The holiday season may be the most profitable time of year, but it’s also where your business is under the most pressure. With demand overtaking supply and reduced staff, no amount of preparation ever seems to be enough.
Have you started preparing for the holiday season? If you haven’t, you should probably start right away.
Seasoned business owners share their best advice for preparing for the holiday rush. Read on for advice about:
Advertising and Marketing
Although you may already have a loyal set of customers, advertising during the holiday season is a great way to get your name out, drive sales, acquire new customers, and build relationships with existing customers. Start by creating a holiday marketing plan to outline all your goals.
“Target your ideal customer before the holiday comes around by generating excitement,” shares Joseph Jones of Beyond Blue Media.
You can create anticipation by putting up decorations, playing holiday music, and using holiday-related visuals in your stores, on your website and social media accounts.
Jeff Moriarty of Moriarty’s Gem Art suggests collecting emails and SMS and making a marketing list. “It’s the first time we work SMS marketing into the equation, which we’re excited about,” he shares.
Use promotional discounts – especially free shipping – to entice customers into shopping early.
Gerrid Smith of Joy Organics shares, “Expect more product demand if you’re a manufacturer. That includes purchasing more materials from your suppliers, arranging additional manufacturing, and possibly hiring additional staff.”
“Reserve additional warehousing space and transportation resources if necessary. If you’re a merchandiser, you’ll want to get your orders in early so you can have holiday merchandise ready when you need it,” Smith continued.
“Remember that your suppliers are under pressure as well, and they will appreciate early orders. In any case, familiarize yourself with your suppliers’ required lead times and place orders before it’s too late,” he added.
You can estimate the amount to order by looking at last year’s sales and making projections — track inventory by creating an inventory management system.
Businesses everywhere are short-staffed, and that number is expected to increase during the holiday season as workers want to spend the holidays with their families. Staff shortages can be costly and damaging to businesses.
The good news is, with the proper management and planning, you can easily prevent staffing issues.
“Hire and recruit seasonal employees early,” shares Eric Carrell of SurfShark.
“Seasonal workers who have been properly trained can help relieve the workload of full-time employees while also assisting you in providing excellent customer service. An early recruiting procedure allows you to thoroughly screen applicants, and good training ensures that everyone in the workplace is safe,” added Carrell.
“Ask existing employees for recommendations on trustworthy temps that can fill in during the holiday season. Incentivize the employee who recommends someone you end up hiring”, adds Joe Coletta, founder of 180 Engineering.
If you’re planning extended operating hours, tell your employees right away so you can factor in their holiday plans in advance. If possible, ask them to take time off earlier.
Lastly, don’t forget to show your employees appreciation. “If you’re a small business owner, you may not be able to afford to offer your employees corporate-style bonuses. You may still show your thanks for your workers’ hard work by giving them a gift, an additional vacation day, or even a potluck”, shares Austin LaRoche of ATAK Interactive.
Preparing Your E-Commerce Store
According to a Deloitte forecast, holiday retail sales are expected to increase by 9% this holiday season. Because customers are wary of venturing into crowded stores, e-commerce sales will continue to rise. Thus, you must prepare your website for the holidays.
Ladybugz Digital Agency owner Lysa Miller suggests letting your customers know about your holiday hours ahead of time. Update your email signature, website, and social media accounts to reflect the change — schedule important updates, social media posts, and blog posts ahead of time.
Update your SEO by using seasonal keywords for content and optimizing for local SEO.
Check your payment processors and website security. Review whether your current hosting plan can handle the expected holiday traffic.
Final Thoughts – Best Advice To Prepare Your Small Business for the Holidays
By following advice from experienced entrepreneurs, you can make the best of the holiday season.
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