Almost 90% of businesses have seen an occasional dip in sales, regardless of what niche or industry they are in. Most often, fluctuations in demand are observed at certain times of the year. Sales can be influenced by the weather, holiday periods, or your target audience’s spending habits; in most cases, you can predict recurring changes and prepare for a lull in business. Here are a few tips on how to run a seasonal business.
Effective ways to stimulate demand during the slow season
Seasonal changes affect almost all goods and markets; high-demand periods can alternate with quieter months. However, there are several ways to stimulate consumer activity during off-peak seasons.
Make special offers. Offer discounts, free shipping, gifts or other bonuses for customers. Consider making special offers to specific market segments such as corporate clients or families with children.
Diversify your business. This can be done by expanding what services or products you offer outside of peak seasons, adding new categories, or expanding your company’s geographical presence.
Get creative. Consider creating new products or services, apply new technologies, or experiment with advertising channels and other innovative initiatives.
Bring new products to the market. Create new products or services that your customers might be interested in outside of peak seasons. At the start, research your market to understand which products or services will be in demand in a particular period and develop a marketing and promotion strategy for them.
Optimize your inventory levels. Companies can temporarily scale back on offering products that are not in demand during a certain time of year, instead expanding into different services or products that could attract customers.
Cost optimization is key during seasonal fluctuations, as it helps maintain profitability and stay afloat. There are several ways to keep your costs down.
Seasonal work patterns. Consider a periodic reduction in working hours or the redistribution of staff to other projects. This helps reduce payroll costs and the cost of maintaining operations during downtime.
Contract-based operation. This type of operation, where you can order a batch of goods only when you need it, helps cutting the costs of production, storage and transportation of goods.
Rethink your advertising costs. The general recommendation is to continue promotional activities during low periods, but on a smaller scale and with a limited budget, to maintain interest in the company’s products among potential customers. You might also want to consider changing your focus and promoting other products and complementary services.
Consider shifting to a different target market. This strategy can help maintain demand during the low season. For example, start offering your products in another region or country where seasonality differs from your main market.
Create a safety net: Crisis management
Expand your inventory. Adding new products or services will help attract new customers and keep old ones interested.
Extend to new target markets/audiences. Exploring new markets and finding partners for mutually beneficial cooperation also helps boost sales.
Engage with your client base. When you have limited opportunities to attract new customers, it is advisable to strengthen your relationships with regular clientele. Use some effective tools such as new loyalty and incentive programs, collect and analyze their feedback. This helps increase your business’s returning customer rate.
Use off-season time for non-essential tasks. Tasks like employee training, renovations at your premises, and development of new projects fit perfectly into periods of downtime and prepare your business for the next peak season.
Embrace the situation and adapt. Changing work schedules, hiring additional employees, increasing or decreasing production capacity will help the company respond faster to seasonal changes in demand and remain competitive.
By Dmitry Morgunov, entrepreneur, co-founder of the SneakNFresh shoe cleaning and repair chain