Left holiday planning to the last minute? There are still plenty of ways to set your small business up for success this season.
Being locked and loaded for the end-of-year rush is a massive opportunity for small businesses. It’s a chance to lock in a successful year, build a base of customers for the future, and take your marketing efforts to the next level.
1. Prepare early
Some people like Aimee start preparing for the holiday season as early as June or July.
Others, like Larissa, feel like it’s a year-round process. “As a small business owner that hand makes everything in my shop, I find I’m never really finished preparing: it’s a never-ending cycle,” said Larissa.
2. Stay organized and plan in advance
Planning in advance and staying organized will help you feel on top of things during a chaotic holiday season. “I plan well in advance, taking into account the four-week curing time for soap,” said Aimee. “This means forecasting demand and production needs for both retail and wholesale and making sure that supplies are well stocked before the busy production season in late spring and early summer,” she said.
“I personally use OneNote on my computer and phone to keep track of my endless to-do and shopping lists to keep me on track, and I set labelled alarms on my phone all the time to avoid missing deadlines,” said Larissa.
3. Offer gift cards and holiday-themed products
Offering a limited-edition or holiday-themed product is a great way to boost sales this season. “At Christmas, I like to make extra pendants with dried spruce and cedar for that festive vibe,” said Larissa.
And gift cards are great for last-minute shoppers, said Aimee. “This tip is major if your stock levels are low or shipping times are long,” she said.
4. Clearly communicate with customers and clients
“Clear communication is key,” said Aimee. “I keep my wholesale clients informed about lead times and potential backorders. Most understand that handmade products take time…it’s okay to have occasional backorders or waiting times, especially when dealing with handmade products. Most clients will appreciate the quality and effort you put into your work,” said Aimee.
5. Use social media to drive sales
One of Aimee’s tips is to “ramp up your social media presence with holiday-themed posts and ads.” Try to use your social media platforms to become a resource for your community by giving them something helpful they can use this holiday season, like a gift guide. This will help build momentum and drive customers to your business.
6. Maintain excellent customer service and quality control
“Despite the rush, I never compromise on the quality of my products,” said Aimee. “Maintaining high standards is crucial for long-term success.”
According to Aimee, high standards for quality control and customer service are recipes for success. This will create a positive shopping experience for your customers, encouraging them to return.
Try to have a strategy encouraging return customers by offering loyalty programs, coupons, or exclusive sales to keep them coming back long after the holiday rush has subsided.
7. Rest and recharge
Don’t forget to enjoy the holidays yourself! “You have to put in the extra time and effort to do well in the busy seasons – and then enjoy a nice vacation to celebrate afterwards!” said Larissa. “When things slow down a little after the busy season, I make sure to take time to relax and recharge.”
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