Spring break is just around the corner, and that means more than half of people between 18 and 34 flock to locations near and far to catch some much-needed rays or break from life’s stressors. For small businesses, spring break can be a challenging time of year – though the nature of those challenges can vary.
For some business owners, this means a welcome uptick in revenue and traffic; for others, it can mean a notably slower time of year. As such, preparation can be drastically different, depending on the type and location of your business.
Today, however, we’ll offer some ways you can use spring break to your advantage as well as how to prep for the season, regardless of where your business is located.
Using Spring Break to Your Advantage
Regardless of what “spring break” looks like to your company, it’s worth leveraging it to your advantage.
If you typically experience a serious increase in traffic during spring break, the primary way to take advantage of to spread the word about your business and what is has to offer travelers.
- What are you known best for?
- What sets your business apart from the competition?
- What offers, deals, and discounts can you extend to get and keep consumers in the door?
Once you determine why customers should put your business in their line of sight, you’ll need to get the word out, and there are numerous ways you can do that.
Host a special event: A special event, when done properly, can help you create a solid buzz in the spring break community. A themed night, music event, or even a VIP sale, give spring breakers, whether they’re enjoying the sun or staying local, a reason to visit your establishment.
Engage in social media: Since the primary demographic is 18 to 34-year olds, this often means leveraging social media platforms, like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. That’s true whether you’re spreading the buzz about a special event or just cluing them into why and when they should visit your business.
Keep in mind that social media efforts don’t have to cease once you get visitors through the door. Encouraging active engagement while they’re on-premise can help spread the word and get even more customers through the door.
Consider cross-marketing: However, there’s are also marketing methods that can be equally if not more successful. Partnering with local businesses to co-brand offers. For example, a local eatery may want to partner with a boutique hotel or retailer to cross-pollinate and increase audience awareness.
Prepping for Spring Break
Regardless of how you plan to take advantage of spring break, the key to a successful one, at least in many cases, is to be prepared. Here are some tips that can help you, whether if means business is booming or it slows.
If Business Will be Booming…
If your business is situated in a tourist town prone to break celebrations, then preparation is all about planning for increased traffic and revenue. These steps can help ensure it’s as lucrative and stress-free as possible. If, however, your business typically slows down, you can skip down to the next section.
- Review Your Records: Spring break happens every year, and so can likely consult past performance metrics to determine what you may expect, this includes inventory demands and staffing concerns.
If this is your first spring break, then you may want to consider chatting with local business owners. In many cases, they can offer valuable insight into what to expect and how to prepare for the next couple of weeks.
- Staff Appropriately: Since spring break represents a predictable increase in traffic, staffing concerns can be addressed well in advance. Typically, you’ll have two options when it comes to staffing: over time and seasonal help.
If you plan on extending overtime to employees, make it a point to consult the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and maintain compliance with all federal and state overtime laws.
If your solution is hiring seasonal staffing, then it’s time to consider things like your budget, job descriptions, and training needs. And, since spring break quickly leads to summer vacation, you may also want to consider how your spring break efforts can bolster your summer staffing needs.
- Audit Your Inventory: An increase in traffic will likely yield an increased demand for certain products and services. Whether you’re a retail store or a purveyor of perishable goods, like a restaurant or pub, running low can lead to customer service issues, poor reviews, and decreased revenue.
Check your inventory against your projections to make sure you’re ready to properly meet customer needs.
- Check your finances: A busy season, whether it’s spring break or a holiday rush, typically leads to an increase in revenue. However, in some cases, preparation efforts can lead you strapped for cash.
There are numerous ways to manage cash flow issues, but the key is to recognize the need in advance. Doing so will give you more time to review your options, and if it comes to a short term loan or line of credit, finding the best rates and terms available.
IF Spring Break means a slowdown…
If your business is more likely to slow down during spring break, preparing takes on a whole new meaning. This is particularly true when it comes to managing staff vacation requests and dealing with a potential revenue decrease. For that reason, it’s important to prepare for break, even if you don’t get to revel in the fun.
- Make time off policies clear: Small businesses that employ the prime spring break demographic (18 to 34-year olds) may find that scheduling becomes quite difficult come spring.
That problem can become even more significant if your business is in a town where college students make up a significant portion of the revolving population and therefore local retail, hospitality, etc. workforce.
One major reason for this, as you likely assumed, is time-off requests, which often come in droves in the days and weeks leading up to spring break. And unfortunately, it’s not always possible to grant all those requests
To alleviate some of this burden, it’s helpful to have a well-written and strictly followed time-off policy that particularly addresses times that are notably filled with vacation requests, like spring break, Christmas, Independence Day, etc.
In addition, it’s also beneficial to encourage or require employees to review the document in the weeks leading up to prime vacation days so that everyone is on the same page.
- Cross-train employees: With increased time-off requests, you may find that you’re missing key members of your team. However, cross-training employees can make it easier to deal with a staffing shortage, both now and in the future.
- Monitor cash flow: A spring break slow down can lead to a significant decrease in traffic and revenue, and that may leave you vulnerable to momentary dips in cash flow. Unfortunately, even temporary dips in revenue can make it difficult to manage operational costs.
- Don’t forget the 48% of spring breakers who stay behind: While more than half of 18 to 34-year-olds do plan on traveling, there is still a significant portion that don’t. To you, that should represent an audience base that you can cater too, whether that’s by offering relaxation, a fun night, or some retail therapy.
Spring break is an age-old tradition, but it doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone, and that’s certainly true of small business owners. Regardless of where your business is located, Spring break can present unique challenges and opportunities. My taking advantage of this exuberant time of year and preparing appropriately, you can make it an enjoyable, or at least tolerable, time of year.
This article was originally written on March 8, 2019 and updated on February 1, 2021.