Last month, we discussed how important it is for business owners to prepare for the peaks and valleys of sales or service activity and cash flow. This month, we’ll share some ways you actually can make money if your enterprise is mostly seasonal.
• Expand your merchandise. We read about a bicycle shop that had great income during the warmer months but a big drop in sales during colder weather. So, the owners decided to add indoor bikes and other exercise equipment to even out the cash flow during the wintertime. All of the shop’s merchandise related to personal fitness, so the owners weren’t reaching when they added to their product line.
• Expand your services. Locally, we know about a young man who started a lawn-mowing business. He did okay during the grass-growing seasons but saw his income dry up during the winters. What did he do? He started to offer other services, including landscaping wall construction. He also got into tree trimming and eventually bought a bucket truck to trim large trees during the dormant season. Today, this young man has so much work coming his way, he finds it difficult to schedule a family vacation.
• Go where the sales are. If you’re open to traveling, hop in the van with your products and head out to where people want them. At the very least, market in these other regions and offer mail-order service. If yours is a service or consulting company, use today’s technology to provide “virtual” services to people outside the local area.
• Find niche markets. If you have a general but seasonal customer base, try to focus on a subset of your business and target a smaller audience. One example we saw was a bakery shop owner who found additional sales opportunities— and success— when she began to offer gluten- and sugar-free goodies.
• Build excitement. Promote special events at the shop. Hold an open house. Get your hands on a list of unique holidays and observances and build specials around them. Never underestimate the benefits of getting people inside your doors.
All of these suggestions won’t work for everyone, but even if just a couple are practical, moving forward with them might set you on course to forever removing the “slow” in your business “slow season.”
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Arcadia. A citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.