Insights and Info

Tips for managing the unique challenges of running a seasonal business

Running a business is hard enough, let alone a seasonal business where a year’s revenue is made in a few intense months. As aptly said by Radius President Bobbi Faulkner, “running a seasonal business is not for the faint of heart.” But, from her experience, there are a few things one can do to manage it successfully.

Preparedness is key. Everything must be in place before the launch of the busy season: systems, processes, supplies, and resources. The hectic in-season is not a time to be rolling out a new system.

Because the nature of the business is often weather dependent, one never quite knows if the season is going to begin a month in advance or later. Tip: create artificial deadlines to ensure everything is ready at the earliest possible time.

Faulkner offers two other tips to help manage through the intense in-season phase:

  • watch for patterns early on; and
  • over-communicate with employees.

Pay close attention to any business or sales patterns–especially early in the season–because chances are they are indicators of something bigger that will be accentuated when the season kicks into high gear. Be acutely aware of what’s working and what isn’t early on.

In-season is busy, and employees are running hard, so especially during this time it’s important to check in with employees to ensure everything is under control and they are not feeling overwhelmed. It’s typically much better for the business to add extra resources than to lose a critical employee mid-season.

At the end of the season everyone is exhausted, but it’s important to finish strong with a comprehensive wrap up. Gather feedback from all employees, even seasonal ones, to understand what worked and what didn’t, where the challenges were and what ideas they have for solving issues. Use this feedback to inform priorities for next year.

Once everyone has had a breather, use the off-season to plan and implement new systems and processes. Then get ready to start all over again.

Additional tips:

  • Be reasonable in terms of what can be accomplished in a season
  • Determine what will have the biggest impact on our business and plan around that
  • Be very disciplined about your timing of implementing anything new and getting it done
  • Have a response plan for when things don’t go according to plan

Radius creates and manages supply networks of seasonal live goods for large retailers. The full interview with President Bobbi Faulkner can be found at Peaks & Valleys – Bobbi Faulkner – MarketMaker Agriculture