Locals Only Gifts & Goods (Photo Courtesy of Locals Only Gifts & Goods)
This Northshore gift shop features locally produced gifts, artwork, food, and clothing.
The two biggest challenges that many companies face when it comes to seasonal business are staffing and cash flow. When the bulk of revenue comes in during a restricted timeframe, planning and resourcefulness are involved to spread income out enough so that it lasts through the slow season, including reducing spending to just the essentials.
“We must save a portion of our profits to sustain us through the leaner times,” says Danielle Landrum, owner of the Northshore gift shop Locals Only Gifts & Goods. “We also use a portion of our summer-season profits to invest in inventory for the holiday season and a portion of our holiday-season profits to finance our business growth plans for the upcoming year. It takes some planning to make sure that we have what we need during the busier times and that we do not purchase more inventory than we need during the leaner times.”
Tim Andrews, president of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM), agrees. He lists being careful not to spend unearned revenue, as well as having sufficient cash reserves to carry fixed costs through the slow season, as two of his company’s biggest difficulties. “There is a considerable disconnect on the revenue side between sales and when the revenue is earned. We sometimes sell tickets up to six months in advance but ‘earn’ the event revenue when it occurs,” he says.
Many companies also cut back on staff during the off-season. They rely on a skeleton crew of primarily full-time employees and bulk up on seasonal help when business picks up. But for some employees, such fluctuations can mean reduced hours and pay while things are slower. And those employees may also need to be versatile and willing to take on varying roles to fulfill the sometimes-inconsistent needs of a seasonal business.
“Staffing is the most difficult process in our business. As an attraction, our peak seasons are when most folks vacation, and we vacation when most folks work,” says Hugh Morrow, President and CEO of Ruby Falls. “Because of this, we have a sizable cross-trained, part-time and seasonal workforce that can be flexible with their schedules. Cross-training gives our staff the ability to work in multiple operational areas, depending on the season.”