Time tracking

How to Manage a Seasonal Business

The intricacies of running a business are intense, almost two-fold if you’re managing a seasonal business. Companies that work within industries with a steady flow of demand have an entire year to get their services, products, and finances in order. Seasonal businesses, on the other hand, need to account for their high-demand busy seasons, and their slower, low-demand seasons and plan accordingly.

If you operate within this business seasonality and deal with seasonal employment, then you’ll need to know how to navigate your industry’s ebbs and flows. Here are some seasonal business ideas to take on board to help you prepare for the highs and lows of your calendar year.

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What is a Seasonal Job?

A seasonal job refers to employees specifically hired for a short term or seasonal period. Seasonal employees typically have a part-time or temporary position within a company. A business will need extra human resources to help with a higher demand for holidays and other seasonal activities.

Specific industries will have a greater demand for seasonal work over others, like the retail and service industries. During the holiday seasons, such as Christmas and summer break, many retail stores and restaurants will hire additional workers to cover the increased demand.

The hospitality industry also fluctuates throughout the year, with their busy seasons revolving around the actual seasons. Park resorts may only be open over the summer break, or ski chalets in wintertime. In this sense, these are businesses based on actual seasons. The construction industry is also significantly impacted by the four seasons.

If your small business deals with seasonal employment, whether due to high demand or lack thereof, then it’s essential to take advantage of the high-demand seasons to help prepare you for the slow periods and off-seasons.

Know the Cycles of Your Seasonal Business

Running a seasonal business means knowing the cycle of your industry and its revenue fluctuation year-round. To properly prepare for your business’ seasonality, you will need to plan for the increased revenue of your peak season to offset the low cash flow of your off-season.

Gathering sales data throughout the year, from the holiday season and peak season to your slower months, can help you with these efforts. Knowing the exact times of the year when your business is at its highest can help prepare you for and cover the low-revenue dips and valleys.

Consider cash flow during off-seasons

Plan your cash flow in terms of the whole calendar year and not just from one season to the next. By looking at the full picture of your business seasonality, you can start to plan how your revenue and expenses will add up throughout your seasonal demand.

If you have an increased positive cash flow during your peak season, your business can improve its efforts to save for the off-season. Once your industry’s slow time of year comes around, you can cut back on expenses to limit the outflow of your cash to prepare for the next season.

Save tasks for the slow times

During the busy season, it might be hard to find time to do all the things you need to do to manage your business successfully. On top of your day-to-day responsibilities, maybe you want to undertake an overhaul of your internal procedures or inventory methods as a means to improve overall functionality.

If you can cover these responsibilities yourself, and they are not time-sensitive, then you may want to save them for the slower months. Undertaking these tasks at a later date can give you more flexibility when dealing with high demand seasons, letting you focus on your busy services.

However, if these tasks are enormous undertakings that require the human resources and finances that your busier seasons provide, then it is best to prioritize these responsibilities, so they are completed before the slow season hits.

Diversify during the offseason

If your core business revenue sources dry up during a few months every year, then consider diversifying into other revenue streams. Whether exploring new options within your industry or taking on work outside your typical responsibilities, finding new income streams will help keep your business afloat.

Here are some various other sources of income seasonal business owners might try tapping into during the slow seasons:

  • Freelance and contract work
  • Reselling
  • Investing in real estate
  • Investing in the market
  • Upsell your current services
  • Lease your office space or business equipment

Take the seasonality in construction, for example. Whether an owner of a construction company or one of the employees who works within it, diversifying your revenue stream, as well as skills, during the winter months, will hold you in good stead in all seasons. Consider what other industry-relevant revenue streams you can take on. For seasonal workers, try securing a temporary position that adds experience to your skill set that can be used within other industry sources.

Manage your seasonal workers appropriately

If you typically hire numerous part-time or full-time workers to cover your seasonal demand, you know their positions are temporary. It is always best to ensure your new hires know they will only be with you for the season. Being upfront and transparent about their work contract is always best.

Knowing what type of worker they are is also helpful to you. As your time tracking, scheduling, and payroll process is dependent on the kind of employees you have. By defining them as seasonal employment, you can follow the appropriate labour laws and regulations that dictate how much they are paid and how many hours they can work within a week.

Keep up advertising when your competitors go quite

During the off-season, your competitors may stop their advertising efforts in order to save money. However, if your business budget has successfully planned for its seasonal cash flow and saved some profits from your busy season, you can still funnel a small number of funds into your marketing efforts. This will allow your business to get its brand and products in front of your audiences when others have stopped.

By still advertising in your off-seasons, you keep your social media channels open to stay in touch with customers. It will keep your products fresh in their minds year-round, while you also gain insight into your target audience’s needs and wants. Keeping your advertising efforts running will help you build your relationships with customers while also preparing you for your increased seasonal work down the line.

Use Software Tools to Help You Manage in All Seasons

Managing a seasonal business comes with its ups and downs- figuratively and literally. Finding quality software to help with employee scheduling and payroll processing can do wonders for small businesses during those busy months. Accurate time tracking and employee management can also save you money for your industry’s low-revenue months.

Try it free today to implement this software in your processes to prepare in time for your busy seasons.

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