The holidays are upon us, and as a small business owner, you'll want to ensure that your business is prepared. From employee vacations to inventory orders, what steps should you be taking to make sure your small business runs smoothly during the holiday season? Let’s take a closer look at some innovative ideas to maximize profits and improve operations over the holiday months.
Staff up appropriately.
Use insights gained from past holidays to properly assess the minimum number of employees your small business needs in order to run smoothly. This is even more essential if your small business is a retail operation that sells products or services. Because of the holiday rush, you may need additional sales staff, shipping and receiving crews, stocking associates, cashiers and managers to keep pushing product out the door during the season of peak demand. Keep in mind that holidays are the time when most employees will want time off with their families, so that should factor into your planning as well.
Prepare for the rush.
Regardless of what kind of small business you run, you are likely to see a spike in business during the holiday months. By training employees in advance on how to handle a rush can make a big difference in successfully managing a crush of shoppers. If you don’t think your current staff levels will be enough to efficiently handle the crowds, consider taking on temporary help, not only during the shopping season but also during those crucial return days in January. Online retailers should also do a “spring cleaning” of sorts on their web sites, implementing user-friendly features, detailed purchase and return policies, and any special promotions.
Get Into the Holiday Spirit
This is the best part of preparing for the holiday, really. If you are managing a brick-and-mortar store, it’s time to bust out the holiday decorations and stock up on candy canes to give away with purchase. If your small business is more a business-to-business or internal-facing model, send holiday cards out to customers, clients, or potential customers to promote your business. You might even include a coupon or a free coffee or similar bonus if they do business with you again.
Get creative with your marketing.
The only limits to your holiday marketing are what you can think up. Crazy sales, holiday promotions and visits from Old Saint Nick can not only bring in uncertain customers, but they’re also likely to catch the attention of the local media. Taking a look at your traffic patterns can also help you fine-tune your holiday specials and promotions. By offering holiday incentives such as free shipping, percentage discounts or buy one/get one free offers, you stand a better chance of enticing customers to return to your small business in the future.
By using your creativity to set the mood and connect with your customers, you should be well on your way to a fruitful and successful holiday season. How does your unique business prepare for the holidays? Let us know in the comments!