Though the profits may be high at certain times of the year, you should consider the various special challenges of running a seasonal business. Here are some tips:
- Prepare for lack of off-season cash flow. Budgeting your income is critical to surviving the slow times.
- Staff appropriately. One of the biggest challenges facing seasonal businesses is finding enough quality employees to meet peak demand. Most job seekers aren't looking for a seasonal job. "Going from a crew of four or five people to a work force of 40 to 50 people overnight requires good recruiting skills," says Michael, who grew up in the restaurant business. "You need to be outgoing and know a lot of people."
The good news is, once they do hire core groups of workers for a holiday rush, many seasonal business owners find those same workers return each year. Says Whitten, "[Our stores] often hire high school or college kids home on break."
- Keep the energy level high. "You have to be adaptable to run a seasonal business that does such a high percentage of its annual sales in such a short amount of time," says Michael, who's on call 24 hours a day from 10 days before Thanksgiving to a couple days before Christmas.
- Be prepared and organized. Seasonal franchisees promote their businesses throughout the year and begin preparing for the holiday season long before it actually starts. "On rainy summer days when landscaping is impossible, I have my crew inventory and string Christmas lights," says Place. "That preparation may seem strange in the middle of August, but it really helps us get off to a running start in October when the season begins."