November 12, 2017
The holiday season is upon us, but as a business owner, you already know that. For many businesses, this is the most profitable time of the year. For some it’s exciting and for others, well, it’s a little nerve-wracking. So, here are nine (9) ideas for you to prepare and grow your small business during the holiday season by reviewing and delegating with your team.
1. Set Sales Goals
You can’t know what you need to prepare for the holiday season without knowing your goals. Sit down with your trusted team members and carve out goals for hitting different targets along the way from now until the end of the year. Define the minimum goals you need to reach, your expected goals, and your stretch goals. Don’t only define these goals in terms of revenue, but add any other goals you may have such as customer engagement and social media following.
2. Order supplies
Once your goals are set, check last year’s orders to anticipate how much of basic supplies you’ll need, whether that’s shipping supplies and packaging, paper towels and toilet paper for your restrooms, or branded gift cards for holiday shoppers. If this is your first year in business, your network may be able to guide you through your first holiday ordering season. Remember to order early to avoid rush shipping charges later. Being prepared can help you meet your customers’ needs with ease.
3. Create a Holiday-Focused Marketing Campaign
Use our holiday-crazed society as a benefit to your business. We’re programmed to LOVE holidays, especially the present buying season. Why will customers want to spend time at your small business this holiday season? What makes you unique? Determine the answer and build a marketing campaign around it. Maybe you have the best selection in town. Maybe your customer service can solve any shopping conundrum. Build your holiday marketing about what makes your business stand out from the crowd – and don’t be shy about it. Let your target audience know that you have what they need and since you’re a small business, you actually care about them and therefore you’ll do it better than the big guys.
4. Plan to Stock Up on Extra Inventory
If you sell goods, hopefully you’ve done your best to anticipate the crowds and their needs. But is it enough? Make sure you have a plan to purchase extra inventory quickly if your holiday sales are better than expected. But keep something in mind – your suppliers are under their own pressure and they may have ordering deadlines to get products to you in time for the holidays. Be sure you know their deadlines by marking them on a calendar that you can see easily so these ordering deadlines don’t pass you by.
5. Set the Mood and Decorate
Even if you feel like the Grinch when it comes to the holidays, add a little extra flair to help stand out from the crowd during this busy season. Your whole team can get involved: plan a late-night or early-morning decorating party. Order takeout for your team, play festive music (or regular music, for the Grinches among us), and transform your business in a matter of hours. If you have a retail business, remember to check corners for cobwebs and dust your fixtures to help your merchandise shine.
6. Make holiday schedules
Now’s the time to determine your holiday operating hours. Will you be open longer than usual? Do you plan to close your business for a few days? Be sure to tell your staff about holiday hours and explain your expectations of them during the holiday season. Ask your team to request any holiday time off by a certain date, so you can plan employee schedules accordingly.
7. Train Your Seasonal Employees
You know you’ll be busier than usual this holiday season, so you hired a couple of extra employees. Invest your time and train them properly. Even though you may not see its worth now, the better their training, the better experience your customers will have and the less stressed you’ll be about an unexpected rush.
8. Check your Website
Give your business Website a once-over to make sure it’s ready for a busy holiday season. Is the design tidy and easy to use? Can customers easily find your most popular products or services? Does your ecommerce checkout work smoothly? If you’re the person who works on your Website most often, hand this task to a staffer or a trusted friend. They’ll be able to spot the issues you might miss.
9. Invest in New Software
Have you been eyeing new software? Whether you’re in need of updated record keeping, inventory tracking, employee management systems, or industry specific software, now is the time to buy yourself an early holiday gift. As you prepare for 2018, when you have new software that saves you time and resources, your business will run smoother and you’ll be able to spend more quality time with your family, friends, or if you prefer, some alone time with a little peace and quiet.