How to Prepare Your Small Business for the Holiday Season

Holiday prep for a small business is no joke! While most businesses can expect a healthy small business holiday surge, you can make the best of it with the right prep. 

From perfecting your online shopping process to ensuring employee well-being during the busiest time of year, here’s how to make the most of the holiday season as a small business.

What can you learn from last year?

Start with a visit from the ghost of holiday seasons past. Consult last year’s sales information, website data, and social media metrics to see if there’s anything you can immediately improve on. Check back on notes from the last holiday season. You may have forgotten small changes you wanted to implement for this year.

Go for the goals

Before the rush, take some time to consider what would make this holiday season a success for your business. Is it hitting a sales quota? Getting more customer data? Holding a successful event? 

Consider jotting down a few attainable goals to drive your decisions this season.

Beta test the online customer experience

It may have been a minute since you took a deep dive into your website. Try to make it “unbreakable” before the holiday rush. 

Enlist employees, friends, and families to “shop” your online store as beta testers. Have them note what works, and what doesn’t in the online experience. 

Get online in order

Will sales be dashing through the snow? Or drifting through the sleet?

In addition to improving the website, consider eliminating pain points from the site. For example, if you anticipate an influx of online orders, consider setting up in-store pick-up for local shoppers. This saves you the hassle of getting anywhere near the post office during its busiest times.

Amp up email marketing

With so much happening during the holiday season, don’t let customers second guess what’s going on with your business. 

Even if you don’t typically send out email newsletters, try sending out a few to your email list before and during the holiday shopping season. Include details like restocks, upcoming events, and store hours. Perhaps most importantly, if you offer shipping, craft an email about the last day shoppers can purchase an item and guarantee delivery before Christmas.

Scale up operations

Anticipating an uptick in sales? How will your inventory handle this increase? 

Before the holiday rush, communicate with suppliers about shipping times or consider over-ordering inventory so you don’t lose out on sales.  

…But create some contingencies

Want to avoid a fa-la-la-la-la-freakout?

Things can (and will) go awry, despite the best-laid plans. Jot down some contingency plans in the event things go wrong with your small business over the holiday season. 

For example, in the event of a shipping snafu that means customers won’t get a product before the holiday, have something ready to send to customers, a sort of “IOU” card they can print out and share in lieu of the gift they ordered. Or, have a discount code prepped for shoppers with delayed shipments. 

Plan your schedule in advance

The holiday season is busy for everyone, including your employees. Take time to plan the holiday schedule well in advance, asking that teammates put in time off requests with plenty of time before the season begins. 

Having the schedule out early can set everyone up for success, giving everyone lots of time to swap shifts if need be. 

Employee refresh

The end of year can be taxing for everyone in a small business, from employees to owners. Before the hectic times start, have an all-staff meeting to set expectations, unwind, and prepare everyone to face another season. 

In the meeting, take some time to retrain the team, especially if you’ve grown since last year. A quick refresh can help avoid issues when you’re busy, and alleviate stress for your team. 

It’s also important to talk to your team about self-care during this time of year. You don’t want to drive anyone to the point of exhaustion or lose employees because they work too hard over November and December. 

Share some self-care strategies to keep everyone in good health until the new year. This includes both mental and physical health.   

Eye operating hours

Baby, it’s cold outside! And changing operating hours last minute might just frustrate shoppers. If you can, take time before the season begins and decide if you’ll do extended hours. If you are, make sure you can properly staff them and ensure that shoppers are aware you’re changing store times. 

Decorate to add cheer

You don’t need to deck the halls, but you might want to add a touch of cheer here and there to get visitors in the mood. Having a bit of fun with holiday theming can boost the mood for both employees and shoppers. 

But there’s no need to go overboard. Adding too much to your space could create visual clutter, making it harder for guests to find what they need. 

Add a holiday sale

The best way to spread holiday cheer is by offering discounts to shoppers far and near… right?

Holiday shopping at small businesses can be a crowded space. To entice new shoppers, a sale or promotion can do just the trick. 

But instead of waiting until the season is nearly over to decide on a sale, plan your promotion ahead of time. Put together collateral, brainstorm copy, and select discounts long before the event begins. 

Planning this all ahead of time can reduce the stress you may feel in the moment, making drawing in new business as simple as hitting send.

Take time to check in

The holiday shopping season isn’t all sugar plum fairies and fun. For the small business owner, this time of year can be exhausting and stressful.

Make it a goal to set aside time every week for a personal check-in. Use the time to revisit the schedule, check the sales numbers, or just take a few deep breaths. Giving yourself some space to breathe can help the season go more smoothly.

Getting ready for the holidays can feel overwhelming, but that’s where we come in. From accepting online payments to employee management, Get Beyond’s solutions help you manage your operations, so you can get back to doing what you love. 

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