7 Ways to Boost Year-round Profitability as a Seasonal Business

Running a seasonal business can feel like a game of two halves. For one part of the year, you’re managing operations, building relationships with customers and prospects, managing your team and generally having a great time running your business. Then comes the dreaded off-season. When demand for your offering dwindles, turnover shrinks and your cash flow statement makes for increasingly worrisome reading.

There are many businesses in the agricultural, tourism and even retail sectors for whom the seasonal lull in profits can prove dangerous to business continuity. From bed and breakfasts to landscape gardeners, from ice cream vans to Christmas tree retailers, the ebb and flow of seasonality can be increasingly troubling for many UK small businesses in these economically perilous times. Nonetheless, even in an adverse financial climate, there are a number of ways for seasonal businesses to boost profitability all year round.

Here, we look at 7 ways for enterprising business owners to boost profitability, increasing sales and profit while taking a smarter approach to off-season expenditure.

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Diversify your offering to increase sales and profitability

The pandemic and subsequent lockdown proved a harsh lesson in adaptability for most UK SMEs. This goes double for seasonal businesses. Even now, while the nation and the world have moved on, many businesses still bear the financial and operational scars from being ill-prepared.

In an uncertain economic climate, seasonal businesses need to radically rethink their approach in order to increase profits.

One way in which to do this could be to expand or increase their business offering both in and out of season. During peak season, businesses can boost revenues and make hay while the sun shines, offering an expanded range of products or services and opening up new upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

Many businesses offer discounted pricing to make off-season customs more appealing, but diversification can help here too, bolstering cash flow and increasing company profits. There may be a way in which you can add new services or products to your offering, effectively creating a new add-on business to supplement your current operations. If your offering usually appeals to tourists, could it be adjusted to accommodate business travel and conferences in the off-season? If you offer landscaping services in the summer, could you offer winter-proofing and deicing services to the same customers in your CRM?

While expanding your offering invariably means increased investment, it could pay dividends and boost profitability all year round.

Identify off-peak revenue-building opportunities

If the idea of expanding your offering doesn’t appeal to you, or you don’t have the necessary liquidity to invest in it, you can still identify opportunities to build revenue during the off-season.

For instance, selling gift certificates for use during the peak season can be a great way to build off-peak revenues. Likewise, early bird offers can be extended to customers to help motivate sales during the off-season without the investment that comes with diversifying your offering. Hosting events during off-peak times can also be a great way to make money while also creating an opportunity to collaborate with other businesses and engage meaningfully with your existing customers and new prospects.

Boost profits by managing off-season expenses

Of course, being able to increase business profits isn’t just about building revenue. It’s about managing costs and keeping a healthy distance between the top and bottom lines.

Leveraging business intelligence solutions can help your businesses to better understand their out-of-season expenses and identify opportunities for savings at a time when cash flow is more important than ever.

Keep the content mill churning to maintain your marketing

The off-season is no time to let your marketing efforts fall dormant. Indeed, your out-of-season messaging should be a key component of your marketing strategy. As well as remaining active on social channels, you should also implement a robust content marketing strategy. Content such as blog posts, vlogs, podcasts, infographics and white papers can be a great way of keeping your name and your brand at the forefront of your customers’ minds while also positioning you as a helpful, reliable and knowledgeable resource.

Just make sure that the content you generate is of use and value to your customers all year round, and not just a vehicle for shameless self-promotion. Try to focus on the needs, wants and aspirations of your customers and use that to guide your content strategy.

This can help strengthen customers’ relationships with your business, increase your brand value and encourage customer loyalty.

Keep lines of communication open

Seasonal businesses may find that maintaining good communications with their clientele helps with increasing sales and profit throughout the year. As well as maintaining a regular content marketing schedule, it’s still important to respond to queries over social media and email in a timely manner. These platforms can also be great vehicles for outbound communications, keeping customers up to date with what you’re doing to improve their experience, and exclusive special offers, discounts, promotions and bundles with links to your website, social media accounts or online store.

Consider partnering with other companies

Your seasonal business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Partnering with other non-competing businesses in your area may provide you with an opportunity to reach a new audience, and work together to generate more value for both your customers. Businesses can collaborate to promote one another, leading to increased business profits for both companies or team up on a new product, service or experience that combines both offerings. For instance, BnBs and hotels may offer special meal deals for local restaurants while landscapers may want to offer deals in conjunction with local pavers and other contractors.

Dedicate the off-season to planning

Seasonal businesses know the importance of making hay while the sun shines. However, the off-season is an opportunity to plan, experiment and think ahead to ensure a more profitable peak season. What should you start doing, stop doing (or do in a different way), and continue to do?

Is it time to introduce a new loyalty programme to encourage repeat customers? Are there any changes you should make to your pricing model, and how should you communicate them to your customers?

Clear and careful planning can help you to implement plans that will boost your profits and ensure the continuity of your business throughout the year.

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