With the holiday season quickly approaching, businesses are gearing up for the busiest shopping months of the year. Seasonal hiring is in full force and people are adding final notes to their holiday shopping lists. ’Tis the season where some businesses do the majority of their sales for the year.
Entrepreneur reports American consumers collectively spend more than an estimated $600 billion during the holiday season and holiday hires account for an estimated half of the total new hires for the entire fourth quarter. This seasonal shift can present unique challenges and considerations for seasonal businesses during the “off-season.”
Here are four tips to help seasonal businesses transition seamlessly from downtime to boom time and back again.
Keep an eye on inventory. As a business owner, it is important to effectively manage your supply based on actual demand cycles. Intuit reports inventory management can prove to either be fruitful or disastrous. Compare year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter numbers to identify patterns. Some experts even suggest real-time sales analysis to keep a finger on the pulse of changing activity. Apply a little high school math to those numbers and determine season-to-season needs.
Have a staffing plan. Hiring can be tricky for businesses that see seasonal shifts in activity. Large retailers have zeroed in on how to secure seasonal workers, but smaller businesses may have more difficulty finding the right staff. According to Monster jobs site, employers that select dependable workers who are likely to return after another season can streamline next year’s hiring. They can also tag potential permanent hires early, keep a close tab on their performance, and evaluate their fitness for full-time employment.
Consider opening a line of credit. Businesses may benefit financially and strategically from establishing a line of credit. Bloomberg reports many businesses use a line of credit, but notes this could be particularly strategic for smaller, seasonal businesses that rely on credit for brief, lean periods. For instance, a line of credit could help bridge a cash flow gap that may otherwise mean hiring less staff.
Diversify. Experts suggest businesses with clear-cut off-seasons should diversify to remain profitable during slower months. To cite a few examples, golf courses could open their clubhouses for special events in the winter, and hotels with high seasons in the winter and fall may offer special staycation packages for locals during the spring and summer. The main idea being that businesses need to find ways to earn year-round.
While experts also suggest business owners use the off-season to plan for the busy months, it is critical from a revenue standpoint to minimize the slow period and extend the busy season as much as possible.
(Editor’s Note: Rene Almazan
is a senior vice president for Vantage West Credit Union, a $1.6-billion financial institution in Arizona, which serves a growing membership of more than 140,000 via branches across Arizona and online channels, as well. Vantage West offers consumer and business banking services, and is federally insured by NCUA.