The Handy Guide to Making Your Small Business Holiday-Ready
When you’re a small business owner, the holiday season tends to be as stressful as it’s joyous. You have to brace for a spike of customer activity, plan around irregular employee work hours, and often deal with cash flow hiccups. Did we mention attempting to woo customers with an original holiday-season marketing campaign? It can all be pretty challenging.
To help prepare your small business for the holiday season and continue operating smoothly, Flashlight Marketing offers a full checklist of everything you need to consider and account for:
Conducting a festive marketing drive
The holiday season is synonymous with shopping season. According to Statista, Americans are spending more and more money each year, from $76.68 billion in 2015 to a staggering $190.47 billion in 2020. If you’d like to tap into the festive market, you need a creative, meaningful marketing campaign. Touch on holiday themes; make it feel good and wholesome; and offer plenty of freebies and added value. Holiday sales, discounts, coupons, flyers, newsletters, and emails are strategies that always work.
Sprucing up and beautifying
Holiday decorations have a significant psychological impact. Customers are much more likely to walk into a decorated, clean, lit-up store or office. Consider getting a fresh coat of paint, adding some holiday lighting, and making your premises as clean as possible. You should also spruce up your online presence – this is doubly important when you’re online-only. Design holiday-themed pages, get a new landing page with holiday offers, and create and distribute holiday content.
Creating a seasonal logo
A neat psychological trick many big brands like Starbucks employ is redoing their usual business logo for the festivities ahead. It tends to put customers in a more cheerful, generous mood, not to mention creates a powerful impression and boosts brand awareness. You don’t need to necessarily hire someone to do the seasonal logo. Instead, you can have a free logo design made by a logo maker app. It’s easy and mostly automatic. You choose a style and icon, type in some suitable text, adjust fonts and colors to match the holiday, and choose from an array of templates.
Preparing your infrastructure for the holiday rush
If you own a retail store, there will be an increase in footfall around certain dates. The same counts for your website. It pays to be prepared. Make sure your store is stocked with extra inventory, cashiers, and personnel. Place your orders with suppliers well in advance. Also, tune up your website to make sure there are no bugs. Consider renting extra servers, if necessary, to accommodate the surge and to prevent downtime and losing out on customer orders.
Enabling faster checkouts and services
The average e-commerce cart abandonment rate is 70 percent, according to E-Commerce Nation. Pay special attention to the checkout experience, whether that’s offline or online, and do everything in your power to make it convenient, simple, and – most importantly – fast. Customers don’t want to stand in line and expect to breeze through the checkout process – they have things to do and places to be. Additionally, they prefer multiple payment options and delivery methods.
Outlining a holiday schedule
Holiday schedules are necessary for both marketing efforts and operational reasons. First, you’ll need to release editorial content periodically to usher in special dates (and also to toot your own horn a little!). Second, you’ll have to plan in employee hours and various leaves of absence. Third, you’ll have to get your business hours sorted and updated. Make note of the details online, in your various listings, and outside your building.
Staffing and training seasonal employees
Many businesses hire seasonal employees to keep up with the increased demand. You must leave plenty of time for hiring appropriate people and also for training them. A bad hire can be a costly mistake, and seasonal staff usually need at least a few weeks to get into the swing of things. The smoother and more comprehensive your onboarding program, the easier it’ll be for them to fit in and work well.
Ensuring adequate cash reserves
The holiday season heralds an increase in overheads and various expenses. Seasonal cash flow problems are common, reports Become. To avoid operational problems and delays, you will need to gather enough cash reserves to keep going. Extra expenses you can expect include employee bonuses, payroll, decorations, big-ticket purchases, stockpile orders, gifts, and returns. Look into making a holiday budget to avoid overspending and keeping track of your various expenses. Having an emergency fund is icing on the cake.
Automating with software
If you haven’t automated your business processes already, the holidays may be a good time to try. Using bookkeeping software, time-tracking tools, productivity tools, marketing software, POS systems, and CRM apps are all worth your time. With the right tools, you’ll be better able to manage your various obligations and operate smoothly and efficiently, and many of the best tools are free to use.
Giving back to employees
Keeping your employees happy is just as important as catering to your customers. Some of the ways employers can give back to employees include throwing a holiday party, offering bonuses, setting up a secret gift exchange or similar event, arranging for overtime pay, providing flexible schedules, and assisting with childcare on busy days.
Helping your community
Many businesses also acknowledge their community’s contribution to their success around the holiday season. They look to give back and assist in various ways, from volunteering their employee’s time to set up fundraisers, and everything in between. If you want to help your community this year, prepare a budget, consider how much you’d like to invest (time can be as valuable as money), and support a cause you can get behind.
Your planning is critical not only for the upcoming holidays but also for the year ahead. If you play your cards right, you’ll have a productive season and fatten up your coffers nicely. You can then use the extra cash to start the New Year off on the right foot and better achieve your various business goals. Don’t forget to celebrate and have fun while you’re at it!
Image via Unsplash