As the seasons change, so do our desires. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area to experience this, you know what I’m talking about. The moment that crisp air hits your skin in the fall gets you wired for football season. Beautiful white snowflakes that glisten on the ground have kids jumping at the chance of a snow day. Spring = flowers. Summer = vacations. You get it.
But what about those businesses that only operate during specific seasons?
Bike and Roll DC has been providing guided bike and Segway tours of our nation’s capital since 1999. As you can imagine, their most successful times of year is when Mother Nature is playing nice.
“We’re weather-dependent, so lots of rain or inclement weather means loss of business,” explained Nikki Marks, Business Manager and co-owner.
If you’re in the service or hospitality industry as well, you probably know a feeling similar to this.
But this family-owned business has found ways to remain relevant, even during their “off-season.” Here’s how.
If your small business has no trace of family ties, this principle can still ring true. Just think of your employees as family.
“We know each other and can communicate with each other on a different level. We’re able to anticipate one another’s needs really well and we also have a very similar vision for our company and about its core values,” said Marks, who co-owns Bike and Roll DC with her brother and sister-in-law, Stephen and Janna Marks.
Ensure that you and your employees are all motivated in working towards the same vision. When everyone is on the same page, you’ll be able focus on your bigger goals when you’re not in season.
This concept can (and should) pertain to your customers as well. Staying connected with them like family, as the next section explains, is a great way to stay on their radar and continue to improve relationships no matter the time of year.
For seasonal businesses, social media and digital marketing can be some of your most valuable tools.
“Social media has been one of our most, if not our most, powerful marketing tools. Social media is such a great catalyst to market what we offer—an experience. Through the use of photography and videos, we’re able to show the customer the highlights of what they’ll experience when they take a tour with Bike and Roll. It also is invaluable in terms of helping us get the word out about certain events, promotions, etc. we’re running,” explained Leah Nadeau, Bike and Roll DC’s Marketing Director.
If your customers are online, you’ve got to meet them there. Keep them informed of what you’re doing when not in season and tease things you’re planning for when you are. This is another way to get to know your customers and keep connections strong year-round.
“Social media helps us connect with our customers and prospective customers on a personal level—we get to know them, and they get to know us—like family. It all comes back to family!” said Nadeau.
One would think that giving the same tour of the same city over and over again would be, well, boring. But the tour guides at Bike and Roll DC have a completely opposite attitude.
Bike and Roll DC employs “knowledgeable, professional guides and expertly plan safe and exciting outings that are sure to deliver once-in-a-lifetime experiences for every single rider,” said Nadeau.
She went on to mention that no two tours are alike and each guide will go “off-script” to deliver their own narrative that adds to that unique experience.
By constantly updating your products or services when you’re in your slow season, you’ll ensure you’re on top of industry trends in time for peak season.
Another way to keep things fresh is by staying on top of online reviews. Just because you’re not operating during certain months doesn’t mean people aren’t still thinking about your company.
“In this day and age, customers rely heavily on the reviews and opinions of their peers (on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp) before they make purchasing decisions,” said Nadeau.
It’s true. Do you check out reviews before trying a new restaurant or picking a hotel in an unknown city? I certainly do. No matter if the review is good or bad, you should always respond (carefully of course). Not only does that give you an opportunity to show that you really care about what people are saying, but it also provides you with insight into tweaks you could make to improve your business.
By keeping these ideas in mind, your business will be poised to be successful year-round.
To learn more about Bike and Roll DC and to sign up for a tour, click here.