Businesses with products or services that only sell well at specific times of the year can find it tough to make sales during the rest of the year. Here are some tips for seasonal businesses wanting to get the most out of their operations, all-year-round.
Plan for the highs and lows
The first thing to do is to build a sales plan, broken down into months or even weeks, and by category, to get a good grip on exactly how much you sell, what you sell and when you sell it. This will allow you to identify the months of peak sales and those with the lowest sales, and to adjust stock accordingly to avoid overbuying.
It's a good idea to develop a sales and cash flow forecast as well.
Pay attention to market and consumer trends
Keeping an eye on market and consumer trends is important for a seasonal business as it allows you to market smarter, according to consumer needs and wants in both low and high seasons. For instance, you're a sunscreen retailer that typically sees a sales boom in summer, but you read that consumers are increasingly becoming more conscious of skin cancer risks, even in winter.
A good marketing approach would be to capitalise on this trend - perhaps by sending out a customer email during low season reminding them of the benefits of SPF.
Trends can also be found within your own database - for instance, noticing that a specific product is especially popular with certain demographics such as young people or women can help you better target these groups.
Keep your brand at the forefront of customers' minds
In addition to planning and paying attention to trends, a good marketing strategy also includes maintaining brand awareness at all times. This ensures that customers don't 'forget' about your business once the season changes.
Some quick ways you can do so are:
Establishing a loyalty program
- Social media http://dnbsmallbusiness.com.au/FAQs/How_can_I_get_involved_in_social_media_to_promote_my_business/indexdl_8513.aspx
Introduce a new product to fill the gap
Developing a new product to be sold during the low sales season is a good idea as long as there's a need for such a product and your business has the capacity to fund and execute the product's development. Depending on your industry, you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time - making slight tweaks to a product may be all you need to fill the gap.
Maintain skeleton operations off-season
A good cost-cutting measure is to ensure that you have the right amount of staff employed at the right time. It may not be wise to maintain a full suite of staff during low-peak seasons as consumer demand will be low. You may want to employ casuals for the extra admin and paperwork you have to complete in high-demand seasons, but scale back to skeleton or core operational staff for periods of low sales.