Holiday season is the time of rejoicing and celebrating. The time of the year is signified by snow, parties, and the magic of Christmas. It is the time of the year when people willingly spend money to buy presents for their friends and family. Millions swarm the streets and come out on a shopping spree while providing businesses with great opportunity to enhance their business.
The massive influx of people and the rising demand are good signs for the industry and small businesses. However, this opportunity can convert into chaos and embarrassment very soon if your business is not prepared to deal with the rise in demand.
As an entrepreneur approaching the holiday season, your main objective should be to stay ahead of the massive rise in demand and consumers that are going to visit your store or website. The second main objective should be to utilize the opportunity to increase revenue and profits for the business.
Preparation is essential if you want to plan ahead. A robust plan and solid preparation will help you in minimizing the pressure on the back office while maintaining good customer service. The first part of planning for the holiday season includes keeping track of the inventory, because during the season you will need each unit for supply. You also need to develop a good understanding of what the customer is looking for. Given the expected demand and the type of shoppers that can visit you during the season, it is imperative to adjust your business to accommodate them.
While the larger firms have the luxury of a finance staff and business intelligence software, small businesses are on their own. Given the limitations a small business has, the holiday season is a great way to test and challenge yourself over targets that you can achieve.
To help you out, we have made a list of important tips that you should follow to prepare your business for the holiday season, and to ensure you achieve them successfully.
1. Minimize the Pressure on Back Office
Reducing the stress on the back office is one of the main ways to ensure that your customers are left satisfied with the performance of the business.
The high volume of sales and the extended hours are one of the main reasons why managers and owners are not able to take control of the back end of the business. The ‘customer first and everything else later’ approach prevents business owners from intervening in the back end problems in a timely manner.
This problem occurs because small businesses today are unwilling to accept and adapt to the technological changes taking place. While these changes may be expensive to acquire, they help in easing the burden of handling tasks like accounting and billing. The software are also used for collecting customer data while presenting and automating the transactions of the business.
This automation provides the owner with the most valuable asset during a stressful period, and that is time. With the accounting software or outsourced individual managing the accounting of the business the owner can focus on the more important aspects.
It is important for business owners to understand that adapting to and accepting change is the name of the game. Businesses that are unwilling to change over time find themselves in a whirlwind of chaos that is beyond their control. Technology and innovative solutions provides your business with flexibility and efficiency that are the key elements fueling growth.
2. Stay in Touch with Sales and Expenses
At this time of the year, things can get pretty hectic. The rate at which customers flock your place and demand for products can make it difficult for you to stay up to date with the business tasks. The only time you have to glance at the numbers is when you try to reconcile checks and balances.
The lack of knowledge of the financial position of the business prevents you from making on the spot decisions in case you run into a problem. This is where the need for automation joins the debate, an application will ease you business operations by updating you with all the sales and purchases made during the day.
Connecting an application with the payments system is the best way to keep track of payments especially when sales and purchases are made with help of a card. It is essential for business owners to have the proper tools in place to aid the ongoing needs of the business. Slowing down operations just because business operation needs to tackle a problem is the last thing you need during the holiday season.
3. Develop a Marketing Strategy
As mentioned earlier, the key to surviving the holiday season unscathed depends on the kind of strategy you develop. Business that prepare for the worst are best equipped to deal with them, and this is because they develop an effective strategy to rescue them from hot troubled waters.
A marketing strategy is an essential element of good preparation. All businesses have the urge of standing out from the crowd of their competitors in the industry. To ensure that your business stands out and provides the best rate possible, it is imperative to follow an effective marketing strategy.
Remember that during the holiday season, a customer has seen endless marketing gimmicks and promotions to entice them to purchase a good. In the end, the customers opt for products that fulfill their needs by providing them with the goods that they were looking for.
Small businesses don’t have the financial depth and stability to offer promotions and huge discounts to their customers. At a time when all businesses around them are offering users with exciting deals and discounts, small businesses struggle to find ways to attract the consumer.
