Not all businesses are consistently in-demand for the entire year. Your company may be operating in an industry that sees the bulk of its activity focused on just a couple of seasons. For some smaller companies, the demand here may be enough to offset the loss from the rest of the year. However, whether or not this is practical, it’s certainly not the way to make the most of your enterprise.
The fact is, there are almost always activities your business can perform to boost income in the off-season periods. This doesn’t mean to say it’s necessarily easy. Making the right adjustments to suit your goals and the priorities of your stakeholders can certainly be challenging. It may even require some upfront investment. As such, it’s important to establish the methods and outcomes that are appropriate for your business.
We’re going to take a look at some of the activities worth considering as you establish ways your business can maximize profits during the off-season.
Strategize Your Seasons
Getting the most profit from the off-season requires effective forward planning. The first step here is to fully assess your seasons. This is about better understanding your business and learning how the off-season affects your budget and practices. Review your full expenses during your slower periods. Chart the waves of traffic from different channels throughout the year. Look at staff productivity levels and gaps in engagement.
Wherever possible, gain the input of staff members from multiple departments here. They’ll have more nuanced information about how seasonal drop-off impacts both the day-to-day operations as well as the big-picture issues. If necessary, it can be worth collaborating with a data analyst to identify and assess the most appropriate information for you to build your strategy on. Use this data to identify areas in which productivity, supply, and demand need to be addressed at various times of the year. This also provides you with greater clarity on the challenges your business faces.
From here, it’s important to formalize your approach to tackling the off-seasons. Don’t just be reactive when the lull hits. Make plans for the run-up to the slow periods. Ensure the resources are in place to make those months more profitable while also maintaining readiness for your return to traditionally busy periods. Importantly, include post-season reviews of these new measures in your strategy so you can continue improving year on year.
Design New Seasonal Services
Ostensibly, the simplest answer to maximizing profits in the off-season is creating new seasonal offerings. This is, of course, more complex and potentially costly than it sounds. After all, your business plan and product range may well be designed around helping consumers address specific challenges. Part of your consideration here must surround whether your processes can be adjusted to focus on alternative markets in the off-season.
Often, the key issue here isn’t about whether the adjustment is possible; it usually is. Rather, the most relevant question to ask is whether your business has people on staff who can ensure your business adapts efficiently. Expert supply chain managers have logistical and interpersonal skills essential for overcoming such obstacles. Their analytical abilities empower them to identify not just potential problems on the horizon but market gaps you could exploit, too.
Indeed, one of the most valuable attributes you need to encourage both supply chain leaders and heads of other departments is innovation. Designing new seasonal services takes outside-of-the-box thinking. Before committing to introducing new services, it can be wise to focus on developing this innovative skill set within your workforce. This can either be through recruiting more diversely experienced staff or providing training focused on creative thinking.
Provide Discounts and Packages
Even if you decide to target new off-season markets, it’s vital not to ignore your core consumers. Loyalty is one of the most valuable assets your business has. It’s not just that customer retention directly results in repeat sales. Your marketing efforts and public profile are bolstered by high-quality customer experiences. As such, one of the risks you need to manage in the off-season is the potential for your customers to forget about you.
One way to approach this is through providing discounts and packages related to your usual offerings. Some businesses are reluctant to resort to this as discounts and packages tend to amount to a slash in profits. However, it’s just as important to weigh the impact of cuts against the impact of lost consumers. Particularly when it comes to perishable goods, sticking to your profit-margin guns can result in wasted stock.
Most businesses expect to lose money in the off-season. Creating discounts can mean your company can make just enough steady income to ensure you don’t dip into the red. Importantly, it can keep the momentum of your relationship with your consumers going at times when they wouldn’t usually be interacting with you. Indeed, offering packages with trial access to premium products can introduce customers to services they wouldn’t usually buy. This can result in greater uptake of these higher price-point items during the on-season.
Leverage Your Staff Needs
Staff is one of the biggest challenges in the off-season. At times of low consumer engagement, keeping your full staff employed can be a significant drain on profits. At the same time, reducing your staff numbers when demand drops can be detrimental to your company culture. Staff who don’t feel confident in their job security are not likely to commit to your business fully.
It is, therefore, wise to find new ways to leverage your staff requirements and retain as much of your workforce as possible. You’ll generally find the most effective approach to this is through cross-skills hiring. Create roles where staff can switch between areas of most urgent need with the seasonal shifts. This could include moving your customer service staff to remote operations at times of minimal consumer foot traffic.
Your success here will rely on investing in training your staff to be more agile in their activities. Wherever possible, this should be part of your ongoing staff development program. You’re not just creating a workforce suited to your changing needs, you’re also empowering them to be more skilled contributors. This is a win for everyone involved. After all, one of the key priorities for the current cohort of workers is that their employers should be willing to invest in their development.
Engage in Valuable Partnerships
There is value in your business striking out as a lone innovator in your industry. Nevertheless, all businesses can benefit from selectively engaging in powerful partnerships. Usually, this means collaborating with suppliers or consultants. But there are also ways you can establish mutually valuable partnerships to keep your business profitable during the off-season periods.
This can certainly begin with utilizing different suppliers who can provide you with goods that are currently popular as the seasons shift. However, it’s also worth considering partnerships with those who can boost your core services to new markets. What is off-season in your home country may be in demand abroad. The digital landscape has made interacting with the global marketplace more feasible. Connecting with partners who can introduce you to foreign markets may help mitigate your usual profit loss.
It’s also worth considering partnerships in the local community. While your core business may be slowing down, there are likely to be community events year-round. Consider working with your chamber of commerce or tourist board to sponsor or have a company presence at such events. This can boost your off-season consumer engagement as well as boost your reputation by showing your commitment to community connections. Utilizing your staff in charitable projects when they are less busy can also be a great way to strengthen your company’s profile.
Diversify Your Service Channels
Slow seasons are often an unavoidable reality of business. When you’re committed to a single type of product or service, your core consumer base will occasionally be less active. Another way to navigate this issue is by making certain a wider range of consumers can easily engage with your business. Diversifying your service channels should be a serious consideration.
Omnichannel sales and customer service are among the key demands for most demographics at the moment. They want to interact with companies at their convenience without any lag in the quality of attention they receive. Not all businesses — even in the c-suite — have managed to achieve this yet. By adjusting your business plan to engage seamlessly with a range of in-person and online platforms, you may be able to capture more of the market during the off-season.
Let’s face it, making certain you have user-friendly online platforms also opens you up to more consumers from across the world. If your company is primarily online, introducing some form of in-person service can be wise, too. This could be seasonal pop-up stores or booths at events. It can also be worth considering creating a dedicated platform to offer business-to-business (B2B) sales so you can engage with previous untapped commercial demographics.
Having a business that is constantly operating at peak demand is something few CEOs can achieve. The reality is that there are occasionally going to be periods of low engagement. This doesn’t mean you’re entirely powerless to respond, though. It’s important to strategize a range of measures to mitigate the impact of the off-season. This could include everything from designing new seasonal products to establishing mutually beneficial new partnerships. By effectively reviewing the nuanced needs and challenges of your company, you can make adjustments that not only keep your business profitable but also give you a competitive edge.