The Golden Days of summer are starting to wind down, Back To School Sales are everywhere, and vacation time is coming to an end. If you are a seasonal business such as an Ice Cream Parlor, Italian Ice Stand, or Concessionaire, use this time wisely before the weather turns colder and sales dry up. Make the most of your business opportunities by following a few smart and simple guidelines.
Consider promoting a Hot Summer Special.
This is a great time to test market a new product without having to invest in a lot of inventory. If it is popular, you can maximize its impact next season with the proper planning and marketing. Did you ever hear of the phrase “Back by Popular Demand”? What a great way to create excitement and spur additional sales not only thru August and September, but for next year as well.
Create a Rewards Program.
There is nothing more wonderful than regular repeat business. Give your customers incentive for patronizing your business over that of the competitors by offering them a Loyalty Program Card. “Buy 6, Get 1 Free”. Every time they purchase, the card is stamped, bringing them closer to free product. It is never too late to start this program. Imagine all of your customers trying to earn their points before the end of the season just for that special freebie!
Use your slow times to plan, brainstorm, and analyze your business strengths and weaknesses.
Here are a few key areas to contemplate while you are waiting for the next customer:
Are you happy with your sales?
Sometimes the stars align, the weather cooperates, you had the hottest products in the area, and all of the extended family members for the local Little Leagues decided to patronize your business all season long instead of your competitor down the street. If you are having a good season, analyze exactly what factors made it such a banner season. If traffic was poor, you need to ask yourself what were you doing wrong. Was it also a bad year for your competitor, or did he gain what you lost because of poor planning with your product mix, pricing, promotion or location?
Do you see areas of improvement in your physical operations?
How many hours of downtime did you have with broken equipment and lack of adequate, quality staffing? If you are open, be sure to LOOK like you are open for business. Is your site grimy, unattractive, poorly lit and poorly signed, and generally unwelcoming to potential customers? Nothing turns off a customer more than dirty, sticky counters and trash billowing out of the trashcans while waiting in line in the dark to order. Make the changes during your off-season and feature a Grand Re-Opening advertising campaign to maximize your impact for next year.
Can you improve your offerings?
Take a look at your product assortment. What makes you so special? If you are selling the exact same thing as every other comparable business, you give the customer no reason to patronize your business over theirs. You have no distinct competitive advantage and customers will not go out of their way to get their products from you versus your competition. Differentiate yourself! Do your research for the latest product and flavor trends. Offer a unique item or product category that your competitors do not have and PROMOTE it excessively. Which leads to the subject of Promotion…
Do you need to promote your business better?
Congratulations, you opened a new business…so did 150,000 other fellow entrepreneurs. Let customers know you exist. Today’s world is composed of competing messaging and the daily avalanche of electronic social and informational mania. 15 years ago it took a minimum of 7 times to make a lasting impression about a product or brand name on a customer. Now that figure is up to a minimum of 11 times. You need to constantly bombard the marketplace with your name, logo, and unique product offerings. Provide a clear, legible business name and logo on colorful, well written advertising vehicles such as posters, flyers, signage, cups, containers, and website. Be sure the sign on your building is easily and quickly read, and is well lit even when the store is closed. Remember to add Hot Summer Specials, Pop-Up Sales Promotions, Buyer Rewards Programs, Sponsorships, and Events to your roster as well.
Budgeting and money management -
Budget yourself and stick with it even when you are having a record sales season. This way, if the bottom drops out you will have a comfortable margin to survive the downturn. Plan for your funds to last over the whole year, especially when you may only be earning real money during a 3 to 6 month season. Put aside extra funds when you have a great season. Use this capitol to reinvest in the business to provide long-term growth.
Do you want to stay in business year-round?
Determine the product offerings you will add to your business to attract and keep off-season customers. Hot chocolate, Ice Cream Cakes, coffee, light lunch fare, or seasonal delights such as Pumpkin or Candy Cane Ice Cream. If you pay rent all year anyway, weigh the costs involved with staying open versus the benefits of maintaining a constant presence in the marketplace and keeping a core of regular customers.
Gil's Wholesale Concession, Ice Cream, Italian Ice & Frozen Dessert Supplies
Gil's stocks a huge selection of concession products such as popcorn kernels, oils, cotton candy floss sugar, snow-cone and caramel apple supplies. Check out our amazing syrup and base flavors to make your own Italian Ice, including a gourmet private label line for unique flavors without the cost of new product development. We also carry a huge selection of waffle & cake cones, rainbow sprinkles, crushed fruit & candy toppings, chocolate & peanut butter syrups, flavored bases, nuts, cherries, spoons and all of the paper products you will ever need to run a successful ice cream, Italian ice, frozen dessert, concession business or event.
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