surf store

Whether they sell beachwear, snowboards, Christmas ornaments or lawn care, many Canadian businesses derive most of their annual revenue in just a few short months a year. Running a seasonal businesses poses many challenges, from finding and keeping good help to carefully nurturing your cash flow to make it last year-long.

From business writer Kathryn Hawkins on Intuit Inc.’s Small Business Blog, here are six ideas on how to make your seasonal business more sustainable and successful.

  • Save money to remain solvent during the slower months. Use historical data to produce a cash-flow projection for the entire year, and use those calculations to determine how much you can afford to spend each month.
  • Minimize your operating costs after the season ends. Employ contract seasonal staff to remain as flexible as possible, and limit the hours your business is open during the off-season.
  • Drive demand during the off-season with special promotions. (Example: many restaurants in ski resort Vail, Colorado offer half-price entrées after the snow melts. Explore using daily-deal sites such as Groupon to attract new clients in slow season.
  • Partner with other businesses to create package deals. Tourist businesses, for instance, might collaborate with local businesses to create joint marketing campaigns.

Read: How To Sell More, More, More for smart strategies from Canada’s fastest growing companies

  • Maintain relationships with customers year-round. Use a customer-loyalty program (or at least an occasional newsletter) to keep in touch with fair-weather clients during the off-season. Encourage customers to follow you on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, by creating content that engages them year-round.
  • Use your downtime to focus on your business strategy. At House of Torment, a Hallowe’en-themed “haunted house,” owner Jon Love spends 11 months a year conducting market research, studying the competition, and improving his haunted attractions.

Read Hawkins’ original post, it comes with a fun, informative infographic summing up the situation facing seasonal service businesses in the U.S.

Rick Spence is president of Canadian Entrepreneur Communications, a Toronto-based business writer, speaker and consultant dedicated to entrepreneurship and helping businesses grow.

Read: More of Rick Spence’s insightful columns on entrepreneurship.

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