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How To Survive The Peaks And Troughs Of A Seasonal Business

How To Survive The Peaks And Troughs Of A Seasonal Business

Every business will have slow periods and busy periods that you need to navigate, but if you run a seasonal business, peaks and troughs are just part of the territory and they’ll happen every year. It’s difficult to run a seasonal business and survive during those slow periods and if you try to run it in the same way that you would run any other business, you’re likely to fail. Seasonal businesses see a big upturn in sales during their busy periods which means that you can turn a good profit, as long as you’re handling the slow period in the right way. If you’re thinking of opening a seasonal business, here are a few things that you should know.

Workplace with notebook on wood table

Planning your shifts properly is important in any business, but it’s an even bigger concern for seasonal businesses. If you just operate the same shift patterns all year round, you’re likely to be understaffed during the peak periods and overstaffed during the slow season. That means you’re wasting money on staff costs for half the year, and the other half, you’re not giving your customers a good service because you don’t have enough staff on. Ideally, you should run a skeleton staff during the slow period and then increase staff numbers as you start to get busier. It’s best to try shift planning software like Deputy’s to make your shift planning more efficient. You can set yourself a budget so you don’t end up spending too much during the slow periods and it’s simple to move things around and let everybody know when they’re supposed to be working. As long as you spend enough time planning your shifts, you can ensure that you don’t spend too much on staff costs. 

It’s also important that you manage the expectations of your employees when you hire them. If you bring people on board during the busy period, you need to let them know that they’re not going to get as many hours when things slow down. If you don’t manage expectations properly, you’re going to end up with high staff turnover and that’s always a big problem. 

Get Good At Saving 

Managing your finances properly is one of the hardest things about running a seasonal business and it’s the reason that a lot of people get into trouble. They’re fine during the busy period when they’re bringing in enough revenue to cover all of their overheads easily, but when the slow period hits, they realize that they don’t have enough money. If you’re going to run a seasonal business successfully, you need to get good at saving and start building an emergency fund for your business. If you put some money aside each month when you’re busy, you’ll have funds to fall back on if you’re struggling during the quieter months. But if you’re not doing this, you’re just going to end up in a cycle of borrowing and that’s difficult to sustain. 

Find New Sources Of Income 

Even if you’re brilliant at saving, it’s still hard to maintain a business when you aren’t bringing in any money at all, that’s why it’s a good idea to find new sources of income. It might be that you start another side business that you can use to supplement your seasonal business if you’re struggling financially. You could also look into new product lines that are viable all year round, not just seasonally. Some people even get a part time job during the slow period so they have a bit of regular money coming in. You don’t need to earn loads of money but if you can bring in a little extra income during the quiet periods, it will really help to take the strain off. 

Overstock Before Busy Periods 

You only have a small window in which you make the majority of your sales and it’s important that you capitalize on that. If you don’t maximize sales during your peaks, you’ll struggle to survive the troughs. One of the most important things that you need to do is buy excess stock in the lead up to a busy period. The last thing that you want is to lose sales because you don’t have enough stock to meet demand. It’s best to buy more than you need and have some spare than it is to be turning customers away because you miscalculated how much stock you would need. 

Running a seasonal business is always going to be tough but if you follow these tips, you should be able to navigate the peaks and troughs successfully.

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