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The Small Business Owners Guide to Dealing With Peak Season

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As any small business owner will tell you, one of the secrets to running a successful company is knowing when your business will be at its peak during the year – and making sure that you are fully prepared. Careful planning for increased activity periods can be one of the best tools in your arsenal when it comes to making sure you can take advantage of the uptick in demand at certain times.

Identifying your peak season

For many businesses, particularly those in the retail industry, peak season will often occur during the winter months when customers generally spend more money in the run up to the Christmas period. However, peak season will, of course, partially depend on what products a business stocks. Obviously, a business that stocks outdoor products such as camping goods or gardening equipment, is more likely to have its peak season in the summer.

With peak season in mind, it is important to make sure that you order or produce sufficient stock or products to cope with demand; and that you have the staff to deal with that demand. Checking last year’s sales figures is a good place to start as it will give you an indication of how much stock you might need. Or that’s the theory, at least.

Clearly though, there could be external factors that impact your business. In the current cost-of-living crisis, for instance, it is likely that all businesses will be impacted – most negatively – as consumers reign in spending. Add to that the energy cost increases for both consumers and businesses, plus rapidly rising inflation, and the immediate horizon for some small businesses is bleak. But it is perhaps even more essential, in these tough economic times, that your company doesn’t lose out on any potential revenue.

So let’s look at how to be better prepared to cope with peak season 

Clearing the shelves

For some businesses there are certain times in the year when more space is needed on the shelves, whether that’s in a warehouse, storage area or retail area, in order to be able to stock seasonal goods whilst at the same time still continuing to stock products customers expect. You will probably need to consider reducing the amount of regular stock on the shelves in order to make the necessary space for seasonal goods (without impacting availability of standard items).

Of course, if your business premises are small and on-site storage is limited this can cause an issue, but many businesses use an alternative form of self-storage or “smart storage” that includes collection and delivery to easily store away out-of-season items and quickly have other items delivered back to your premises. Smart storage from operators like Storing are significantly cheaper than traditional self-storage and massively cheaper than renting a warehouse or expanding existing premises. They have a useful storage price comparison chart that shows typical price differences.

Extra Equipment

There are some businesses for whom the peak season means a significant increase in the number of members of staff they need. In order to accommodate extra members of staff you may need more office furniture, equipment, uniforms etc. These may be items that you do not need during the rest of the year. Storing these off-site is often the most appropriate things to do, especially in a city centre office where space is in short supply and offices with good storage come at a very high price. If you can find a smart storage facility that can offer collection and delivery as well as storage for your extra furniture such as Clutter or MakeSpace, and arrange it all for you, then this could prove to be hugely time-saving and, therefore, cost effective.

Flexibility

One of the key aspects of running a successful business is flexibility to anticipated change – like the seasons – but, even more importantly, to unexpected change such as the external factors just mentioned; the national and/or international economy and political tensions. Small business mentors often advise founders and CEOs that business success, in fact, is all about flexibility. Being flexible to changing circumstances enables businesses to thrive. Being inflexible is an imminent death knell.

Hopefully, previous planning for seasonal variations in business will have prepared you well for the unprecedented external changes we are all experiencing right now.

Published: September 29, 2022
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Michelle Symonds

Michelle Symonds spent many years in the oil industry and investment banking, designing and building software applications and websites, then later managing complex global IT projects. In 2009 she started a consultancy specialising in SEO to use her tech skills in the rapidly growing field of digital marketing, and so Ditto Digital was born. Ditto Digital devises and implements SEO campaigns based on in-depth data analysis and are very pro-active and flexible to adapt to changing requirements or external influences. Their top-level digital marketing services have enabled small companies to successfully compete with major brands in the online space. Find out more at DittoDigital or connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.

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