Winter is often thought of as a slow-down season in the small business world. There’s less foot traffic due to colder weather, less tourism for many parts of the country, and a general stall in spending after the mad rush of the holidays. But there are small business industries that thrive in the colder months of the year! And all businesses can take steps to stay busy. Here’s an in-depth look at the types of small business built to weather the winter season.
#1 – Auto Repair
Winter conditions send cars to the shop for tire changes, general inspection, and upkeep — no one wants to break down on the road with freezing temperatures outside. With harsh road conditions in the winter, car maintenance becomes an essential service for travelers making holiday trips to see families and the everyday commuter who’s just trying to get to work and back safely. This all means the auto repair industry stays busy in the winter.
And there’s more good news for repair shop owners — American millennials (the largest group in the workforce) are buying fewer new cars, which means they’re spending more money on maintaining the performance of the cars. This plus with more commuters on the road due to a low unemployment rate equals cars of all ages getting more use in winter.Bottom Line: So much opportunity makes auto repair and maintenance shops and franchises a top small business for winter.
#2 – Snow Removal Services
When it comes to winter business industries, snow removal seems like an obvious top contender. But what’s important to understand is that there are a lot of ways to include this service in your business model even if your business provides other services during the warmer months. Here are a few examples:
- Landscaping companies can offer sidewalk, patio, and driveway shoveling.
- Roofing and gutter companies might provide snow removal from gutters and roofs to help prevent property damage.
- Auto repair and towing companies can provide special deals to help drivers snowed in due to large snow brims from snowplows.
Bottom Line: The key to adapting your small business for winter is maintaining a sense of creativity and flexibility. Use the skills and services offered by your company in new ways.
#3 – Gyms
Outdoor workouts often become not just uncomfortable but dangerous in the winter. This is why gyms and specialized fitness centers become a booming small business industry when the temperature drops. Standard gyms can find success in the winter by offering incentive programs to help get people in the door or creating community among members with initiatives such as indoor running clubs.
Specialized fitness centers can offer fun indoor alternatives to spring sports such as simulator golf and indoor soccer lessons. For gyms, winter also provides an opportunity to succeed by helping people achieve their fitness-oriented resolutions. They say most people quit their resolutions by January 12th, so get creative to help your clients stay on track — and stay a loyal customer — well into Spring. Consider membership discounts, free or discounted fitness programs, and other incentives to keep your clients coming.Bottom Line: Winter weather and New Year’s Resolutions make winter a hot season for gyms. Focus on methods for keeping your new members coming back.
#4 – Coffee Shops
There’s nothing like a warm drink on a cold day, but that’s just one of the reasons coffee shops are top winter small businesses. Beyond offering cozy shelter and a comforting cup of jo, there many steps coffee shops can take to find even more success in the winter. Here are some ideas for coffee shop owners to implement in the winter:
- Promote fun seasonal flavors and limited time specialty drinks.
- Adjust your food and snack offerings for the winter months to include warm, comforting food or special holiday-themed treats.
- Partner with bakers (or even your customers!) to supply you with holiday baked goods through your shop for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Years, Valentine’s Day, and other fall and winter occasions. Even if you don’t make them in-house, customers are often willing to pay a markup for the convenience and visually appealing treats.
- Offer free wifi and loyalty punch cards to keep students and remote workers as frequent repeat customers.
- Set up a kid’s corner with books and toys so parents facing cabin-fever during snow days have a reason to stop in for coffee and some solace.
- Host community events such as small art shows and makers markets where customers can come purchase locally-made holiday gifts.
Bottom Line: Hot chocolate, pumpkin spice, and peppermint are all iconic seasonal flavors – use them and the cold, dark winter days to make your shop an inviting, interesting place for customers to get away from the winter blahs.
#5 – Sporting Goods Stores
Sporting goods stores can take care of huge seasonal opportunities to help more people comfortably and safely enjoy getting outside. From ski and snowboard equipment for the serious winter enthusiasts to snow shoes and sleds for the hobbyists, there’s a wide range of equipment that sporting goods stores can stock – and a diverse crowd of sports and outdoor enthusiasts to attract.
Just as gyms can benefit from the New Year fitness rush, sporting goods stores can find additional success in the winter by setting up displays or sections in the store specific to home workout equipment, fitness supplements, and workout gear.Bottom Line: With all the winter sports and outdoor opportunities, sporting goods stores can stand out by offering discounts, educational programs, and group activities.
If you’re concerned your business might struggle in the colder months, don’t fear — there are ways to adapt and help your business thrive, even if your business isn’t in top winter industries for small business. Rather than immediately scaling down operations as the temperature drops, think about how you can better service your customers all year long — chances are you’ll likely surprise yourself and your business will be better off.