While many businesses tend to ebb and flow into different seasons, businesses like beachfront businesses, ski schools, and summer camps have defined seasons when they are open and doing business. Owning a seasonal business that isn’t operational all year long requires a business owner to be skilled at budgeting, great at hiring and training people, and especially adept at managing the financial implications of fluctuating cash flow.
While there are challenges associated with owning a seasonal business, there are also some advantages. Because employees are hired only for a season, there’s no need to make payroll all year long. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean the need for cash flow entirely disappears; the owners of seasonal businesses know they need to manage their revenues to meet their financial obligations (including paying themselves) throughout the year.
I have a friend who guides at a fishing lodge in Alaska that is only open four months of the year. The lodge generates its annual income during those four months, and all the staff and employees go to Alaska just for the season and return to wherever they’re from to do something else for the remainder of the year.
With the exception of the owners, who take reservations for the next season, maintain the lodge’s website, and prepare for the next year, my friend says no one else gets paid during the off-season—and he likes this arrangement. He earns enough income to support himself throughout the year and is able to pursue other opportunities, such as running a snowmobile touring business in what Alaskan’s call the “Lower 48” during the winter. It works for him.
If you’re going to run a “beachfront” or seasonal business, there are some unique and specific things you need to consider, and some skills you can’t do without. Here are six of them:
You have to hire the right people
Even though there can be challenges associated with hiring seasonal employees, you still need to make sure you hire the right people. I learned a long time ago that you shouldn’t simply hire the best person who shows up to the interview, you need to make sure you hire the right person for the job. This can be particularly challenging when the economy is generally strong, unemployment is low, and seasonal jobs are harder to fill.
That being said, my fishing guide friend is a good example of a highly-skilled employee who returns to the same job season after season. He earns enough during the season to keep the wolves at bay the rest of the year, the lodge has a great atmosphere for him and the other guides, and the tips are good. This might not apply directly to a beachfront store, but there are things you can do to keep the right seasonal employees interested in returning for more than one season—which will make it easier for your business.
In other words, make sure you ask for references, do background checks, and thoroughly vet every potential employee to make sure you’re getting the best employees you possibly can. And, unless they will make incredible employees, avoid the temptation to hire family members or friends simply because you know them and they need a job.
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