“Holidays are coming” goes the well-known jingle. It seems that no matter the time of year, there’s always a seasonal event around the corner which is going to hit retail and service workers head-on.
Whether you’re fearing Black Friday, avoiding thinking about Christmas or dreading the back-to-school rush, there’s always something you can do to make your business life a little easier (we promise).
Provided you have a little advance on the season – preparation makes perfect – you can not only cope, but thrive the next time you’re looking at the calendar with a lump in your throat.
Go forth, use our tips and conquer the seasonal retail rush.
Double, triple and quadruple check your stock
You never want to over-order and be stuck with a backroom full of products or produce you can’t shift. On the other hand, being short of something your customers are clamouring for is enough to make you grit your teeth.
Try to be analytical about what you’ll need. If you’ve been selling for a few years, look at previous years’ records and measure the kind of uplift in sales and footfall you saw around seasonal periods.
You might notice a pattern – do you get a steady 10% increase in custom over the weeks leading up to a big seasonal holiday, or do you see a large spike just days before the big calendar event? By finding your pattern you can better predict where your focuses will need to lie.
Look to see where you can easily increase conversions
In seasonal periods when consumers are trained to want to spend more, now is the time when you might convince them to add something extra to their basket. One tactic is to use small add-ons, which aren’t off-putting and will appeal to a larger majority of present buyers ready to tick recipients off their list.
It’s not just about pushing the big ticket items – small purchases and multibuys can be an easy way to push up your spend-per-customer and boost your overall revenue. For ideas, see our 9 retails rules for making your customers spend more.
Get staffed up
As a small business owner you might be willing to work around the clock to see that the shop floor is stocked, your online orders are filled and any other outstanding jobs get completed come rain or shine.
However, your staff may not feel the same. In fact, even if they are completely willing to pitch in and get their hands dirty, you need to think about who you’ll need around you to help get the job done. Will you need to increase working hours? Will you have a rota that needs tweaking to suit customers’ availability? Perhaps you’ll need to hire a temporary worker, or several, to see you through a busy spell – in which case you’ll want to start advertising and interviewing in advance so you have a better chance of finding a suitable hire.
Find where your weak link is
If there are any cracks in the veneer, you’ll notice them grow bigger when put under the strain of a bustling seasonal patch.
What’s holding you or your customers back? Perhaps your point of sale technology is in need of an update and takes a while to process sales (in other words, it’s causing queues on the shop floor). Perhaps your staff aren’t trained to attend to customers quickly enough, so they end up waiting. Maybe your online shop is hot on its stock but delivery times are disappointing – all pain points that can reduce profits and increase customer and employee dissatisfaction.
Find and fix the weak link now to reduce the chances of snapping when put under pressure.
Prep your store, prep your stock, but most importantly, prep yourself
Chances are you’ll be so busy thinking about your business and getting caught up in the season, you might forget about yourself.
It could be any little thing that makes a huge difference to your mind-set: if you’re on your feet all day, get comfy hard-wearing shoes that won’t give out before you do. Mark out a day off in advance (and let your staff know) so you have time to enjoy the holiday season, particularly if you want to spend time with family and friends. Perhaps you need to set holiday specific working hours if you think you’ll be working overtime, or plan to reduce your hours in the post-seasonal lull to compensate.
Remember, if you’re tired you’re more likely to make mistakes and increase your stress levels, which can lead to poor health (think you’re a workaholic? Tackle the problem with these tips).