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    5 Replies Latest reply on Dec 3, 2009 1:15 PM by redrider

    Seasonal Business - Should we close in the down season?

    krstymeggy Newbie

      Seasonal Business - Should we close in the down season?

      Postby moabsdailygrind on Sun Dec
      Hi, does anyone else operate a coffee business in a small, seasonal town? Our drive-thru has been open 9 months now, and we thought we were prepared for the winter down season, but it's been awful. We have never done extremely high volume, but we were at least turning a small profit which I thought was good for our first year. Last Saturday I sold $9, which was just depressing. So, now we are trying to decide if we should close for the winter season. There is one other drive-thru in town who is better established. As soon as December 1st hit, they radically cut their hours and started closing at 1 pm (they were open until 6). I try to pay attention to what they are doing, because I know they are really clever people.

      I guess what my real question is, is do you think it would upset my local business if I closed for 6 weeks? Would this be detrimental to the growth of my business? My location is good, one that is more convenient for many people than the other drive-thru. However, because we are a seasonal town, many of the businesses close in the winter, including the restaurants.

      When I first started, my goal was to capture enough of the local business to make it through the down-season. However, I did not anticipate that even many of my regulars leave in the winter because the town is so dead.

      We have actually already been closed down a week because our espresso machine broke (another post). But, I spent so much on holiday flavors, christmas baskets, and extra beans, I don't want it all to go to waste. My husband says to just give it to our relatives for gifts this year.

      Please share your advice.
        • Re: Seasonal Business - Should we close in the down season?
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Seasonal Business, Welcome

          Who are you?? Go to Members page and share some MORE info.
          Do you have an accountant?? Have you developed a business plan??
          Tell me more and I will be happy to share some advice.

          Good luck, LUCKIEST
          <!--Session data-->
          • Re: Seasonal Business - Should we close in the down season?
            phanio Pioneer
            This is a purely business decission for you. Suggestion would be this - what is costing your more? If it costs you more to keep the store open then it is to shut it down - then shut it down. If however, by keeping it open you are at least covering your cost - then keep it open. The idea is what is best for you. If it costs $5,000 per month to keep it open and you are making that $5,000 at a minium during the slow period - then it is a net wash. But, if you shut it down and still have costs of say $1,000 and no revenue to cover that - then you are losing $1,000 - no wash here as it is a net loss.

            Another suggestion - what else can you do (during this time) that can generate revenue? Is there something else you can offer locals (non-seasonal people) that they will pay for? This might allow you to keep our doors open and make a little money. Find a new off-season market to serve.

            Business Money Today
            • Re: Seasonal Business - Should we close in the down season?
              vinod1978 Adventurer
              I would only close down the business if you have to pull money out from savings to cover your operational costs. Even though you are a coffee shop are there other services that you could offer? Maybe free internet (if you are not already doing that). If there are not a lot of stores open in the down season then the locals that are still there probably need some additional services. Maybe you could keep some bags of salt and sand and sell it at a slight premium so people don't have to drive out of the way to pick them (or similar products).

              You should be advertising that you are open and the additional services on television so people know you are out there.

              Vinod Tonangi
              • Re: Seasonal Business - Should we close in the down season?



                I recently sold a restaurant that I owned for a number of years in a town that goes quiet during the winter - so I can empathize with your situation.


                I would recommend that you look at alternative hours (shorter days / less days) or offer other products as "phanio" mentioned. Customers are often forgiving if you shut down for a week or possibly even longer if you have marketed that you will be implementing changes during that time. Since you are a newer business, simply shutting down without explanation for 6 weeks puts you at high risk for deteriorating any customer loyalty that you may have built thus far.


                Have you gone out into the community to promote your business? Without knowing size and demographics of your situation, it is hard to give you sound advice. I used our food to market our business. I would take free samples to various businesses to get their attention and perception about our restaurant. At times I would tie in some form of promo - you could give customer loyalty cards.


                Keeping an eye on the competition is an excellent idea, but you can't mimic your competitor and expect the same results. You need to determine how your business is different and market to that uniqueness.


                Hope this helps.


                Doug Dolan


                The Solopreneur's Guide


                • Re: Seasonal Business - Should we close in the down season?
                  redrider Newbie
                  Just a thought but if you decide to close down why not use your holiday inventory as a marketing tool. You could pass out samples of the coffee to local businesses. If your beach town is like mine there are only a couple of major year round employers- perhaps you could provide a give away or have a table there in exchange for your free coffee- banks especially will try to help small local business- hey....why not BofA!!

                  Another thought if you close is to promote your space as available for gatherings or holiday parties- in my area the local moms group (all heavy coffee drinkers!) always try to have events and usually need space to meet- other local groups like your chamber of commerce etc might be good to target for giveaways etc...

                  Good luck with your decision- cant wait for spring....