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Whether you’re running a B&B, a marquee hire business or an ice cream van, the challenges of the off-peak season will plague every seasonal business owner as custom begins to wind down and the cold starts to set in. Some might be lucky enough to have winter and summer seasonal businesses, meaning trade year-round, but for most of us the end of the season means the closing down of business for the year.  

You might have packed away the chairs and booked your annual trip to Cyprus, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your company until the beginning of next year. Any small business owner will tell you that you can’t simply turn off during quiet periods; especially if you’re running a seasonal business.

Plan Ahead

Seasonal businesses depend on their owner’s ability to ration funds over the course of the year. Splurging in summer and saving in winter might be tempting when you have an income spread over a short period, but this is a big problem when it comes to unexpected costs in off-peak season.

Plan ahead by keeping on top of your books and tracking every expense. The extra effort will mean the difference between you having more money to invest in the business and struggling to cover extra cost during off-peak months. A quiet business is the perfect time to figure out where you can afford to tighten your purse strings.

Stay Social

When business is booming and you’re rushed off your feet keeping customers happy, you probably won’t have time to tweet your most popular selling ice cream of the season. Unfortunately, if you don’t keep your social media topped up with content, followers can get bored pretty quickly.

Take advantage of the winding down work by updating your social media game. Sports fans don’t stop hearing about their favourite team at the end of the season, so why should your business go incognito? Research which platform your customers are spending time on and build a social media strategy that will last all year round.

Alternative Income

Once you’ve done the finance, you might come to realise that a seasonal business isn’t enough to fund your lifestyle. This could be a hard realisation which means you need to come up with an alternative income when you’re struggling.

During the quiet months, you’ll luckily have time to come up with alternative business ideas which might see you through a tough money situation. Or you could simply spend the time working on a killer marketing strategy that means you’ll gain twice as much custom as normal!

Get Active Online

While you’re spending time working on your social media, it would be a great idea to use this time to focus on your more general online strategy. Have you got your website up and running? Are you creating regular, interesting content? Have you got an email marketing strategy?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you’ve got plenty to do over the quiet period. If you aren’t savvy on the tech side of things you can afford to spend time looking for the perfect person to do it for you, or even invest a time learning about the trade – and saving money in the long run!

Don’t Follow the Crowd

It can be tempting to stick to what you know and do the same as your competitors while you’re off work. Unfortunately, no one ever made great sales by following the crowd. Figure out areas that are problematic for your company, and tackle them head on.

Come up with a marketing strategy that gets your company talked about. For example, Agent Marketing in Liverpool trialled a new working day that got them coverage in national headlines – and made everyone want to work for them! You might not be ready to do anything so drastic, but taking a risk could pay off.

Generate Off-Peak Hype

When the end of season kicks in, you might want to temporarily retire into your slippers until next season rolls around. Gain more business by keeping the hype for your business going all year round. Just because your business is closed, doesn’t mean your industry is!

If you’re part of the hospitality sector, a great way to drum up interest after the season is over is by hosting events or sponsoring community fundraisers. Offer a prize of a free night during peak season and get your name heard while people are planning their next trip.

Customer Reviews

The first thing we do when we’re planning a holiday is check the reviews for our hotel/ destination/ tourist attraction. Ask your guests for their emails before they leave (if you don’t already have them on file) and follow up their visit with a thank you email. This gives you the perfect opportunity to ask them to leave a review and generate interest for the next customers coming to stay.

Communicate with Employees

One of the main struggles of seasonal companies is a high staff turnover. The shortness of seasons means permanent work isn’t much of an option many companies can offer, so clarifying the job role and terms and conditions early on is vital in order to keep staff happy.

If you’re hoping to continue marketing during the off-peak season it is worth considering if any of your employees can help – building a stronger staff relationship when you’re not rushed off your feet can mean a lower staff turnover in the long run.

Seek Tax Advice

Running a seasonal business requires a careful financial planning in order for you to maximise the benefits of tax and VAT schemes. This will vary from business to business, and will depend on your turnover, legal structure and personal income.

To make sure you’re claiming all allowable expense and reliefs, seek advice from a professional accountant. You’ll save more money paying for someone else to do it rather than trying to struggle through the confusion of accounts yourself!

Are you running a seasonal business? What are the biggest challenges your company faces? Leave a comment below!

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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