Warmer weather means something different for every small business. If you’re a landscaping or pool service, this is your busy season. If you’re a restaurant known for your outdoor patio atmosphere, you probably have later hours and more staff to oversee. And if you’re a business that may not have a busy season – like a dog grooming service – or you’re a bit slower when the weather gets warm, you may be looking for a little inspiration as the summer months approach.

Well, you’re in luck. We have some tips to help every type of business make this season the best one yet. 

Adjust your hours

This one may be obvious to you, but days are longer in the summer, meaning people stay out later. There are also a lot of people who have time off in the summer or who have employers who offer “Summer Fridays,” which consist of a shortened workday at the end of the week. Consider extending your hours to meet this shift in many customers' schedules – you can always change them back if you don’t find the additional hours are adding value. On the other hand, if you find you’re slower during warmer months, consider scaling your hours back. Whatever way you’re adjusting, make sure your hours are up to date on your website, social media accounts, Google, Yelp and wherever else is appropriate.

End-of-season bonus

If you’re looking to retain employees throughout your busy season, an end-of-season bonus is a great way to achieve that. Set an agreement at the start of the season that includes requirements like showing up to work on time, calling in within a reasonable time frame when you can’t make it and completing the full season at the company. If employees meet these requirements, consider giving them a monetary bonus at the end of the season. This will not only help you retain your employees throughout the busy period, but it will help create an on-time, hardworking employee throughout each working day. Incentives during the season can help too.

Setting up for summer (in person)

If you’re a business where customers spend time outdoors, how’s your lighting? How about your seating? Would you sit there for more than an hour? Do you have insect-repellent candles to keep the bugs away? Are cobwebs cleared? Are sunny areas shaded? Is there an opportunity to set up cornhole or other interactive experiences that set you apart?

Make sure you’re creating the best summer environments that people can’t get enough of. Utility companies like National Grid have rebates on lighting and other business updates. If you don’t have an outdoor space, summer decorations and signage like outdoor sandwich signs will help generate excitement. It is important to manage the upkeep of your summer environments throughout the season. Consider designating certain employees to oversee these new summer spaces and provide the special care they require.

Setting up for summer (online)

If you have an online presence, ensure it is giving summer vibes. Snowy photos or holiday deals will make your site or socials feel outdated. Make sure your hours reflect the new season and your menu or offerings do too. If you have an outdoor patio, show it in your photos or posts. Having live music a few nights this season? Get that schedule up! Consider using a social media management platform like Sprout Social to build a calendar of social content that you can schedule to post on its own vs doing everything in the moment.

Vacation time

Get vacation requests in early. Consider setting a date where employees need to have vacation time in by. And don’t forget to take vacation time yourself. Vacation overlaps are bound to happen and ensuring someone of senior leadership is present at all times now will save you the headache later.

Treat customers to summer fun

Big businesses are always taking their clients out to sporting events and dinners. There’s no reason small businesses can’t treat their customers too. Consider creating an event at a local park or beach that gives away some of your product as a thank you. This is also a great way to bring in new clients.

Giveaways or contests are another way to get people excited and connected to you. A summer bingo board with business-related challenges to complete? A warm weather goodie basket to win on Instagram? 25% off your staff’s summer picks? Count us in for all of it!

Attract new clients

There are so many opportunities in the summer to reach new customers. Consider setting up a stand at your local farmers market or leaving coupons at park info centers and other summer destinations. People are more inclined to try new things and search for what to do when the weather is warm. Being on city guide pages like Step Out Buffalo and Hello Burlington VT are a great way for new faces to find you. It’s also important to remember many students and teachers are out of session for summer and more tourists will likely be present. What can you do to attract these audiences in particular?

People love summertime. And they generally have more time and are in a better mood, so this is when you should have some fun and try something new for your business. Just think about what people need and great ideas will start to flow. (Remember, you’re a customer too. What do you like in a shopping experience?)

Have and great season, and please, don’t forget the sunblock!