How Your Business Can Survive and Thrive During the Holiday Season
The holiday rush can act as a litmus test for your company. It can show if you are prepared and capable enough to make it. Can you handle a sudden surge in clientele and orders? Can you manage unexpected schedule changes, delayed shipments, rude customers, or low employee productivity? Can your promotional materials even compete with the myriad of ads fighting for visibility? Any good business needs to answer these questions before they step into the ring.
For businesses that fell short last year, this season can be a way to recoup losses. Now that we know a little bit more about the market, we can identify potential issues that will arise. Below you will find tips and tricks that will help to safeguard the wellbeing of your business during the holiday craze.
The biggest issue with the holiday season is that it is a period of high demand and potentially reduced staff. This can lead to serious issues with the operation of your business. Consider creating a special holiday schedule in which employees can clearly show when and how long they will be taking off. Managing vacation time can prove to be one of the hardest aspects of the season. However, even if you put in a policy that asks workers to report time off weeks or months in advance, you should still expect spontaneous absences during the holidays.
Adding on seasonal workers can also help to reduce the strain on both your business and your regular staff. There are many benefits to hiring a holiday staff. The extra hands can improve productivity, since most workers looking to be re-hired next year are going to put in the extra effort. The best part, you don’t have to continue paying them after the rush has ended. In effect, seasonal workers act as a low-risk investment with the potential to drastically improve your workforce.
However, there are some tradeoffs. For one, the training period can eat up a big chunk of the time you need them for. If your new driver spends half the season just learning the routes, then he is not going to be a very efficient worker. You can weed this out during the hiring period, and only hire experienced staff, but this may prove to be difficult to find. Another thing to consider is that some seasonal workers might not have the same drive or incentive as your long-term staff. Workers that know they will be let go at the end of the season may not be very motivated to go the extra mile.
If you are planning to add more staff to your team for the holidays, hire early, as all the good candidates will be scooped up first.
While everyone likes a good gift during the holidays, knowing what gift to give is the major question. Do you offer Black Friday discounts? Maybe a two-for-one special during Cyber Monday. You have many options when it comes to your holiday promotions.
I suggest you think creatively, and avoid the basic discounts you often see advertised. Instead, try a free gift with orders over a certain total. We at QQ Studio ran a successful campaign where we gave away a free tote bag with orders over $75. Free shipping can also be a game-changer during the holidays. If you don’t currently offer free shipping, consider giving it a try this year. Free shipping allows shoppers to save money without devaluing the product. Free shipping is expected today, and if you don’t offer it, that may be a deal-breaker for some shoppers.
Check the Calendar
It's easy to mistake Christmas as the end-all-be-all of the holiday times. However, there are several holidays to be aware of between the start of November and the end of December. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Giving Tuesday, and Green Monday to name a few. There are also other dates that aren’t quite holidays, but important to keep track of. December 14 is the last day items can be shipped by USPS Retail Ground, FedEx Ground, or UPS Ground if you want the item to arrive before Christmas. December 20th is the last day for USPS Priority Mail, FedEx 2 Day, and UPS 2nd Day Air. Then you have your standard Christmas, Hanukah, Thanksgiving, and of course, Boxing Day to worry about. You need to be aware of all of these dates to maximize your content and promotional material. Be especially aware and transparent about shipment times. Shoppers need to know if an item will arrive before or after their preferred holiday, and if you burn them, they are not likely to ever shop with you again.
Keep Spirits High
While the holiday season is marketed as a time of joy and giving, we all know it’s the most stressful time of the year. This is true for both consumers and businesses alike. Nevertheless, if you follow the advice found here, it should be manageable. One of the most crucial aspects is that you start early. For more information on when to start prepping, see this blog. If you need more tips on how to prepare for the holidays, you can check out this guide. Start early and be prepared. You never know what the wind will bring.