Owners of a seasonal business face some unique challenges when it comes to maintaining a healthy business. The 'feast or famine' nature of seasonal businesses means cash flow problems, staffing difficulties and paying expenses during times when they aren't being well utilized. So, how can you make your off-season time more productive and rewarding?
Do Year-End Tasks. If you have a business that experiences a busy time at the end or beginning of the year, try changing your accounting periods so that you close your books on a fiscal year cycle instead. This allows you and your accountant to choose the best time to perform all those annual accounting functions and reconciliations, rather than be forced to juggle these while trying to conduct business.
Collect and Pay Money. Use your downtime to work with your accountant to go over all the accounts receivable and make sure you've been paid by all your customers. This is also a good time to ensure that you've paid all your own bills. Renegotiate contracts with business vendors as well.
Review Last Season. Schedule time to assess how the season went for your business and staff. Before the employees leave for the off-season, have a meeting to discuss changes and suggestions, then work on implementing those ideas before next season begins.
Update Marketing. Spend time assessing your marketing materials while things are slow, focusing on customer feedback and changes in your industry. Does your branding need updated? Do current advertising plans still reach your target audience? Can you prepare and engage in some pre-season marketing campaigns before the new season begins?
Look for A New Income Stream. What can you do to offer services during your slow seasons? Some businesses can look to their industry for guidance. For example, painters may hang Christmas lights during winter and landscape businesses often clear snow.
You might need to be a little more creative in searching for alternatives to bring in money. Summer guide businesses may be able to plan outdoor or nature-themed winter activities and focus on corporate clients. Tax preparation companies might look at offering a selection of other accounting services, which not only brings in some revenue but also builds a client base.
Perform Maintenance and Renew Licenses. Schedule anything you can get out of the way during your slow time. This includes licensing and annual inspections. Perform the maintenance of your equipment and replace machinery that isn't up to the task. Go through your inventory and supplies to stock up for busy times.
There are a lot of ways to improve your business during the off-season, and it's important to avoid trying to change or improve everything at once. Pick one area in which you can improve this year and give it your focus. Soon, your business will be humming along all year round, resulting in happier employees, happier customers and a happier you. To learn more about hiring an accountant, visit Don Lamb CPA Inc P.S.