The holiday shopping season running between Black Friday and the New Year is a boon to many small businesses. Especially in a good economic climate like we’ve seen so far in 2021, people are buying to celebrate the holiday spirit. Many holiday shoppers will patronize local businesses over major retailers.
But the festive season is not only about holiday sales. The week between Christmas and New Year’s, when the holiday rush is somewhat over, is when a business owner may have time for strategic planning or tasks they don’t usually have time for.
Finally, the holiday season can be a time of community and celebration. You may want to use the season to raise your company’s profile as a charitable contributor, drive engagement with customers, and/or boost the morale of employees.
Let’s discuss how to prepare your business by itemizing some holiday season tips for small business owners.
Ensure Robust Sales and Customer Engagement
Plan in advance to answer the question “How do I prepare my business for the holiday season?” Usually, business owners use the holiday season to drive robust sales and customer engagement. How you do this, of course, will depend on what goods and services you offer.
If your business provides items that can be purchased as holiday gifts, make sure you have enough inventory on hand! Review the past sales figures of your busy season, and order well enough in advance to prevent delays.
Review your advertising and holiday marketing campaign. What channels have been the most fruitful during the busy holiday season? Social media, marketing email campaigns, direct marketing, websites, and more all have their place.
Realize that although the COVID-19 pandemic has been moderated, it may still affect customer behavior. If customers visit you at a physical location, give them peace of mind by having preventative measures in place. Make sure any online shopping system works seamlessly if you’re an online retailer. And don’t lose the opportunity to collect additional email addresses for your email newsletter!
If your business benefits from customer shopping activity (such as a food kiosk or hairdressing salon), plan how you’ll optimize sales during the season. Promotional giveaways and discounts? Merchandise with a holiday theme? Elves handing out flyers? Make sure the buying experience is just as good as the shopping experience. Maximize both the good cheer and potential stress of the holiday season in marketing your products.
If you need seasonal employees, make sure that you plan for hiring and training before the actual holiday season begins. You need fully competent and confident employees when the first customer walks in.
Make sure all your processes and systems are fully operational. Everything from point of sale cash intake to ordering to warehousing and the supply chain needs to be checked thoroughly for any challenges. If you need a plan to meet the challenges, you need to strategize it before the holidays begin.
Strategic Planning and Completing Tasks
If you have some downtime over the holidays, use it to benefit your business. Remember, it’s also year-end! That’s the prime time to review your data and plan.
First, look at your sales. Were any specific items or services particularly popular? Did the needs or preferences of your clients change over the year? How can you meet them more effectively next year? Does any good or service need to be ramped up? Any retired?
Second, look at your cost of goods sold. It’s no secret that inflation is spiking throughout the U.S. If inflation is significant in your sector, how does it affect your margins? Do you need to adjust your raw materials due to price increases? Is your customer base likely to tolerate price increase pass-throughs? If not, plan for any method to cut your own costs.
Third, review your marketing strategy and sales plans. Do you need to revamp your website? Do you need a Tik-Tok marketing campaign to appeal to younger people? Have current events, such as plans for increased infrastructure spending and concerns about climate change, impact your business at all?
Fourth, review any challenges you faced last year, from supply chain issues to COVID re-opening. Do you need an enhanced method of dealing with those issues? What issues might you face in 2022? If some loom on the horizon, create a plan.
Finally, most small business owners have a list of things to do that frankly, they never have time for. More urgent priorities crowd in. But these things can be important to attend to — everything from purchasing new equipment to finally getting a chance to look at new office space possibilities. The holidays can provide enough downtime to finally put these things on your list — and cross them off.
Community and Celebration
The holidays are about gift-giving generally — and for many companies and business owners, that includes charitable contributions within their communities. Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is all about giving to nonprofits and charitable organizations, but the emphasis goes far beyond that day.
Does your business support any charities? If so, this is a perfect time to plan your footprint for the holidays. If not, think through whether it would be a good business move. Many businesses like to show community support and engagement, and it can motivate clients to do business with you.
Is it the right time to foster engagement with your customers? If you’re in a sector where people are still hesitant to shop in person due to COVID concerns, cards or a holiday gift can be a way to engage and show loyal customers that you remember them and want to do business.
Do you run a brick-and-mortar business that’s customer-facing? If so, it might be a good idea to decorate the business seasonally (that said, your employees might enjoy the decor, too!).
Finally, the season can be a time to show employees how much you appreciate them by spreading holiday cheer. Consider gifts, bonuses, or time off to be with family. Some employees may appreciate an opportunity to participate in charitable causes the company supports.
It can also be a great idea to do a survey to find out what your employees would most like. A holiday party is traditional, but for many people, can represent more obligation in a season that’s already a stressful time due to time crunches. If they’d like a day off of their choice during the year instead, you can build a lot of goodwill and engagement by making that your “holiday” gift.
Prepare for a holiday season that will benefit your business in all kinds of ways. Best wishes for 2022!