If you sell seasonal merchandise, such as holiday decorations, patio furniture or ice cream, you likely have a peak season and an off season. In other cases, you may experience ebbs and flows related to the tourism patterns in your area, rather than the product itself. If your business has seasonal ups and downs, it’s important to plan for the off season as well as the busy season.
Identify Patterns and Plan Ahead
Dealing with the ebb and flow of seasonal businesses can be especially challenging from a cash flow perspective. In particular, it can be hard to cover some expenses during the off season.
To stabilize your cash flow, track your sales and expenses by the month, and use accounting software to create reports that show you how the money flows through the year. In many cases, your business’s expenses may exceed its revenues during the off season, and you need to figure out how much money you should set aside during the busy season to cover your expenses (such as rent, utilities and payroll) during the off season.
Court Off-Season Business
If you want to boost your revenue flow during the off season, you need to court business during that time period. If you own a gift shop in a seasonal tourist town, for example, create an online shop where you can peddle your wares year round. Alternatively, if you sell seasonal products, consider running sales to keep clients interested in your merchandise during the off season.
Find a new product to sell during the off season. For example, if you have an ice cream truck, consider converting to an espresso and hot cocoa truck for the winter. If you teach surfing in the summer, consider offering personal training sessions for surfers during the winter.
Experiment, Create and Develop
Depending on the budget for your business and your business’s financial goals, you may not need to boost sales during the off season. Instead, you may want to let your business go fallow and use that time to experiment with new prototypes, plan your next peak season or develop new products.
For example, if you are a party planner, you could use the off season to build your contact list or network with potential new clients. If you are a designer, head to the drawing table and explore new ideas or learn how to use new design software when business is slow. Regardless of your industry, take some time during the off season to research new marketing ideas, expand your reach over social media, take classes to improve your skills or find other ways to improve your business. Ultimately, you need to decide if you should try to fill the off season with new business or use the time to relax and develop new strategies to keep building your business.