How to Prepare for Seasonal Ebbs and Flows in Your Small Business
As a small business owner, you might be familiar with predictable fluctuations in your workload. While some companies might stay fairly busy all year long, your products and services might have an inherent seasonal element to them that makes your summers super busy and your winters less so, or vice versa.
Common examples of businesses that have a seasonal cycle to them include inns and hotels that get a lot of summer guests; holiday-related companies like Christmas tree or pumpkin farms; gyms and workout facilities that are especially busy in January; and gardeners and landscapers.
Regardless of what type of small business you own, it’s important to prepare for these natural ebbs and flows. With some pre-planning and a positive attitude, it’s more than possible to weather the seasonal cyclicality and actually become busier than ever. Consider the following tips and advice:
Create a business plan
As Mind Tools notes, it’s imperative to avoid sticking your head in the proverbial sand about your company’s ups and downs. Rather, accept them and create a business plan that takes these natural lulls into account. Take a close look at your operating expenses and how much you will need to earn during the busy times to help you get through the leaner months. Then, determine on paper how many temporary employees you’ll need to hire to get you through a busy period, and then what your staffing needs will look like when you get into a predicted slump. Once you have the facts and figures on paper, it will give you a much-clearer idea of how much revenue you’ll need and how to better manage your business budget.
Stay in touch with your clients
When your workload drops and you suddenly have more time on your hands than you are used to, sit down at your computer or phone and start reaching out to your clients to let them know you are ready and willing to work with them. For example, if you own your own landscaping company and business slows way down when the weather gets cooler, mention to your regular customers that you are still available to come by and trim tree branches that are hovering too close to power lines, or that you are happy to help them plan winter-friendly gardens that thrive in the cooler temperatures. As Intuit notes, come up with ways to continue doing your work during the off seasons, only in more clever and “outside of the box” sorts of ways. To help entice your regular customers to hire your company during these natural down times, you might consider offering special discounts or coupons; for example, a “Winter Wonderland” sale on landscaping services.
Prepare and get ready for the busy times
While it’s certainly important to come up with ways to weather the seasonal drops in work, it’s just as vital to properly prepare for the busy times of year. If, for example, you work in the insurance industry and you plan for a big seasonal push to get new clients every fall, you might consider buying leads from a company like QuoteWizard ahead of time; this will allow your sales team to work more efficiently and have the names of potential new clients ready to go. In addition, to make the lucrative times of year as stress-free as possible, make sure you hire enough extra people before the busy period begins. If you work as a wedding planner and most of your clients are tying the knot during the summer, don’t wait until June 1 to look for employees to help you set up the receptions. You can hire independent contractors short term, but be sure you do it far enough ahead of time to properly train them and get them ready to go. In addition, once you have your extra staff hired and ready, Insureon suggests delegating some of your usual work to them; this will help prevent you from spreading yourself too thin and will also give you a good idea of which temporary workers you might want to offer full-time work to once the busy season ends.
Photo provided by Social Monsters with permission to use.