More than just another autumnal article

by NANCY CROLL Contributing Writer
| October 15, 2020 1:00 AM

Oh, how trite. She’s going to write about Fall again, eh? Yes. Move on to the next article if you don’t want to hear about the glories of fall, or read it anyway. You might learn something!

The festive Fall season begins with back-to-school, hunting, and pumpkin spice, and usually ends with Thanksgiving. It is tolerated by many, enjoyed by some, and loved passionately by a few. So, let’s talk turkey for a minute (see what I did there?) about what Fall means to the business owners in town.

Fall is a very busy time for small businesses. Or, shall I say, productive time. There is a big difference between busy and productive. Tourism usually stays fairly consistent through the Fall, so profits can generally be counted on, but there’s a lot to prepare for in upcoming seasons.

For retail shops, End-of-Summer specials, Fall specials, and Christmas specials all happen on top of each other, making inventory changes and daily planning a huge priority. Sometimes, shop owners can be seen at their establishments late into the evening, switching out window displays, doing markdowns, and hauling out new shipments of products for placement on the sales floor.

For service businesses and contractors, this is the time of year when winterizing is important; helping people ready their homes for freezing temperatures keeps many businesses moving quickly. For hospitality businesses like restaurants and hotels, this is the time of year when rates and menus change, and bookings begin to come in for holiday parties, which can take extra staffing and time.

Fall is a time for harvest, and harvest takes work. A lot of it. But, no one ever starts a business because they’re afraid of work! (Or, if they did, they are sadly mistaken.) Fall for small business owners is also a time of reflection and planning for the next year. Many businesses in Boundary County have to plan their year seasonally, preparing for the Winter months to be lower in revenue than the rest of the year. This takes astute financial planning.

Sometimes hours, rates, or services change from Summer to Winter. This takes good communication on the part of the business, to ensure that all their potential clientele know their updates. Even something as simple as changing your hours can be a multi-step process. Not only must your sign on your storefront change, but so must your social media and web presence.

One more thing business owners do in the Fall is check on their bookkeeping and look at their books. This is the last quarter of the year, and it’s a critical time to make sure plans are put in place for the following year, and important to check on the end-of-year numbers for this year. This is the time of year that business owners look to sponsor or donate, if they have any money left, that is. The IRS will come calling for any funds that aren’t earmarked, so any money that can go into sponsorships and advertising is used wisely.

So, embrace Fall like a business owner! Get those projects organized. Put in that extra effort. Plan ahead for Winter. Set goals for 2021. Some people’s (or businesses’) goals might simply be “recover from 2020,” but at least that’s something! You can’t meet a goal you haven’t made. Take Fall for all it’s worth, and bring in your harvest!

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Nancy Croll is a representative of the Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Boundary Consignments.