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For some businesses the summer can offer well needed downtime, allowing entrepreneurs to take stock and plan for the rest of the year. However, 2016 offers some unique opportunities and issues that business owners need to be aware of to make sure they are fighting fit for the remainder of the year.

Sporting events

With standout events like Euro 2016 and the Olympics, supported by yearly tournaments, such as Wimbledon, this summer offers an unprecedented opportunity to get customers through your doors.

To maximise your profits, your business should piggyback off these events, using a variety of tactics such as holding themed events, offering special deals and promotional tie-ins. Outside of your balance sheet, these initiatives will also help to raise your firm’s visibility. Also, don’t be afraid of using your social media channels to promote your activities based around these sporting events.

As always, putting the customer first is critical but this can be done in significant, but small, cost-effective ways. For example, if you are a venue venue showing a late evening game from Euro 2016, consider making taxi numbers or late night public transport information readily available to your customers.

National Living Wage

With the National Living Wage increasing as of April, businesses will need to factor in this significant, additional operating cost, during what will be a particular busy summer.

Some industries will be affected more than others, for example, employers within the hospitality sector will especially need to factor this cost into their business. Meanwhile, to deal with spikes in demand caused by the plethora of upcoming sporting events, firms will undoubtedly rely heavily on flexible, short-term employees. For some businesses the combination of the two issues might appear to be a huge headache, however, it need not be.

Planning well ahead of time will relieve a lot of the pressure from a staff resourcing perspective. Bring in temporary, flexible staff during peak days, such as England games and during off peak times minimise your staff numbers as much as possible, without affecting customer service of course.

The British weather and its effect on consumers

While the British weather can undoubtedly be unpredictable, if it is bad, it has been proven to actually have a negative effect on sales, especially during the summer.

While businesses have no control over the weather, this year is quite different as the UK’s climate will go hand-in-hand with the top tier sporting events on offer. If this summer is a washout, then businesses need not fear as they are still in for a profitable summer due to these marquee sporting events. However, if the sun is beaming for the majority of the summer months, UK SMEs are undoubtedly in for a bumper season.

Accounting for staff holidays

Staff will inevitably want to take time off during the summer, but your service can’t be allowed to suffer as a result. Again, planning is critical to keeping your business ticking over. Having temporary staff or a company that gives you access to such staff will be critical to filling any upcoming gaps you might have. As mentioned above, knowing when you’ll need as many staff as possible will allow you to plan accurately to deal with peaks in customer demand.

Zero hour contracts

In light of the recent exposé of Sports Direct’s zero hour contracts and the furore it has caused, many are now questioning these working arrangements. Firstly, your business’ reputation can be very negatively affected by offering such contracts, especially during a time when you are likely to need many temporary staff this summer. Not only this, due to the scant protections they offer, staff morale will likely be quite low as an atmosphere of fear and distrust builds within your company.

By Oli Johnson, Co-Founder, Catapult