Owning a seasonal business is tougher than it seems. Even for companies that sell a lot during their peak time, there is still a great deal of concern about how the off-season will turn out. Proper management is essential to help the business thrive during peak times and survive through the low times.
In worst-case scenarios, a seasonal business may experience an off-season without selling a single product. For this reason, businesses with seasonal goods or services must prepare themselves for the lean periods. These are some of the ways they can improve sales throughout the year:
1 – Prospect for new clients and cultivate relationships with existing customers
In periods that selling activity is low, sales people have more available time to pursue new business. The off-season is the best to start an outbound marketing strategy. The sales staff can pick up the phone and send emails. This prospecting period is also an opportunity promote special events, upcoming sales and to improve the customer experience; learn what the customers liked about the product or service and how to improve the business in the future.
The off-season is also an ideal time to make the first contact with potential customers and prepare for the next peak season.
2 – Diversify the product or service offering
If your products portfolio is small, there is a better chance that you will struggle with seasonality. Look for opportunities to develop product lines that have different peak seasons to minimize this problem or – ideally – discover products which are not seasonal, so you can keep overall revenues consistent.
For example, if you have a “snowshoes” store, develop a “beach footwear” product line to sell during the warmer months.
3 – Develop a Seasonal Pricing strategy
Seasonal pricing means charging different prices for products or services, depending on demand. The strategy for the “snowshoes” product line could be to lower prices or offer discounts in the summer to stimulate the off-season demand.
Demand pricing is a good strategy, but it must be cautiously studied before implemented. If customers are not price-sensitive, you may reduce revenues even further. Aside from that, customers may start understanding the pattern and stop buying in peak season, waiting for the price reductions. This approach could cause a shift in the demand, instead of increasing it.
4 – Keep customers’ curiosity
Create a blog and social media strategy with content related to your products, even during the off-peak season. Consider relating your product to the off-season context. If you farm and sell berries, for example, you can write blog posts about “smoothie recipes with frozen berries” to keep customers engaged.
5 – Improve Peak-Season sales
Perhaps the most obvious strategy is this one: if you can only sell your product 3 months a year, focus on increasing revenues to the point where the off-season is irrelevant and not a detriment to your business.
To be successful with this strategy, you must understand (and calculate) how much you need to sell to compensate for the off-season and develop methods to improve your sales to reach this objective.
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