In some ways, running a seasonal business is just like any other undertaking, except that it’s condensed into a tighter time window. In year-round businesses, profits, losses, and expenses are spread wider. With the seasonal approach, one financial mis-step could be much worse, and you may literally have to wait until next year to recover. This means you have to plan carefully, cut costs, and aim to maximize your peak customer influx. The nature of your business matters too.
Just as examples, ski resorts are seasonal, but so are some fruit orchards. Produce-based businesses can be risky, because fruit can go bad and may only be only available once a year. With a ski supplies store, the worst that can happen is you’ll get fewer rentals once the snow melts. Still, food-based businesses are likely to do big business from customers who’ve waited all year for this. Pumpkin sellers in October, for instance. Or fir tree farmers in December.
Managing temporary finance
Because this business is so ephemeral, it almost seems like it’s not worth the effort to invest in credit card machines. But here’s the thing: accepting credit cards isn’t anywhere as expensive as people think. You can actually start accepting credit cards within 24 hours, with no upfront fees. Find a payment processor that doesn’t charge application fees, and that approves new merchant accounts within a day. They’ll get you started with free credit card terminals, free payment apps, free virtual shopping carts, free programming for card acceptance, and free encryption.
And make sure that you find a processor that accepts seasonal businesses and lets you switch off your merchant account during months that you won’t be using it. This is perfect for seasonal businesses, because you don’t pay anything during the off-season.
Understand your merchant tiers
Usually, the cost of processing credit cards is decided by banks, credit card networks, and payment processors. Credit card companies (like Visa and MasterCard) divide customers into levels based on the number of card transactions per year. Each level has its own set of compliance requirements, and the lowest tier – Level 4 – covers businesses with less than 20,000 card transactions a year. Many small businesses are classed there, including seasonal ones, so you can still benefit, even with limited overall opening hours.
For more information on accepting credit card payments for your small seasonal business, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.