Most businesses experience seasonal fluctuations which can sometimes be difficult to pin down. These fluctuations can impact everything from customer retention to long-term business planning and the more you understand the cycles, the better you can take advantage of them. There are 7 basic tips you can use to stay profitable year-round and keep your enthusiasm for the job going strong.
There are different types of cycles that your business can be in and each type refers to a boom period followed by a bust one. You can see these cycles in your Customer Relations Management, CRM, data. The most common type is a seasonal cycle with your sales picking up to a peak during one season and then tapering off to a valley in the opposite one. Other cycles include customers visiting a new business just during the grand opening, or a marketing campaign going viral. By using CRM data analysis, you can predict which type of cycle your business is currently in and adjust planning to take better advantage of it in the future.
Once you know what cycle your business is in, you can plan for the next season and those to follow. You can cut back on expenses during slower periods, save capital from faster ones, or even use the slumps to put in the hard work necessary for the next boom season. Some businesses are purely seasonal and sell things specific to one or two holidays on the calendar. These companies can survive through year-round planning, temporary physical locations and robust online presences. For example, if you own a seasonal décor company, then you are likely to see much more business during the winter holidays than you do during the summer ones. You can plan for this and have a summer sale to help people prepare for the winter and monthly newsletters highlighting how different décor pieces can be used or customized before the holidays.
Marketing in a seasonal business can seem counterintuitive because you market more during the slow months than your busiest season. This is because customers will flow through the doors as soon as you stock your shelves with the seasonal items if you start marketing to them when they are budgeting those activities. For instance, some families spend their winter holiday money on items they can use the next spring or summer because those seasons include the activities they like to do together. This means that marketing your line of kids’ gardening tools during the fall can see a rush to get those items under the tree. Not only can this boost your sales during off-seasons, but it can also prepare you and your customers for the rush before opening day of local activities and tourist seasons.
Having multiple income streams for the different stages in your cycle can help you stay afloat and busy for longer, but it is important to plan these streams well. For instance, if you run a landscaping maintenance business during the spring, summer and fall, then you can add a snowplough attachment to your work truck and clear parking lots for your clients during the winter. In this example, the alternative income stream of ploughing snow will rarely, if ever, interfere with your primary stream of cutting grass and trimming back trees.
Seasonal slumps and surges will affect your staff and schedule as much as they affect the rest of your business. You can hire staff on a seasonal basis, but it is important to be clear about the length of the employment during the advertisement and hiring phases. For some companies, hiring seasonally can be a benefit to both the business and employees, especially with the changes in the local workforce involved around schooling. For instance, some college students will be returning home during the summer and a job that lasts for the duration of their break can help them save for the school year without having to talk an employer into hiring them temporarily for a position that is usually permanent.
Keeping in touch with your customer base during the offseason is an excellent way to turn a one-time shopper into a loyal client. There are many unique ways to do this through having events at your location to encouraging social media engagement and email newsletters, you just have to find one that works with your business type. Keeping your website updated with informational blog posts is another good way to keep communication lines open year-round with articles about how to prepare for the upcoming season or how to safely store your equipment for the off-seasons.
Planning for the seasonal changes in your business is a good way to keep your stress level reasonable all year long. This means determining what cycle you are in through CRM analysis, marketing during off-seasons, diversifying your income streams and much more. Keeping the communication strong with both your staff and customers is another good way to prepare for the cycles of business and keep the ups and downs as smooth as possible.
Also published on Medium.