Last year, approximately 112 million shoppers spent money at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, a 13% increase from 2015. This year’s Small Business Saturday is just around the corner (November 25, 2017), and the holidays will be here before you know it!
If you own a small business, it’s not too late to start preparing for the holiday rush. It’s important to be prepared for the season so you can maximize your business and spend some quality time with family and friends. Here are 5 ways to ensure you’re ready for the rush:
The holidays get very busy, very quickly. It’s easy to lose track of your inventory when products are flying off the shelves. Falling behind with your inventory management can be a real headache when you finally do have time to catch up on your accounting. Take the time to keep your inventory system updated to save time in the long run. If you’re still manually managing your inventory, now might be the perfect time to implement an inventory system so you can focus on managing the business through the rush.
While it’s critical to manage inventory quantity, it’s equally important to stock the right inventory. Be sure to stock up on potentially popular items. Not sure where to start? Take a look at last year’s sales to see what sold well and what was hard to move. As you’re reviewing your inventory, create a holiday “gift guide” of your top sellers. You can share this guide with customers in-store and online as part of your holiday marketing strategy.
Depending on your business and industry, you may need to add a few seasonal employees during the holiday season to handle the uptick in business. Extended business hours may allow additional overtime for some employees. Perhaps you kindly offer holiday bonuses to your team.
These adjustments will impact your payroll, and some may change requirements to maintain tax compliance. Be organized—keep track of time off requests, seasonal help and approved overtime. It’s important to keep track of these payroll adjustments to prevent confusion down the road. Cloud payroll solutions like Gusto make it easy to stay organized and payout all your employees on time.
Treat Customers with Offers
Providing customers with offers and incentives is great for them, and will drive traffic into your store and onto your website. Customers have more options than ever when they’re making a purchase, and a lot of gifts to buy. Don’t assume they’ll come straight to you!
With options to purchase in-store and online, there are now countless ways to offer discounts that benefit both you and the customer. You can test various methods such as “Limited Time Only”, “Online Only” and “In-Store Only” offers. Get creative to find what works best for your business!
And, don’t forget to offer gift certificates—these make for quick and easy holiday shopping for the undecided customer.
As a business owner, it’s critical that you keep track of all the changes the holiday season brings to your business. It’s equally as important to communicate all relevant changes with your clients! Customers aren’t concerned with your payroll adjustments, per se, but they will be interested to know your holiday hours of operation, inventory, shipping deadlines and special offers.
Pro Tip: Update your Google Business Listing with your holiday information, such as hours and shipping deadlines, so customers can see them immediately when they search for your business. Multiple locations? No problem – you can manage them all.
There are a ton of ways to communicate with your clients. Email and Social Media Marketing are two ways to quickly and easily engage with your customers. Social media is becoming more and more powerful as a business marketing tool, especially for B2C businesses, by the day.
Experiment with Instagram posts and stories, and test out Facebook live. You can even create custom Snapchat filters. Outline your target audience, top five products and marketing budget to determine which outlets are best for your business.
Efficient Accounting is Crucial
Holidays are busy, busy, busy! Business increases alongside time off requests and family visits. It’s easy for your accounting tasks, such as bill pay and account reconciliations, to be pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Similar to losing track of your inventory, falling behind in the back office can make for an unpleasant experience when you finally do have time to catch up.
Fortunately, digital tools make it easy to automate your accounting and finance functions. Utilize the cloud to manage your accounting and bookkeeping in one place and streamline processes and to help increase efficiency and save you time.
While the holidays are busy, they don’t have to be stressful! Keep your books organized, track your inventory and payroll adjustments, engage with clients and enjoy time off with friends and family.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted on November 23, 2016 and has been completely updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.