If you run a jet ski rental company near Myrtle Beach, an e-commerce site that sells hunting accessories, a ski resort in the Poconos, or some other seasonal business, then you know that the off-season months can be a drag on your bottom line. However, there are still actions that you can take to build your business during the lean months.
Here are 3 things your seasonal business should be doing in the off-season.
1. Focus On What You Can't Do In-Season
Do you have a renovation project that would require you to close your business for a little while? Does your website need an overhaul that would require some downtime? Those are great goals to complete during the off-season slump.
When business is hot, you're often so busy keeping pace with your customers that you don't have time for significant projects. That's why you should keep a running list of "I wish I had time to..." items. Then, when business drops off after the season ends, knock those to-dos off one by one.
One great off-season marketing activity is to solicit positive customer reviews. Use your social media channels to post a nostalgia-themed message related to your niche (for example: "The season just ended a month ago and we've already got a case of cabin fever!"). Then, ask people to submit pictures and talk about their experience at your place of business. Use those reviews and images as social proof for future customers.
According to swap.com, the largest online consignment store, "[O]nline reviews give our visitors a sense of ease that we're not another fly-by-night company. People gain reassurance when they see well-written and positive reviews on our front page."
Also, develop your overall marketing strategy for the next season. How are you going to emphasize your unique selling proposition (USP) to your target market once business picks up again? Sit down, and think about compelling ad copy you can run that will attract more business.
In a nutshell: the off-season is the time to think creatively and do all the behind-the-scenes work that will enable your business to function like a well-oiled machine during the busy weeks.
2. You're In-Season Somewhere
Celebrity stock-picker and CNBC personality Jim Cramer is famous for saying that "there's always a bull market somewhere." His point is that, even if the U.S. markets are down, there's money to be made in one of the foreign exchanges.
That's the way you should view your business. Even though it might be the off-season where you live and work, that doesn't mean it's the off-season for your product or service everywhere.
In this day and age of the global market, you can sell to people anywhere. Even better, thanks to time zone differences, you can sell to them at any time. As the fictitious investor Gordon Gekko once said: "Money never sleeps."
However, you don't just have to go international if you're looking to expand your market. For example: if you sell fishing supplies at the Jersey Shore, that same equipment has broad appeal to people who fish in Florida all year long. Why not set up an e-commerce site that offers great tackle at a discount and market it specifically to people who live in warmer climates?
3. Offer Discounts
According to the team at 24 Option, "Prices in any market are dictated by the laws of supply and demand. Generally speaking, the higher the demand for a product or service, the more it's going to cost. Markets with soft demand offer lower prices."
Obviously, the demand for your product or service is going to be sluggish in the off-season. As a result, you should consider lowering your prices accordingly.
Go through your inventory and mark down prices to keep up with the drop in demand. You'll find that you keep the cash register ringing while at the same time you generate good will with local customers.
Speaking of local customers, the off-season is an excellent time to market specifically to people in your immediate area who stay there throughout the year. If you run a business in a resort location that turns into something resembling a ghost town when the season ends, you'll find that there are still people who live in the area who need a place to eat and/or shop. Discount your prices to keep those people happy while running ads that let people in the community know that you're running a months-long sale.
Wrapping It Up
A seasonal business presents unique challenges when compared with companies that operate at full speed year-round. However, with a little bit of creative problem solving and some attention to particulars during the off-season, you can keep your business healthy and profitable.