Wondering how to prepare your business for the holidays? The holiday season often brings the busiest time of the year for small businesses and increasing demands from the owners’ family and friends. By being well prepared, owners and their families increase their chances for a happy holiday season — and a happy and prosperous new year.
Staying Ahead of the Competition
Let’s face it. Yours isn’t the only business out there that’s hoping to take advantage of the busy holiday season. So it’s important to stay a step ahead of the competition.
These five tips will help prepare you and your business for the holidays.
1. Track Inventory
A lot of a business’s success this holiday season will depend on what it’s able to offer its customers when they want it. That starts with inventory.
By looking at last year’s sales, owners can gauge the products that resonated best with customers — and what didn’t do as well. Remember, it can be just as bad to order too much of a product as it is to run out of product that’s in high demand. Having shelves stocked with inventory that’s not moving is a loss.
If sales figures from last year don’t provide much help with purchasing inventory this year, put a plan in place to track sales this time around. This will not only help in the current holiday season, but also better prepare for planning in the year to come.
Small Business Deals
2. Minimize Back Office Work
High volume sales and extended hours are likely to keep owners from managing the back end of their business in a timely manner. It’s the customer first, everything else later.
Small businesses today should be taking advantage of the myriad technological advancements that ease the burden of handling tasks like accounting, billing, collecting customer data and presenting and automating business transactions.
“It’s important that small business owners understand how to use technology to help manage the needs of their business,” said Laura Miller, president of Ink app from Chase. “These technologies can quickly and easily provide small business owners with more time and flexibility to focus on growing and maintaining the business.”
3. Stay On Top of Sales and Expenses
During this time of the year, things tend to move at a more frenetic pace, which can make it more difficult to stay up-to-the-minute on the daily business tasks. This also means spending more time than usual trying to reconcile checks and balances when you do finally get to it.
This is where automation and technology become a small business owner’s best friends. A product like the Ink app from Chase (available to Ink app from Chase) gives instant notifications of sales and purchases made whenever the card is used.
“It’s important that business owners have the proper tools in place to help support the ongoing needs of their business, since slowing down to tackle these is the last thing today’s small business owners have the time to do,” Miller said.
And for those unexpected, last-minute expenses, the Ink app allows users to snap photos of receipts so they can be tracked by accounting software and not accidentally thrown in the trash or lost amid the shuffle.
4. Develop a Marketing Strategy
It’s important for businesses to stand out among the endless marketing gimmicks and promotions used to entice customers. Instead, small businesses should focus on offering holiday promotions specific to their products and services. Once owners have special loyalty offers in place, they need to figure out how to get them in front of potential customers.
Here are a few options.
- Email marketing still proves to be the most effective with the highest conversion rate for owners with a robust email list.
- Social media is also an obvious first step. Initial promotion is free and there are paid options to promote products and services on these sites. Companies may also want to consider ad campaigns through major search engines like Bing and Google. And brick-and-mortar shops should consider offering local in-store promotions.
- Gather customer data to keep them aware of future promotions and offerings. Consider a promotion that offers a discount in exchange for an email address to build an email list and repeat customer base.
5. Prioritize Employee Well-being
The holiday season doesn’t only affect business owners; it has a huge impact on employees too. It’s essential to ensure that your team remains motivated, well-rested, and appreciated. Consider offering flexible schedules, overtime bonuses, or organizing holiday parties. A happy and motivated team can deliver better customer service and cope with the seasonal demands more efficiently.
Here are some ideas:
- Flexible Working Hours: Understand that your employees might have personal commitments or family gatherings during the holidays. Offering flexible working hours or shifts can help them balance their work-life commitments without affecting productivity.
- Holiday Bonuses or Incentives: An extra monetary bonus or incentive during the festive season can serve as a token of appreciation. This not only boosts morale but also motivates employees to give their best during the rush.
- Team Building Activities: Organize fun team-building activities or games during breaks. This can serve as a stress buster and can foster a sense of camaraderie among employees, ensuring a harmonious work environment.
- Relaxation Spaces: Set up a relaxation corner or lounge with comfy chairs, mood lighting, and soft music. This can serve as a mini-retreat for employees to take short breaks, relax, and rejuvenate.
- Professional Growth Workshops: Organize workshops or training sessions on stress management, time management, or even skill development. This not only aids in personal growth but also shows that the business cares about their holistic well-being.
6. Decorate and Create a Festive Ambiance
Never underestimate the power of a festive environment. Customers are more likely to spend time and money in places that evoke the holiday spirit. Invest in some holiday decorations, play festive music, and consider special seasonal product displays. The ambiance can play a pivotal role in enhancing the customer’s shopping experience.
7. Plan Post-Holiday Sales
The end of the holiday season doesn’t mean the end of shopping. Many customers are on the lookout for post-holiday deals and clearance sales. By planning these sales in advance, businesses can clear out leftover inventory and continue their revenue stream even after the main holiday rush.
Remember, the key to navigating the holiday season successfully is a blend of preparation, adaptability, and a keen understanding of your customer’s needs and desires.
8. Maintain Momentum
Preparation for the holiday season hopefully leads to less clean up after it ends. There should be no penny unaccounted for at the end of the season. Organization, proper tracking and planned strategies prepared in advance are important to a successful and fruitful holiday season.
Chase for Business has many products and services that can help prepare you and your small business for the holidays to compete successfully.
How to Prepare Your Business for the Holidays Summary
|Track Inventory||Gauge products from prior year's sales; avoid excessive stock or depleting high-demand products; strategize for improved inventory management.|
|Minimize Back Office Work||Utilize technology for tasks like accounting, billing, and more; emphasize the value of tools such as the Ink app from Chase.|
|Stay on Top of Sales and Expenses||Embrace automation to manage the busy holiday pace; adopt tools for instant transaction notifications and expense management.|
|Develop a Marketing Strategy||Concentrate on holiday-centric promotions; capitalize on email marketing, social media, and search engine advertisements; amass customer data for future outreach.|
|Prioritize Employee Well-being||Provide flexible work schedules and bonuses; host team-building activities and growth workshops; establish relaxation zones for breaks.|
|Create a Festive Ambiance||Enhance the venue with festive decorations and melodies; enrich the consumer experience with holiday-themed product showcases.|
|Plan Post-Holiday Sales||Strategize for post-holiday bargains; present an avenue to dispense with residual inventory and sustain revenue influx post the main holiday hustle.|
|Maintain Momentum||Accentuate the significance of meticulous tracking and organization; highlight that foresight ensures a seamless conclusion to the holiday season.|
Graph Image via Shutterstock
More in: Holidays