If you run a business driven by sunny summer days and a steady flow of out-of-town visitors, you've become accustomed to the annual off-season slowdown. Navigating the highs and lows of a seasonal business can be tricky, but the most successful companies know that making the most of the fall and winter months is key.
Think of your business as a championship sports team. The more you can maximize your downtime, the better you’ll perform once it’s time to return to the field.
1. Don’t Forget About Your Fans
Even if your physical location shuts down for the season, there are more profitable plans of action than just hanging a sign on the door that says “See You Next Year.”
Keep in touch with your customers with emails, postcards, letters and promotions. Send out surveys. Ask them what they want, what they need and how you can help them.
2. Take Stock of Your Wins and Losses
It may be hard to think of “no income” as a perk, but having time to think is a luxury for any business owner. Take time to assess your past season performance and figure out how to repeat what you did right and correct what you did wrong. It’s important to involve as many people as possible to give yourself a well-rounded review.
3. Add to Your Playbook
The off-season is a great time to dip your toes into new revenue streams. Maybe enough people asked for your salsa recipe that it’s about time to bottle it yourself. Or maybe the people who bought all your t-shirts might be interested in hoodies and hats.
Think about what worked and how you can make those things keep working all year long. And never underestimate the power of a great partnership!
4. Tighten Up Your Roster
The people you pay are just as important as the people who pay you. Finding great help is often one of the biggest challenges for smaller, seasonal businesses. Save yourself undue stress by getting a jump on the process. Lock in employees who plan on returning and start recruiting your next customer service superheroes.
5. Flex Your Digital Marketing Muscles
If the idea of online marketing fills you with dread and fear, I’ve got some bad news: You can’t avoid your website forever. If you have a website, the off-season is a great time to refresh some of the content and design. If you don’t have a website, it’s never been easier (or cheaper) to create an online presence for your company. It doesn’t have to be flashy or fancy, but it needs to exist.
Because you know what happens when potential customers search Google and they don’t find you? They don’t find you.
6. Reward Your MVPs
Speaking of connecting with your customers, it’s a much better use of your resources to keep selling to your existing customers. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent, but the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent!
Why not reach out with deep discounts for repeat customers, free gifts or some sort of frequent buyer bonus? Even if you’re “99% sure” that you’ll get their business again, why not send them an offer that makes it 100%?