Down to Business: Grow Your Seasonal Business

family-freezed-ice-cream-bicycle-icicle-tricycles-ice-cream-cart-006-e1446849683144-632x597Let’s talk about seasonal businesses for a moment. If you take a drive south on Route 35 from Point Pleasant Beach through Seaside Heights, you’ll see in high definition the impact of a season.  In a matter of one month, the Jersey Shore will turn from an eerie ghost town into a bustling, crowded resort.  Blinking lights turn to stoplights, and you actually have to pay the parking meter – that is, if you can find a spot.  Lifeguards are on duty, you have to pay to walk on the beach, you can only surf in a roped-off, one block area and fishing is restricted to off hours – ay yi yi!

Seasons can be almost anything: there is football season, car buying season, rainy season, hockey season, dry season, holiday season, boating season, fluke season, hunting season, tax season, hurricane season, Lent is a season…we could go on and on and on.  What further complicates this idea is geography.  Different seasons begin and end on different dates all over the world.  How do you keep track, let alone run a business within a season?

The most successful entrepreneurs are able to support two alternating seasons, but can you?  For example, a man runs a successful parasailing business on the Jersey Shore from May-August, but Puerto Rico’s tourism season runs from October-March, so the parasailing operator sets up shop down in the Caribbean – while old man winter has the northeast in a deep freeze.  Similarly, the landscaper from March-October equips his trucks with snow removal gear for November-February, it’s a win-win.  The key is finding balance to turn the off season into a busy season.

These ideal, perfectly balanced business models are very difficult to find, especially for a new entrepreneur.  If you are a new business starting out, or even an existing seasonal business searching for balance, First Financial is here to help!  Our Business Accounts do not have a minimum balance or monthly fees, so when you are carrying thinner balances during the slower months, you won’t have to pay for it.  You can spend less time worrying about bank fees and more time searching for that winter gig to compliment your seasonal summer business! Let us help you expand and get your off-season business plan in tact – contact us by emailing today.

ROI in Your Business

Now that you’ve mapped out your marketing plan, you need to figure out what worked and what didn’t, in terms of attracting customers to your business. It’s important to determine which funds are being spent the right way in order to make sure you get as much return on your marketing investment as possible. There are a few ways you can do this, which we’ve outlined below. Be sure to take the time to do the research to determine your ROI, allowing you to tweak your marketing methods to maximize your presence in your target demographic.

The first and least expensive way is to survey your customers to find out how they learned about your business. When you are meeting with your customers, or when they are at the register, just simply ask “How did you hear about us?”  There are also other methods, such as web sites and software that allow you to survey those who go to your website. An example is Survey Monkey, a low cost online survey program which enables you to select the best plan for your business based on the number of online surveys you might want to send out over the course of a year.  Some of these methods do cost money, but can easily help you determine how effective your campaigns are.

Additional, inexpensive ways include:

  • Video monitoring and clipping services to determine TV viewerships
  • Setting up special web pages that are for the specific purpose of radio ad promotions so that you know which customers came from your radio listenership
  • Setting up Google analytics for your website
  • Setting up Facebook Insights for business or fan pages
  • Using Twitter to see how many followers you have and how interactive you are

Be sure to maintain a positive viewpoint along the way. This is a learning process and it may take a bit of tweaking to get your ROI just right. Try to think of ROI in other ways instead of the definitive “Return on Investment,” such as:

  • Re-Organizing Identity
  • Releasing of Information
  • Recognizing our Industry
  • Realizing obtainable income
  • Retiring old itinerary
  • Rewarding our interests

Soon enough, you’ll be on the path to your perfect ROI marketing equation.
Share your personal definition of ROI that you came up with by leaving a comment!

Have a question about business planning, products, or services? Contact Business Development or leave a comment below.

Cash Flow Options for Business

This is a good time of year to examine your cash flow. Even if your sales are good, you still have to make sure the money is actually coming in on the schedule you need to meet your expenses and, hopefully, build up cash reserves.

If your cash flow could use a boost – and let’s face it, you would have lots of company – First Financial has several options you might want to consider. One is a line of credit. A very helpful option that’s there when you need it, many businesses access lines of credit to stem the effects of slow receivables or other short-term cash flow issues.

Personal credit is also an option for many business owners. You will need three years’ worth of both business and personal tax returns, and lenders will definitely take a keen interest in your business plan – since that tells a lot about how prepared you are to maintain business success and put yourself in a position to make your payments.

The good news here is that credit unions don’t simply pass judgment on your business plan. We help you with it. Our members are our owners, and we’re here to help make them more successful. So if we see issues with your business plan, our priority is to help address them so you can be more successful.

If you have a commercial mortgage, you might also consider refinancing it at today’s relatively low interest rates as a way of freeing up some capital on a month-to-month basis. That could make the difference in your ability to make crucial capital investments – perhaps an important piece of equipment or a technology upgrade that will allow you to win or successfully execute an opportunity for growth.

As the economy rebounds, many companies have a need to make fresh investments in employees, products and technology. Often, the state of your cash flow determines whether you can make these investments or will have to hold off. Talk to us about customized lending solutions that will allow you to shore up your cash flow and strengthen your business. We’re here to support your success!  Contact Business Development at