Seasonal businesses are everywhere – from recreational centres and snow removal companies to summer camps and ice cream shops. Some will choose to remain open throughout the year, while others will close during the slow seasons. While spring is awakening on the Canadian West Coast with Vancouver seeing its first tulips and an increase in temperature, May is around the corner for Toronto and Montreal to enjoy the beginning of the season. Now is a good time to start thinking about your seasonal offerings to stay on top and be ready when customers and tourists rush to your door.
If you are wondering how to get the most profitable outcome during the busy months, here are some operational tips to help you plan a successful season.
Although your customers may not be thinking about their summer wardrobe yet, as a business owner, you must step ahead and anticipate the consumer demand based on seasonality. Don’t wait for the busy season to think about the different opportunities you could take advantage of. Think about the right products that fit your business and your clientele. Consider innovative concepts and new flavours that your customers are looking for. Industry trends for 2013 have predicted that the year will be a great opportunity for businesses to jump on innovative products because of customers’ eagerness to try new things. CRFA’s 2013 Chef Survey just revealed that variety will be the trend in Canadian restaurants this year with an eclectic mix of sustainability, street food and Greek yogurt. Treats on the go, drinkable desserts and ethnic flavours will also rule the dessert world over the next few months. In a Canadian Pizza article entitled “How to Engineer Your Offerings for Maximum Profits,” author Michelle Brisebois explains how your product offering can make all the difference regarding profitability. Think about incorporating products that are adapted to special diets such as dairy-free, low-fat, sugar-free or Halal for instance. According to Brisebois and Health Canada and Porthmouth University, 2%-5% of Canadians have food allergies or intolerances, and between 7%-20% believe they do. Including various options can allow businesses to retain customers with dietary restrictions. Remember to take into consideration your target and its taste. Today, ethnic flavours are being developed to satisfy a variety of cultures, such as green tea which is a beloved flavour of Asian populations. Also, since sustainability is gaining more and more attention, look for green solutions. Most distributors now offer sustainable serveware options to respond to the changing market. You know your customers better than anyone and you should be able to predict what will work in your store. Choose a selection of products that will encourage your clients to try new things and increase their average spend. Specialties and seasonal flavours are highly recommended. The favourite classics need to remain – vanilla, chocolate, butter pecan, strawberry and Neapolitan, which are the most popular flavours according to International Ice Cream Association. Flavours such as Salted Caramel and Crema Mascarpone are also to keep in mind, and including fresh fruity and comforting creamy choices is also a must. Some products will work better at certain times of the year depending on seasonal weather and cyclical markets. Catering a wide variety of products and flavours is an essential winning formula that will encourage your customers to indulge in take home treats as well.
Seasonal marketing can bring valuable outcomes to your business as it encourages people to buy more. During this time, consumer spending naturally increases in the weeks leading up to changing seasons and the holidays. There is always excitement in the air and consumers find reasons to buy and go out, whether it is to celebrate the end of the chill in the air or school vacation. The idea is to pick out themes for the year. Look up the calendar and decide on holidays to highlight. Find historical dates, famous anniversaries and events that relate to the industry to create special occaions and plan special offerings and promotions around it. Increased consumption is also due to the fact that seasonal marketing conveys a sense of urgency – promotions and special offers for the season won’t last long. This gives consumers a good reason to buy now. Seasons, traditions and historical event appeal to our customers’ emotions that lead to a special buying pattern. Successful seasonal marketing will heavily rely on your ability to get the word out. Word of mouth, social media or advertising will support your marketing efforts, and the first two are free!
If your store counts on the high season and tourist crowd, you should start considering your workforce now. Summer hires allow small businesses to maximize their revenue. For some of these workers, it will be their first time working in a different environment and training sessions will be required. Therefore, you will need to schedule any classes, online tutorials and time to train*. Also, to encourage teamwork, create an opportunity for all the employees to meet and mingle.
*Check out PreGel’s classes and online tutorials on The PreGel Channel.
Participating in local events and festivals is a great opportunity to promote your brand and to introduce it to new and potential customers. Look up a local fair that fits your business and is known for being successful. Partnership is another alternative to reach out to a broader market. Reach out to your local tourism offices or restaurants and others associations who will be targeting tourists as well. You can find information about upcoming events in your community at your local Chamber of Commerce or in a local newspaper. You can also host your own event focusing on a special holiday or theme, which is very common for restaurants and stores.
Keep in Touch
Even if your business is seasonal, it is important to stay in contact with your customers all year long. By creating a database and capturing their emails (sign-up incentives, surveys and so on) you will be able to give them some updates and to encourage them to come back. Once again, using the social media can be an easy and cheap way to stay connected.
3…2…1… Get Ready Checklist!
- Inventory your product and ingredient needs to determine what you need
- Learn about the trends for 2013 and determine what you will apply or what new trend you will launch
- Survey your market to find what products are of interest at different times of the year
- Research local events, festivals and partnerships you could get involved into
- Plan marketing promotions
- Think of ways to establish a customer database to stay connected
- Hire and train busy season employees
While it is time to get ready, keep in mind your customers’ preferences and needs, and look around to see what the industry is doing to make sure that you won’t miss the opportunity to shine this summer!