Preparing for the off-season

How to position your business for the lull in the age of COVID-19

As a seasonal business owner, having the foresight to prepare for the off-season lull is not an easy task, especially during a pandemic.

According to a McKinsey survey, 1.4 million to 2.1 million American small businesses could close permanently as a result of the disruption from the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic alone. Small businesses across the country are experiencing financial deficits as a result of reduced revenue during the pandemic, and business owners are scrambling to reallocate budgets and manage staffing to survive.

At Dura-Seal, we relied heavily on our knowledge of running a seasonal business to weather the COVID-19 storm. March to October is our busy season, leaving us to strategically manage a budget that includes an influx of cash flow during those months and a decrease during the off-season. We also have to navigate letting go of seasonal employees.

Here are four tips that have allowed us to turn a seasonal business calendar into our strength, rather than a weakness.

Use the off-season to improve

Using the lull to plan and improve your business product or service offerings can help you flourish during the busy season. Evaluating whether the systems and services you are offering are running at their peak could lead to the introduction of new products and services or new locations to operate. We use this time to improve our sealcoat materials, explore ways to expand through acquisitions and upgrade outdated machinery.

Plan for gaps in your budget

Managing cash flow can be difficult for seasonal businesses. An irregular fluctuation of income can very easily catch up to your bottom line, but this can be offset with the proper planning and management. Utilizing sales forecasting to understand the market can help you better predict and account for future expenditures before they appear. Additionally, seasonal business owners should consistently monitor for ways to cut costs during slower times.

Hire the right people

Employee-focused culture is rare in the construction world. In fact, the industry has one of the highest turnover rates of any sector, in part because of seasonal lulls. By prioritizing people, we have been able to lower our turnover rate and build a strong culture that makes for more productive, happier employees that return to us year after year. Recruiting the right workforce from day one can save you the hassle of finding new laborers every six months.

Leverage marketing strategy to remind people you exist

It’s now more imperative than ever for construction companies to be accessible online in this digital age we’ve entered as a result of COVID-19. If competitors are easier to find and communicate with, your business could lose customers quickly. At Dura-Seal, we decided to invest more in our digital marketing efforts, prioritizing items such as Google ads, SEO and paid social to reach our Columbus, Ohio, audience.

While COVID-19 has presented additional challenges to an already challenging business model, seasonal business owners were prepared. Thanks to operating on a seasonal schedule, our industry fared better than some when it came to being agile and resourceful, and we anticipate we’ll continue to handle any new challenges that come our way.

Bob Lester is President and CEO of Dura-Seal