The hardest thing about running a seasonal business is keeping some momentum going during the off season. I run a seasonal shaved ice business that remains open four months out of the year. Since I am closed more months in a year than I am open, I try to make the most out of the eight months of down time.
Participate in Special Events
The single most important thing you can do is to stay productive during the off season. During our off season, we are continuously trying to get our name out there and people familiar with our product. We do that by participating in special events in the community throughout the year. For example, Thomas Jefferson's home, Poplar Forest, is located in my community, and they have an annual event that brings in people from all over the country. We were one of the many vendors at this event. Along with getting great exposure, our sales skyrocketed that day.
We generally are open from May through September. Another very timely event we participated in was After-Prom at the local high school. We made ourselves available for four hours that night, or maybe I should say morning, to 400 high school students. The prom takes place in April and is a wonderful advertising stint to promote the re-opening of our business for the season, which is just within weeks after the prom.
Frequent Facebook Postings
Another way of keeping our name floating around in customers' subconscious is to keep the business name visible during the off season. We have a Facebook page and group that I constantly post on and send out to members, maintaining constant contact and interchanges with them. Keeping customers actively engaged by asking their advice on favorite flavors of shaved ice and encouraging them to submit creative combinations to be considered in next season's menu proves to be a very successful strategy. By showing that we value our customers' opinion and that they are never forgotten even when we aren't open for business, a wonderful relationship is built during the off season. To tie in with this, we post and send out holiday greetings to all of our customers on Facebook and send out invitations to join our group in attempt to grow our customer base for the next season.
Re-Evaluate Business Plan
After working 70 hours a week for four months, it is nice to take some time to step back and recharge your batteries. This is a great time to analyze and re-evaluate your business plan when you've had some distance and are working with a clearer mind. Take this time to figure out what worked and what didn't work and what can be improved upon.
Enjoy your physical time away from your seasonal business, but stay productive during this time as well. It will most likely improve your relationship with your customers and bring in more revenue all at the same time.
More from Caryl Cress Ramsey:
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