all the necessary social media posts beforehand and spare less time monitoring them using a tool known as Buffer.
Running a seasonal business is no walk in the park. You must be willing to change with the times. Lay low when sales are low and prepare adequately for a come-back. Don't concentrate too much on profits; maintain your cash flow—that's what small businesses rely on. You also want to reduce expenses to monitor cash flow. And when the high season returns, strive to improve business efficiency with the above tips. Remember, efficiency is all about training your staff to perform a particular task within a short time.