19 Oct Top 5 Ways to Prep your Small Business for the Holiday Rush
Sleighbells. Cranberry sauce. Christmas trees. Dreidels. The holidays are fast approaching and, for a small business, they are technically already here. If you’re just reading this, you literally have days to get in to gear. Act now!
The holiday season is defined by the National Retail Federation as sales in the months of November and December. However, 40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween each year. Without a doubt, this season is the biggest time of year for retailers of all shapes and sizes, and can account for as much as 30 percent of your annual sales.
If they’ve adhered to the 5 tips below, in our line of work, we have seen the following small businesses truly thrive during the holiday season: photography studios, travel/hospitality, video games/software, restaurants, apparel stores, food and confectionery, appliance stores, craft/hobby stores and liquor stores/bars.
In 2014, holiday shoppers spent an average of $802 on gifts, decorations, food and other holiday-related expenses, compared to $767 spent in 2013. Historical trends show that average holiday spending over the past 10 years is $740 per person.
Simply stated, a small business would be foolish not to take advantage of every person’s over-indulgence and over-consumption during the last few months of the year.
So, here are our 5 must-do tips for small businesses for the holiday season.
1. Stock up on Inventory
It is vital that you build your inventory of products BEFORE your customers buy them or before they even express interest in buying them. If not, you’re sure to miss out on the 30% of sales that could make your year.
Lifetime Jewelry, a California-based online retailer of high-end gold jewelry, contacted Global Business Lending in September for a lump sum of cash in order to get inventory ready for their Christmas rush.
“We need 2 months to make it happen. It’s going to be very large volume this year. We were caught flat-footed last year and we didn’t want that to happen to us again,” said Lifetime co-owner Karen Kueter.
If you make your products by hand like Lifetime does, it will be especially beneficial to make the most popular items ahead of time. Be sure to analyze sales from past years to determine which products to keep on-hand and in what quantities.
David M. Burrows, vice president of Cinsay Inc., a corporate marketing and PR firm, emphasizes the importance of offering something exclusive: “something that sets you apart from your competition in terms of selection, availability, or pricing.”
For Lifetime, it’s their special proprietary formula for plating their gold jewelry as well as their products’ lifetime guarantee.
Dart Reed, Funding Disbursement Manager at Global Business Lending, says during the holidays businesses stock up on everything from raw materials to supplies and prefer to save money by buying wholesale.
“We have helped businesses during this season who are trying to meet their quota for the end of the year or need working capital to take advantage of bulk pricing on inventory and equipment,” said Reed.
2. Offer Holiday Discounts
The big guys aren’t ashamed to do it. From Halloween to Veteran’s Day to Thanksgiving to Black Friday to Cyber Monday, the retail giants use any excuse to offer their customers a discount. You would be wise to do the exact same thing! The big guys aren’t ashamed to do it. From Halloween to Veteran’s Day to Thanksgiving to Black Friday to Cyber Monday, the retail giants use any excuse to offer their customers a discount. You would be wise to do the exact same thing!
In fact, discounts and promotions are great ways to draw in new customers. Offer coupon codes for free shipping or discounts on products and services for first-time customers.
Because everyone’s budgets are tight around the holidays with so many friends and relatives to buy presents for, be willing to lose a little to gain a LOT! Reward your loyal customers with coupon codes so they’ll save when they come back to buy holiday gifts from you instead of from your competitors.
Starting promotion as early as November 1 is what Erika Penzer Kerekes, senior product manager of Deluxe Corporation, suggests in order to grab these clients in time.
This means, set aside specific marketing dollars NOW to promote your holiday specials.
3. Get a Quick Cash Advance for your Business
While consumers are making plans to spruce up their homes, buy cars as big gifts or even book travel packages, small businesses have to be ready to receive the influx of customers that will come within the next two months.
The surest way to be ready is to have a lump sum of cash on hand and Global Business Lending can get you the working capital you need within 2-3 business days. You don’t have to worry about your credit score or your time in business as qualification criteria either! These cash advance offers are contingent only on the basis of your business’s revenue.
Maybe it’s $10,000 for a huge batch of Christmas trees if you’re a tree reseller, $5,000 for holiday marketing or $50,000 for special equipment that can cut your manufacturing time in half during your busiest season of the year, it’s up to you to ensure that you use your business loan for the business-related expense that will offer you the best return on investment.
This is especially huge for online retailers. Ecommerce holiday sales are expected to make up a quarter of all online sales made over the entire year. This trend of shoppers turning to online stores for their holiday shopping presents a great opportunity for small business e-retailers to increase their profits during this season, but you’ve got to be ready to pay for a large volume of inventory before your customers place multiple orders.
If you can forsee the need for a lump sum of cash for your business, get pre-approved now at Global Business Lending.
4. Small Business Saturday
So, we all know there’s a huge sales weekend built around the Thanksgiving holiday in America. Every business should take advantage of that weekend. Go for large sales volumes by discounting your products and services on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
But don’t forget Small Business Saturday!
It’s been only 6 years since it’s been an officially recognized day in the United States but a lot of people still don’t know that they customers are encouraged to “shop small” on that day. It was a way to counter the imbalance of power as many consumers are inclined to buy at big department stores that weekend. This federal-sanctioned day encourages individuals to shop locally – that means with you!
In fact, there are quite a few local events in your area where you can have a presence and establish face-to-face relationships with your customers. By participating in events you care about and ones that can benefit both your business and the community, you set yourself apart from competitors and create a personal touch with clients.
5. Hire Seasonal Workers
Every September, retailers ready their stores for crowds but they shouldn’t forget that “more customers mean more staffing.” Prepare your business now by hiring extra staff.
Seasonal hires can be brought in for a number of roles: supervisory work, stocking new inventories, managing distribution and fulfillment centers and serving as customer service representatives.
“At our company, we see how frustrated small businesses get when they don’t have enough hands to handle the business that’s coming in. We offer these businesses a quick solution,” said Reed. “If you need to perform a mass hiring for the anticipated holiday rush, we’ll provide you with the capital you need to sustain your holiday payroll.”
In 2015, the NRF predicted retailers would fill between 700,000 and 750,000 new seasonal positions. In addition to seasonal positions, retail indirectly creates many jobs throughout the holiday season for workers in transportation, manufacturing and fulfillment.
Additionally, people even take time off from work during the holidays so developing an employee holiday schedule with firm scheduled times for regular employees as well as “on-call” team members can make things a lot easier.
Use #HolidaySales #SmallBusinessSaturday for social media.