Everyone calls it the most wonderful time of the year, but when you run a small business the idea of Christmas can be tiring and challenging. Here’s how to prepare your business for the sales rush.
Take care of your team
The truth of most small businesses is they wouldn’t function properly without a dedicated team behind them. If you’ll be hiring new team members make sure to do it a few weeks before the Christmas rush begins so they have time to settle in and find their feet in your company. It’s likely you’ll have some hard working days ahead and everyone is more motivated when they’re comfortable. Ensuring you provide the best office chairs means your employees (and yourself) will be ready to give that extra mile to get through the season.
Get ahead on social media engagement
Anne Clark is a business coach, strategist and virtual assistant who runs First Step Virtual Assistant. Planning ahead and being prepared are her key strategies and she shared with us her advice on social media around Christmastime.
“Create all your basic content information you regularly share with your audience. You are free to add extra content along the way, such as holiday pictures just for the human touch. Check the calendar to see what key dates are coming up (Christmas Day, New Year Day and Australia Day), and also your business/marketing plan to see what needs to be promoted, and then create the content for posting. Use online scheduling programs to pre-schedule them such as Facebook’s prescheduler (free), Hootesuite (free) -and the likes, OnlyPult for Instagram (paid).
Otherwise, outsource it to a Social Savvy Virtual Assistant to do ALL the above for you! Even better.
Then relax it’s sorted.”
Check out First Step Virtual Assistant on Facebook.
Take care of your customers
How many times have you seen a tired shopper looking like they're about ready to give up and cancel the holiday altogether? Creating an inviting environment for your customers will mean they want to spend more time in store and will likely leave with more of your products. A little extra seating goes a long way for tired feet and stackable bar stools are the perfect way to offer a temporary chair whenever necessary.
Prep early and practice self-care
Simone Walsh Jewellery is an independent, Australian jewellery design business available in Australian and US stores, as well as online. Their founder and creative director, Simone Walsh gave her advice for gearing up a retail business for the Christmas period.
“Our number one tip is: you can never start work too early on Christmas preparations if that's your key selling time. You should expect to devote a large amount of time and effort, starting several months before most people are even vaguely thinking about the festive season. In particular you should work on building up and engaging your customer base well before. The more people you have interested and engaged in what you do in the lead up, the better you're likely to do when it really matters.
As for Simone Walsh Jewellery, Christmas is always by far our busiest time of year for sales. We usually start preparing for the onslaught in earnest in around August: making/assembling stock, brainstorming and creating promotional plans, ensuring our website and images are as good as they can be, topping up stock for the retail outlets we sell through, applying for any Christmas design markets we might want to participate in, encouraging people to join our mailing list or social media profiles, etc.
Our second tip is: don't forget to look after yourself if your small business is flat out at Christmas! We aim to start our own Christmas preparations and gift shopping early so we don't have to worry too much when we're very busy. Plus we try to make life as easy as we can during the busiest periods and we ensure we take some time out to relax whenever we can. Once the 'selling season' is over we usually take some sort of holiday and take it easy for a while before diving into work for the new year.”
Find more on Instagram and Facebook.
Be ready for refunds
They don’t call it the silly season for nothing. There’s a lot of silly gifts that are bought so it’s likely you’ll be dealing with a few returns and refunds. Here’s 3 ways to be ready when it comes to refunds:
1. Make sure your staff are familiar with your returns policy and the customer’s entitlements for change of mind versus faults
2. Check up on your payment system to ensure its refund limit is comparable to the kinds of purchases being made, and that it is in working order
3. Start keeping receipts now so you can verify a customer’s purchase in case their copy is looking worse for wear
If you put the right steps in now the Christmas season can be the most wonderful time for your small business.