Rather than promising discounts and packages, the small business can focus on providing holiday promotions that are specific to their products and services. Once you have a special loyalty offer in place, you can test out ways to present them in front of potential customers. Here are a few options that you can try:
- Email marketing, to this day, proves to be one of the most effective ways to get the attention of the consumer. The method has the highest conversion rate as people impressed by your offer will be willing to try it out.
- Social media is an obvious first step in the right direction for most businesses. The platform provides you to setup an identity online giving your business a voice and the opportunity to interact with potential customers. Companies are also exploring their options on major search engines such as Bing and Google. An advertisement on the online web platform ensures that your product or promotional package reaches a wider audience
- Another method that you can try is gathering customer data to keep the customers aware of all the future promotions and offerings. Consider a promotion that provides the users with a discount in exchange for email address. This will help you in creating an email list and will enable you to create a repeat customer base.
4. Track Inventory
A lot of the success achieved during the holiday season depends on what you can offer to the consumers. This decision starts with the levels of inventory you have.
Owners can find out the products that were popular with their customers by gauging the sales that took place during the last month. The same information can be assessed to find out about products that didn’t go according to plan. A good businessman has the art of interpreting data and stats wisely. This interpretation will help you in deciding a strong policy for the future.
Not knowing or assessing the performance of a product can lead owners to placing incorrect orders that can put the financial position of the business under considerable strife. Do keep in mind though, that it is just as bad to order too much of a product as it to run out of a product that is in high demand. Having inventory that is not moving and is placed on the shelves of the store for long periods is a loss that all businesses should look to avoid.
Effective inventory management takes into consideration all these factors before defining a new policy. If for some reason you think that the sales from the previous season don’t provide much help in purchasing inventory, then you should look to plan ahead. Put a plan in place to monitor and track the performance of sales. The more well-informed you are regarding the activities of your business the better the decision making will be.
Ensuring the implementation of an effective monitoring strategy will not only put you in a good place for this holiday season but also for the coming seasons.
5. Align the Reporting
When taking on business activities small business owners often undermine the value of identifying the required financial insights. These financial insights are important for making decisions that will help you in achieving your goals.
Information about your business can also provide you with a ground to compare your performance with the competitors in the industry. Regular comparisons with the industry benchmarks are a great way to assess how you are doing relative to their peers. Aligning your report in a scribble careless manner is not a great way to manage the reporting mechanism of the business.
Whether it is presenting it to potential lenders or assessing them yourself, the presentation of the report always matters. It is imperative that the financial report should present the reader with essential financial insights regarding the business. During the holiday season, you are bound to face a huge financial crunch- and in times of such a crunch it is only normal to prioritize the customers. This is why it is essential to outsource the reporting and the recording function.
6. Check Holiday Schedule and Decorate
During the start of the year it is important to mark all the holiday seasons and all holidays that come during the year. Marking the holiday will allow you to make specific strategies targeting the segment of the society celebrating a specific holiday. For example you can offer special deals for children during the summer vacations or make exclusive deals for families during the 4th of July.
You can also decorate your store or place of business according to the holiday your customers are celebrating. Get your team involved in the decoration of the store; plan a late night or an early morning decoration party. Play festive music that suits the holiday settings and make your staff wear clothes according to the holiday.
It is essential that your whole staff is onboard the idea of celebrating a holiday. Each member should know of the significance of such activities and should be willing to work to get the holiday season going. Ensure that you get working together to transform your business in a matter of hours. Remember to see that each and every corner of the store is shining and radiating the holiday spirit. Clear the whole area and dust the fixtures so that the merchandise can shine.
The aforementioned tips can help you prepare effectively for the holiday season. You will miss a great opportunity by ignoring the need for picking up the pace to match the high demand during the holiday season.
Some of the tips mentioned above are useful even during the normal day to day activities. Therefore, small businesses must look to following these tips to compete with the large companies that offer lucrative discounts to their users.