The holiday season often brings the busiest time of the year for small businesses and increasing demands from the owners’ family and friends.
By being well prepared, owners and their families increase their chances for a happy holiday season — and a happy and prosperous new year.
Staying Ahead of the Competition
Let’s face it. Yours isn’t the only business out there that’s hoping to take advantage of the busy holiday season. So it’s important to stay a step ahead of the competition.
These five tips will help prepare you and your business for the holidays.
1. Track Inventory
A lot of a business’s success this holiday season will depend on what it’s able to offer its customers when they want it. That starts with inventory.
By looking at last year’s sales, owners can gauge the products that resonated best with customers — and what didn’t do as well. Remember, it can be just as bad to order too much of a product as it is to run out of product that’s in high demand. Having shelves stocked with inventory that’s not moving is a loss.
If sales figures from last year don’t provide much help with purchasing inventory this year, put a plan in place to track sales this time around. This will not only help in the current holiday season, but also better prepare for planning in the year to come.
2. Minimize Back Office Work
High volume sales and extended hours are likely to keep owners from managing the back end of their business in a timely manner. It’s the customer first, everything else later.
Small businesses today should be taking advantage of the myriad technological advancements that ease the burden of handling tasks like accounting, billing, collecting customer data and presenting and automating business transactions.
“It’s important that small business owners understand how to use technology to help manage the needs of their business,” said Laura Miller, president of Ink app from Chase. “These technologies can quickly and easily provide small business owners with more time and flexibility to focus on growing and maintaining the business.”
3. Stay On Top of Sales and Expenses
During this time of the year, things tend to move at a more frenetic pace, which can make it more difficult to stay up-to-the-minute on the daily business tasks. This also means spending more time than usual trying to reconcile checks and balances when you do finally get to it.
This is where automation and technology become a small business owner’s best friends. A product like the Ink app from Chase (available to Ink app from Chase) gives instant notifications of sales and purchases made whenever the card is used.
“It’s important that business owners have the proper tools in place to help support the ongoing needs of their business, since slowing down to tackle these is the last thing today’s small business owners have the time to do,” Miller said.
And for those unexpected, last-minute expenses, the Ink app allows users to snap photos of receipts so they can be tracked by accounting software and not accidentally thrown in the trash or lost amid the shuffle.
4. Develop a Marketing Strategy
It’s important for businesses to stand out among the endless marketing gimmicks and promotions used to entice customers. Instead, small businesses should focus on offering holiday promotions specific to their products and services. Once owners have special loyalty offers in place, they need to figure out how to get them in front of potential customers. Here are a few options.
- Email marketing still proves to be the most effective with the highest conversion rate for owners with a robust email list.
- Social media is also an obvious first step. Initial promotion is free and there are paid options to promote products and services on these sites. Companies may also want to consider ad campaigns through major search engines like Bing and Google. And brick-and-mortar shops should consider offering local in-store promotions.
- Gather customer data to keep them aware of future promotions and offerings. Consider a promotion that offers a discount in exchange for an email address tobuild an email list and repeat customer base.
5. Maintain Momentum
Preparation for the holiday season hopefully leads to less clean up after it ends. There should be no penny unaccounted for at the end of the season. Organization, proper tracking and planned strategies prepared in advance are important to a successful and fruitful holiday season.