Many businesses rely on the holiday season for the bulk of their revenue. But if the holidays are your slow season, you likely face challenges in managing your business finances. Read on for some strategies to keep your business in the black during your off-season.
Accommodate Fixed Expenses
Although the holidays may be the off-season for your business, there is no holiday break from basic expenses like property taxes or rent, utilities, insurance, taxes, and salaries for year-round staff. It’s important to generate an accurate projected cash flow. This way, you can put a plan in place for covering fixed expenses well in advance of the holiday season. At the same time, you should try to minimize expenses as much as possible.
Generate Alternative Revenue Streams
With a bit of creative thinking, it may be possible to generate at least some revenue during the holidays. For instance, an eating establishment that caters to summer vacationers could offer catering for holiday dinners. Garden centers could provide greenery for holiday decorations, or centerpieces for holiday parties. Renting out equipment or inventory may also be a way to generate revenue.
Stay in Touch with Customers and Clients
The holidays represent an ideal opportunity to reach out to customers and clients, while keeping your company on their radar for the upcoming high season. Posting holiday messages on social media allows your company to maintain its profile with minimal investment of time and money. If your business shuts down during the holidays, send out holiday cards or email messages that include a reminder of your re-opening date.
Retain Year-Round and Seasonal Workers
Your company may rely on a large proportion of seasonal staff. However, you probably retain at least some employees year-round. If so, you may need to take a creative approach to minimize turnover. Consider expanding job descriptions to ensure that top-notch employees are sufficiently engaged and busy during the holiday slow season.
If your business shuts down completely during the holiday season, at least some of your permanent employees may pursue seasonal holiday jobs to generate extra income. While some companies attempt to prohibit workers from taking second jobs, a seasonal company that implements such a stringent policy may make it difficult to retain workers.
A smarter strategy is to develop a policy for allowing employees to hold second jobs, with relevant regulations in place to ensure productivity isn’t adversely impacted and that workers aren’t taking positions that represent a conflict of interest or using company resources (such as a company car) on their second jobs.
Retaining seasonal workers year after year also boosts the bottom line by minimizing the need for recruiting and training new workers. Reach out to seasonal staff with holiday greetings and a small gift, along with an invitation to rejoin the company during the next busy season.
Prepare for Financial Transaction Delays
The holiday off-season may impact the financial transactions as well. Transactions like bank deposits typically do not post on weekends, or on Federal holidays. Functions such as ACH payments and payment processing through the Federal Reserve Bank are also unavailable on federal holidays. If a federal holiday falls on a weekend, some Federal Reserve offices may be closed on the weekday preceding or following.
As a result, it is necessary to allow extra time to ensure that critical transactions are executed in a timely manner. Fortunately, some online lenders like OnDeck offer Instant Funding for line of credit withdrawals (available even when banks are closed), so that you can get funds as soon as you need them.
Have Extra Cash on Hand for Your Slow Season
Even with careful planning, you’ll likely still experience financial gaps during your slow season. Cutting expenses and expanding revenue streams can help, but that may not be enough to allow your company to maintain operations through a slow period.
If you know your business has a slow season every year, try to set aside the extra cash you make during your busy season to carry you through the off season. It can be difficult to have the discipline to put money aside when business is good, but you’ll be glad you did in the long run.
Establishing a line of credit before your slow season is another way you can make sure you have cash when you need it. This way, you can cover operating expenses, pay bills, or deal with any emergencies (i.e., a piece of equipment breaks). The key is to ensure that you have the cash flow necessary to pay back any withdrawals to the line of credit.
Looking for more tips on how to manage your finances during your slow season? Check out “Stay Cash Flow Positive Through Your Slow Season.”