In a perfect world, customers utilize products and services at evenly spaced intervals throughout the year, precisely timed to make the best use of employees and other resources. In reality, however, as the owner of a seasonal business--whether an ice cream shop, a pop-up Halloween outlet or a landscaping company--you'll experience the challenges of the dreaded off-season. After your peak season ends, what usually follows is a frustrating lull during which workers and equipment sit idle, costs mount and profits shrivel. 

The ebb and flow tied to the calendar year is referred to as the flux of seasonality for small businesses, and although it happens year after year, many seasonal business owners struggle with how to remain profitable year-round. 

Investing in an add-on business can be advantageous: Entrepreneurs can offer timely services to boost revenue while also working on growth plans for the primary business. The key to identifying a suitable add-on business is to leverage skills that have already been developed. It would be smart, for example, for landscaping business owners to also offer outdoor holiday lighting and decorating services or snow removal, or for someone who offers pool heater repair throughout the summer to offer furnace repair come winter.

Once a suitable add-on service is established, there are several key benefits and considerations for dual seasonal business owners to understand when running two businesses:

Diversify services

This is one of the main benefits of an add-on seasonal business. Not only does the offering of ongoing services help generate consistent cash flow, but is also helps maintain strong loyal clientele and attract new customers you might have not otherwise attracted. Diversified services will put you in the position to be considered a one-stop-shop for all services in your respective field.

Even with two businesses, owners still need to be creative and pursue opportunities year-round. For example, while Christmas Decor--a holiday lighting and decorating franchise--primarily provides home decorating services around the winter holiday season, we also offers lighting designs for other festive occasions such as New Year's, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, as well as designs to match a family's favorite sports team or local high school's colors. Keep opportunities like these in mind during your business's off-season--and make sure to never lose sight of potential business opportunities that may arise with a bit of creativity.

Allocate management and preserve staff

Dual businesses also mean dual management teams. It's critical for business owners to hire a manager for each seasonal business to help alleviate the pressure of juggling multiple operations. With seasonal businesses comes the hassle of hiring, terminating, and training employees each season. Rather than deal with this time-consuming cycle, operating dual businesses for both the winter and summer seasons allows franchisees to maintain a full staff year-round. A more consistent team of employees gives business owners the opportunity to annually assess performance and maintain A-team players.

Promote both businesses to retain customers

Running businesses for counter seasons allows business owners to cross-promote. A pool heater repair business with an add-on winter furnace repair can leverage its established client base and promote corresponding services--which not only boosts revenues but helps maintain client relationships. Working with the same client base provides business owners the opportunity to take advantage of existing relationships for next season's business and, just as importantly, keep engagement with customers year-round.

Take advantage of the off-season and think ahead 

Seasonal marketers that think long-term and use their off-season time wisely can help tee their business up for incredible success when peak season begins again. While one business is in its off-season, business owners and managers should use the extra time to outline their growth plan, assess business needs, and set goals and profit targets for the next season. This might include calculating the ideal number of clients to retain, adjusting the training process for efficiency, updating/ordering/maintaining equipment, conducting pricing evaluations, building a mailing list, and determining appropriate marketing tactics.

Merely investing in an add-on seasonal business is not enough to sustain a steady income. With the investment comes a great deal of time and energy in familiarizing yourself with a new service and transitioning from a six-month to a year-round business--but with the right amount of patience and dedication, the payoff can be huge.

Published on: Oct 17, 2014