The thing about being in a seasonal business is that you have to expect to be “in business” for only 2 to 3 months of the year. A seasonal business like mine (artificial Christmas trees) needs creativity, a good business plan, and a whole lot of strategy to thrive throughout the year.
We have come to expect a time when products are selling like hotcakes, and a time when we just want to move units out of storage. Coming up with different techniques to fuel income during the slimmer season is the point to hit on when looking to flesh out your fiscal year.
1. Plan Your Year Ahead.
It never hurts to plan, and in a seasonal business, you have to plan ahead. Plot the high and low seasons and work out back up plans for both. Create marketing strategies and techniques for each season so that you know you have enough circulating business to last until the next high season of the coming year. Plan your financials as well – don't spend too much in the high season, and prepare to spend a little more in the low.
Post-season sales are part of any business, and if you have excess stock that won't be in tune with the coming season, then offer discounts, freebies, and promos on your products. Discount to almost wholesale, but not enough to lose profits. Offer sales at times when people yearn for the season that your business caters to, like during the summer for a Christmas decoration business, to remind them of crisp, cold weather in a season about staying cool.
3. Market Your Business Strategically.
Think creatively and market your business in a whole new light. Trend products or services differently than expected, like Michael Jones of Chicago In Bloom Floral & Events, wherein he turned his flower shop into an art gallery during a slow summer to showcase art with his main product while reaching a visibility he might not have achieved otherwise. Even one-time events can pick up a slow year!
Also, reach out to press in new ways to show customers you're still there and thinking of great things. Seasonal businesses are often forgotten in their off months, so keep your business visible to the customer. Create a mailing list, as Rhonda Abrams of USA Today suggests, emailing or mailing them news and product announcements monthly. Creating name and brand recognition in the customer's mind will ensure their continued business in the coming high season or during the slow months.
4. Make Buying Experience Enjoyable.
Good customer service is a reassurance that clients will keep coming back. Make it a pleasant experience for them to deal with your business, even for difficult customers, and you're almost guaranteed they will return. Put extra effort into getting each product to them on time and in smart packaging, as customers respond to the care you put into their purchase.
5. Personal Touch
Whether online or through other means, make sure that your interaction with the customer remains pleasant and agreeable. Create a website, a Facebook fan page, or a forum wherein your customers can put their thoughts and suggestions for your business. This can also be the opportunity to manage your reputation by going through review sites or magazines and explaining your side of the story during a customer complaint or thanking the customer for a favorable review. The Internet is the perfect forum for cheap, no-fuss customer communication where you make sure that your business always stays in the good.
Help your seasonal business thrive every month of the year by planning ahead and using creativity. Making sure your seasonal business stays in the green can be as easy as compiling a mailing list or as involved as switching gears to include a new market—it all depends on what your business needs.
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Isabella York has been in the business world her entire life. Having seen business cycles ebb and flow, she knows a thing or two about developing strategies for changing demands, however, her job with a purveyor of Artificial Christmas Trees and Christmas Trees has catapulted this skill set to a new level.