Now that summer officially is here, the days are long and the warm weather spurs us to engage in more outdoor activities. Most colleges and many high schools have hosted their graduation ceremonies, and millions of Americans head for the fun and the sun of the shore.
With gas prices down to 10-year lows, many Americans will be traveling to various by car. Whether enjoy camping, barbecuing, taking a day trip into a nearby city or simply booking a summer vacation, people will be spending money more freely over the next few months. Consumer spending, a major driver the economy improved at its fastest pace in nearly seven years in April 2016, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In addition, personal income and household spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of America's economic output, also increased. These figures come at a time where the economy has shown noticeable signs of improvement and unemployment rates are near pre-recession levels. This is good news for many small businesses nationwide, but it is important for them to take advantage of this and maximize their earnings potential. Here are three tips for small business owners to consider during the warm weather months:
Offer summer-themed promotions
Take advantage of opportunities presented by the calendar and the weather. The Fourth of July presents a wide-range of opportunities, including American-themed promotions. Restaurants and other food retail businesses can take advantage of National Ice Cream Day on July 17 and National Waffle Day on August 24. Bars and nightclubs can plan for occasions such as National Pina Colada Day (July 10), National Daiquiri Day (July 19), and National Tequila Day (July 24).
"We are featuring different summer cocktails and infused vodkas, which are quite popular. We use the special occasions to highlight new products, including tequilas for National Tequila Day in July," said Shaun Clancy, owner of Foley's NY Pub & Restaurant in Manhattan.
A Ladies Night Out event can draw in customers with discounts, opportunities to network, and special offers. Mara's Cafe in Fanwood, New Jersey, hosts a series of music nights that helps attract crowds who will order coffee and dessert while enjoying the performances.
Engage in Cause-Related Marketing
Building relationships is what business is all about. However, it is also important to be mindful of the events and needs in your community. After all, without your loyal customers, you don't have a business and helping a worthy cause is a great way to demonstrate gratitude. Further, it shows that your company's concerns are beyond its bottom line and that resonates with customers.
For example, Deep River Snacks, a gourmet producer of gluten-free, non-GMO potato chips and other packaged snacks is a strong believer in cause-related benefits. Hence their company motto-a play on words-"Because we give a chip!" The company has committed to donating at least 10% of net profits to charities and other benefit organizations. Each bag of Deep River Snacks features a unique charity partner that has impacted the life of one of the Connecticut-based company's employees. The cause-related marketing on the packages helps raise awareness for non-profit organizations and charities by providing additional background information on the issue. In 2014, the company donated 14% of its profits to charity and is an example of "doing well by doing good." The firm projects $35 million in sales this year.
Manage Cash Flow
Dealing with the ebbs and flows of business operations can be challenging, especially when the changing of the seasons has a direct impact on your company. Know your fixed and variable costs and how seasonality impacts them. If summer is a time when revenues are high -- boardwalk food stands and souvenir shops, landscapers, ice cream shops, etc. -- squirrel away funds for times when income will be leaner. Create a best- and worst-case analysis to help prepare your finances for the future. A change of seasons is a perfect time for business owners to reassess their company's business strategy and plan.
While it is easy to revert focus to the bottom line and sales, making sure that a business plan aligns with your company vision keeps your company on track for success. If you're not sure whether you need to redevelop or modify your business plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Has your product or service changed?
- Is there new competition in your market?
- Has management and/or organization structure changed?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it is imperative to update your business plan. An outdated plan not only hinders a business's strategy, but it can also play a negative role when it comes to borrowing money. When potential lenders or investors see a business plan that isn't up-to-date, it creates cause for concern.
Biz2Credit will host a free, one-hour online webinar Marketing and Managing Your Business This Summer on Wednesday, June 29 at 3:00 p.m. EDT featuring entrepreneur Anita Campbell, founder of SmallBizTrends.com. Anita and other panelists will offer insights on these tips and more to small business owners seeking ways to maximize production this season. Entrepreneurs can register here.