Here in Southwest Florida, we have a very unique business climate, but our lessons about seasonality in the business market translate to just about anywhere that sees a seasonal fluctuation.
Our area is known as a fantastic place to retire and also as a family-friendly vacation spot, so throughout the year our local businesses see a fairly regular fluctuation in the amount of business they do month to month. Our beautiful wintertime weather means that from October to April our population swells as retirees from the northern states come down to ride out the bad weather in our sunshine.
You can blatantly see this fluctuation if you visit at different times of the year. For instance, going to dinner on a Saturday night during “season” (October to April) means a 2-3 hour wait, go to the same restaurant in July and you will likely be one of only two tables in the whole place.
What does this mean if you are thinking of buying a business in this area (or in any area with seasonal fluctuation)?
It means you will need to be a bit open-minded when looking at the numbers, and compare multiple years of numbers instead of looking at only the last several months. In a place without much seasonal fluctuation the most recent numbers may be sufficient, but in our area or any like it – recent numbers won’t tell you the whole story. For instance, if you are looking at buying a business April, then the numbers from January to April will not be a reflection of the next handful of months in the summer. Likewise, if you are considering a business in September, abysmal numbers here might mean the business is doing just fine – you are only looking at the very slow summer months.
How do you figure out how to navigate these types of fluctuations? Find a knowledgeable and experienced local business broker who can help you to understand the seasonal fluctuations and can assist you with determining if a business is dealing with a seasonal slump or is in real trouble overall.
Another major seasonal business consideration? Keeping some cash on hand. If you are buying a business in Southwest Florida in the spring, then you had better find out how much capital the sellers have needed in previous years to weather the sparse summer and save some money for getting yourself through the lean times. Once business picks up and then explodes in the fall, you will also need to know what staffing considerations you will have to address (like bringing on new staff or bringing back the former owner’s seasonal workers).
Your business broker will be invaluable in helping you ask these pivotal questions of the sellers while you are in the negotiating process, and will also ensure you have a proper training period with the former owners post-sale to cover all of the bases.
Do you have more questions about how to look at the numbers of seasonal businesses? Would you like to know what types of seasonal businesses are for sale in this area? Ask us! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions here and we will be happy to help.
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907