Are you in a seasonal business? Or do you know where your natural peaks and troughs are? With this knowledge you can make a plan to increase sales and move your business to the next level.
It might be that you are a wedding photographer or a landscape gardener with a flood of business in summer months. Even if it isn’t obvious, tracking income monthly will highlight patterns of quieter months you may not even be aware of. My recent blog on budgeting will help with this process.
What to do about those quiet months? The answer is to diversify.
Managing cash flow
With very seasonal businesses such as the wedding industry, managing cash flow through the year can be troublesome. The goal should be to break-even each month, allowing profits to be creamed during the peak period.
So this is where diversification comes in. How can you use your skills in other ways to increase sales in the quiet times? Here are some examples to inspire you:
Same product, new market
OK, so who else could be interested in your product? A wedding photographer could easily transfer their skills to provide photography to the business sector. Think corporate head shots or product photography. A client of mine has taken on a regular contract with an estate agent to photograph their new properties. This is a great example of a regular requirement to pick up the slack and keep paying the bills.
A wedding cake baker could also offer cakes for birthdays, Christenings, anniversaries and more to fill up their order book.
If your business isn’t particularly seasonal this concept of exploring new markets can still be applied to increase sales. If you have a local shop front such as an art gallery, why not set up a website or utilise an online marketplace such as Etsy or notonthehighstreet to market your items nation/worldwide?
Same market, new product/price
Another approach is to offer different products to your existing customers. For example, a landscape gardener will be busy in the drier, warmer months. A gardener client of mine has the skills to lay driveways and so promotes this service to the same clients during the winter.
Domestic plumbers on the other hand are busiest in winter, with frozen pipes and broken boilers. So during spring and summer plumbers promote servicing and gas safety checks to fill their order book.
Cake makers are again another great example of offering a new product to the same market (and they peak during the wedding season). More and more bakers now offer cake decorating classes. A local baker from Hagley in Worcesteshire was so successful at this that she stopped baking wedding cakes altogether, opting for the safer and less seasonal teaching service.
New product, new market
Finally, new products to new customers is also an option and isn’t necessarily as hard as it sounds.
For example, a wedding stationer selling invites will have a relatively narrow market of engaged couples. However they could use their creative skills to design and sell other printed items such as birthday cards, posters and so on to a wider audience.
Again, you don’t need to be a seasonal business to consider this strategy. Supermarkets and car manufacturers do it well, selling items such as value foods or budget cars right through to premium ranges of food and high end cars. Having this wide product range gives them access to people in all areas of the market.
With so many examples of diversification out there, I urge you to look outside of your business for inspiration. Think about the businesses near you and ones you use, how do they use their skills to develop additional products or to widen their audience? Looking outside of your comfort zone for ideas could just result in that light bulb moment.
If you’d like help to implement any of my advice, why not contact me to arrange a Free Business Review? This is a genuinely free 2 hour session whereby I’ll come into the business and spend two hours giving you advice to make positive changes. Click here to arrange yours now.
Have a great month!