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How to Find (And Make the Most Of) Your Best-Fit Seasonal Franchise

Seasonal franchise opportunities are a wonderful way to diversify your portfolio. Here’s what you need to know to capitalize on the opportunity.

Seasonal franchises can be a useful pursuit for entrepreneurs seeking a fruitful opportunity without a year-round commitment. By operating during a given peak season, seasonal franchise owners free up other time throughout the year for more relaxation or other business ventures.

Whether you’re looking to supplement revenue during an otherwise slow time of year or ease into entrepreneurship, seasonal franchises can be a profitable venture. Here’s how to choose the right one for you.

Think about Your Preferred “On” Season

The first step in identifying the right seasonal franchise opportunity is to identify the optimal busy season. If you already own a lawn care business that tends to slow down during the colder months, something like a holiday lighting franchise could be a good supplement. Or, if you’re specifically looking for some downtime around the holidays, a business that peaks in the warmer months is a great fit.

“We see the biggest number of seasonal franchises focused on exterior home services, such as lawn care, pest control, BBQ cleaning, pool services and irrigation,” David Busker, founder and principal of FranchiseVision, said. “A good complement to these types of seasonal home services is holiday lighting, which is a highly profitable business and a good bolt-on to other counter-seasonal businesses.”

It’s important to remember that many seasonal franchises don’t go completely dormant during the off-season. Owners need to consistently strategize for business growth, and preparations like marketing and hiring need to ramp up before the busy season kicks off to ensure everything is in place and ready to go when demand picks up.

Consider How Much Fluctuation You’re Comfortable With

The required time commitment and demand from customers don’t always perfectly align in seasonal businesses. While most businesses require some amount of commitment or consideration year-round, there are some businesses that see incredible drops in demand during the off-season whereas others tend to see demand surges during the busy season.

“There are some solid B2B seasonal franchises in parking lot sealing and striping, although [those are] more seasonal in the Northern U.S. and can go year-round in parts of the South,” Busker said.

Similarly, ice cream shops in warmer climates will almost certainly see more demand during the spring and summer, but people don’t necessarily stop eating ice cream in the fall and winter. Alternatively, a pool cleaning business in northern climates will operate almost exclusively during the warmer months as outdoor pools are not being used when there is consistent snow cover on the ground. 

If the idea of continuing to fund a business when there are zero customers makes you uncomfortable, you might consider a seasonal option that can reliably operate year-round with predictable peak seasons.

“Validation is the top strategy for any prospective franchisee trying to get comfortable [with] a franchise investment. Talking candidly with owners in the respective franchise systems and validating their ramp-up times and first-year experience will help you greatly,” Busker said. “Some brands we work with have added complementary service lines so that the seasonality is not as harsh, such as a holiday lighting company offering landscape lighting and event lighting … Most seasonal franchise brands understand the concerns and try to [implement] various strategies for an easier off-season for owners.”

Find Your Ideal Industry

“By definition, seasonal franchises would typically be focused outdoors, so the concentration of options is more on home services rather than retail storefront franchises,” Busker said.

If you are looking to open a seasonal franchise business, your best bet will be to look into home services concepts. However, if you’re open to a business that has a bit more flexibility in its on and off-seasons, and you’re okay with the seasonality of your business not aligning with seasonal shifts of other major industries, there are some additional options.

Children's entertainment concepts like indoor trampoline parks, jungle gyms and painting studios will see peaks in demand in the summer, when kids are out of school, and during other school holidays like spring break and winter break.

Travel, cruise and hotel franchises often see a peak in demand during summer and around major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s.

Moving franchises can count on relatively reliable demand, but families tend to move between April and September to accommodate kids’ school schedules, making for another opportunity with high-demand summers.

Consider Expansion Opportunities

Seasonal franchise businesses lend themselves to strategic growth. Franchisees who choose to capitalize on lower-demand seasons can find additional franchise opportunities to build a robust, diverse portfolio that allows for revenue year-round.

Many franchise brands exist under a parent franchisor that works to create diversification options within its own family of brands like Happinest Brands or The Decor Group

“I've found that the growing number of service brand franchisor service platforms with multiple brand concepts are very attractive to candidates so that if they start with a seasonal concept, they have the ability to expand in a complementary or counter seasonal brand within the larger franchisor system,” Busker said. “If you're looking at a seasonal service concept but want to keep a year-round staff, my advice is to consider larger service brand platforms with multiple concepts, giving you the option to expand into a complementary brand.”

Depending on your goals, it may be worth investigating a multi-brand concept at the start of your journey. Even if you don’t plan to diversify with your initial investment, the forethought to choose a multi-brand franchisor can set you up for success in the long run.

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