The year 2017 has flown by! We are well underway in the last quarter, which means the holiday season is quickly approaching. If you have been to any big box stores lately you noticed that the Christmas decorations are out along with the Halloween ones. For many businesses, this is the busiest time of the year. Consumers purchase presents, look for deals for themselves, and businesses look to spend the remainder of their 2017 budget prior to losing it at the end of the year.
The fourth quarter is the time of year when some businesses bring in the majority of their revenue. If this is your business or if you want it to increase your holiday sales, it’s time to gear up. This checklist can help you make the most of the holiday season:
Checklist Item #1 Get organized
Once the holiday rush has started it’s too late to get organized. At that point, you will just be working to keep up with the business. Now is the best time to get organized. Make sure you have proper systems in place to handle everything from sales and shipping to customer service and follow-up. The holidays are a busy time for most people and you want to give your customers the best experience possible in the midst of the craziness.
If you don’t have a small business management system in place here are a few good ones to look into:
- Quickbooks – Most business owners have heard of Quickbooks. The software allows you to track customer accounts, bids, invoices, and accounts payable. You can use it for payroll and it makes paying business taxes easy as well. If you add on Fishbowl you can also track your inventory.
- Zoho – With Zoho you can track everything in your business from meeting a prospect to following up after the sale. You can use this program as a CRM, for accounting, and to track your inventory.
- Brightpearl – If you are a retailer or wholesaler, Brightpearl was created just for you. The system works as a CRM system, accounting software, and inventory tracker all in one.
If you sign up now you will have time to complete training and get comfortable with the system prior to the rush.
Checklist Item #2 Hire extra help
Extra business needs extra work for you and your staff. If you can afford to bring in some extra help your staff will thank you. There are many people that are interested in picking up extra work around the holiday season. Try looking for college students that are on break between semesters. They are only looking for work over their break and won’t mind when you can’t keep them once the busy season is finished.
Hiring extra help during the holiday season is also a great way to test out some new workers. If you think that you will be seeing growth in 2018 and will want extra staff you can hire people as temp employees throughout the holidays and if they are good workers you can offer them positions once the season has passed. If it turns out your temporary workers are not ones that you will want to keep long-term, no harm done.
Here are a few ideas on how to find holiday help for your business:
- Advertise at local colleges
- Post on job boards
- Ad in the newspaper
- If you need virtual help try bidding sites like Upwork.
Checklist Item #3 Stock up on inventory
Look at your past years to see what type of business you were doing during the holidays. This will help you to estimate what type of increase in sales you can expect for this holiday season. Take into consideration any sustained growth that you have achieved throughout the year as well. You do not want to chance running out of products that customers want during the holiday season (or ever).
Purchase your raw materials and shipping materials in bulk to save money. Walk through your process from start to finish so you have everything you need on hand. This will reduce the amount of stress you and your employees experience and the wait time that your customers receive before receiving your product.
Checklist Item #4 Decide on discounts and a marketing campaign
Consumers always want a great price, but during the holiday season, they are expecting to find discounts and promotions. Get creative to come up with something that will set yourself apart from your competition. It could be a special sale or the introduction of a new product. Look for a deal that your target market will love and then develop a plan to promote it.
Build anticipation for a big sale by starting early. Once November hits start advertising the sale that you will hold or special price that you will offer. Find where your target market spends time and then spread the word. Hit social media with news of your upcoming promotion. Send out an email blast to your list. Don’t forget about your previous customers. Come up with a special promotion just for consumers that have purchased from you before.
Don’t forget to plan for 2018
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush of the holiday season. But, don’t forget that 2018 is right around the corner. Make sure you invest some of your time during the fourth quarter into preparing for the start of 2018. Set your business goals for the upcoming year. Break them into actionable items and develop a plan to help you and your staff reach them. A little strategic planning will go a long way in getting you off to a good start in 2018.