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Four Proven Marketing Tips for Restaurants to Implement During the Holidays

The holidays are a joyous and busy time for many, but some restaurants owners see a decline in business during the winter months. One source found that as many as 61% of restaurants reported a decline of up to 20% in patrons and sales during this time.

There are a multitude of reasons that sales can be down, ranging from cold weather which discourages patrons from leaving their homes and times spent indoors with family rather than out and about. A holiday decline does not have to affect your restaurant, however, if you strategize with carefully crafted marketing holiday marketing tips to drive customers to your business!

Holiday-Themed Menu

People love to feel festive during the holidays, which is why adding a holiday-themed menu can draw people to your restaurant. Consider offering family-friendly meals that your patrons can eat in or take to enjoy at home. Offering family-sized meals makes it convenient for your customers to quickly order without having to deliberate on what items and amounts to get.

Add holiday-themed foods to your menu to appeal to your patrons’ palates! Holiday favorites, such as turkey, egg nog and stuffing are always a hit! Get creative with adding items and ingredients that your customers may not be familiar with to surprise them and keep them guessing!

Appeal to the smallest patrons by offering foods that can excite them, such as specialty-shaped foods (sandwiches shaped like Christmas trees!), holiday cookies and other treats shipped from the North Pole.

Holiday-Themed Activities

Help your patrons get in the spirit by adding a holiday feel to your restaurant. You can choose specific nights to throw special holiday parties which feature holiday music and a winter wonderland decor.

If you have a family-friendly restaurant, encourage your customers to bring their kids by planning a visit from Santa Claus, as well as arts and craft activities, such as making holiday cards. Advertising a free photo with Santa with every family meal can help your customers save on holiday photos and instead spend their money in your restaurant.

Holiday Specials

The holidays are an expensive time when most of us shop for gifts for family and friends. Help ease the financial burden your patrons may be facing by offering holiday specials and coupons that they will surely appreciate.

Consider tying in an exclusive discount with a charitable cause, which is always important to remember during the holidays. Ask your customers to stop by and leaved canned food for a local food bank or used clothes for a nearby shelter. In exchange for their donation, you can offer a discount on their food purchase or a free item (a drink or dessert) in addition to a paid meal.

Marketing

Once you figure out your holiday menu, decor, activities and specials, you need to share that information with your target audience so that they can be informed about what is going on at your restaurant. Consider the best ways to get their attention and how best to spend your marketing budget.

If your restaurant is located in an area with high traffic, putting up a large sign or poster may suffice. Otherwise, sending in-home mailers to your local patrons or sending out emails through your customer database can be effective.

To stand out from the competition, consider unique ways that you can grab your customers’ attention and encourage them to frequent your business. This can include funny holiday cards to make them laugh or bold online campaigns.

Should you need help to invest in marketing or making your restaurant holiday-friendly, IOU Financial is happy to help. We offer hassle-free small business loans of up to $300,000 in as little as 24-48 hours. Visit our website to get more details about how we can help your restaurant thrive during the holidays and all year round!

4 Proven Ways your Business can cut Costs this Holiday Season

It’s no secret that the holiday season can be a stressful one for business owners. Although it is a time to reflect, be grateful and celebrate, some businesses see a decline in sales, which, coupled with typical employee raises and bonuses during this time, can make it a financially burdensome time for owners. However, there are ways your business can cut costs this holiday season with these four proven strategies:

Adjust Employee Schedules

While some companies experience their busiest seasons during this time, others aren’t so lucky. Colder weather prevents many people from shopping and dining out, while holidays encourage others to spend time with family indoors.

It’s not uncommon to enter a store, restaurant or hair salon during November, December and January to find them empty. There is no reason to commit to paying salaries when there is no business, which is why you should plan to adjust your staff’s schedules during this time.

Analyze your past few years and determine your slowest times and how many employees you actually need working at a time. Just be sure to provide your staff with enough warning so that they are not surprised about their reduced hours.

Cut Down or Eliminate Your Holiday Party

Holiday parties are annual traditions for many businesses, but they can also get expensive. Although it is important to show your employees how much you appreciate them during this time, consider ways to do more cost effectively.

Instead of taking out your staff members to a restaurant or renting out a banquet hall, move the festivities to your office or business space. A meeting room or lunch area can be enough space to share a meal.

Instead of catering food, ask your employees to bring in their favorite dish, arranging a potluck. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can still cut costs by hosting a breakfast instead of a dinner. Bringing in bagels and cream cheese is a lot more affordable than catering dinner!

Introduce Secret Santa

Business owners always want to make their employees feel special by showering them with gifts around the holiday time. Even if you try to be frugal, these expenses add up to be hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Try something different this year to cut costs by introducing Secret Santa. Write down all of your employees’ names on pieces of paper and put them in a bucket or hat. Ask each staffer to pull out a name and purchase a present for that person. Set limits on the presents to be no more than $20 or $40 each. This way, every individual in your company goes home with a gift, but your company has saved a significant amount of money.

Focus on Free Marketing

One of the most expensive strategies during the holidays tends to be marketing. Businesses that offer specials during this time want to spread the word to their customers, and the way to do that is through marketing.

To be cost sensitive during this time, consider ways to market without breaking the bank. For example, you can email holiday cards and announcements to your customers absolutely free instead of spending funds on printing and mailing them!

If you have tried all of these strategies, but are still finding it difficult to sustain your business during the holiday time, turn to IOU Financial. We make it a priority to support small and medium-sized companies with easy loans up to $300,000. You can get funded in as little as 24-48 hours.

Getting Your Finances Organized Before the Holidays

It happens every year. The holiday season is suddenly upon you, and yet your business is not in optimal condition to take full advantage of this very special time of the year – shopping season!

Getting an Early Jump

The best way to extract maximum profits from holiday shopping is to have a large inventory of items that will be hot sellers in the last two months of the year. To some extent, this can be a test of your predictive powers, because normally you will have to decide what to order, and then order it, about six months in advance if you want to be sure of receiving what promises to be the season’s blockbusters.

Therefore, you must combine budgetary and marketing data to make reasonable forecasts of:

  1. How much sales volume I want to achieve during the holidays?
  2. What merchandize do I want to stock this holiday season?
  3. How aggressively can I set prices to fight for holiday sales?
  4. How should I spruce up the shop to get customers into the holiday buying mood?
  5. Will I need temporary workers, and if so, how many and what types?
  6. How will I store the early shipments of holiday merchandise I receive? Will I need to rent temporary warehouse space?

There are many other questions you can ask, but this is a good start.

The outcome of this brainstorming should be any changes to your 12-month budget, laid out month by month.

Strengthen Your Working Capital

Next, examine your current debt situation. Do you owe money from last year? What interest rate are you paying on existing debt? What’s happened to interest rates in the last 12 months? Check your working capital situation – you’ll need plenty of cash and credit to finance holiday inventory, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time managing accounts payable for a lot of different vendor accounts. With sufficient cash on hand, you can pay vendors right away and benefit from purchase discounts. The answer is to consolidate your debt through a low-cost commercial loan. It’s much easier to manage a single creditor rather than contend with demands from a gaggle of vendors and creditors. That way you don’t have to spend much time figuring payments, because we will debit small amounts every day from your bank account. This removes the pain and worry you might feel if you had to face a large monthly payment.

To order sufficient inventory in, say, June, when sales may be weaker due to the summer doldrums, may put quite a strain on your working capital at precisely the wrong time. The easiest solution is a business loan form a commercial lender such as IOU Financial. By consolidating your old loans and adding fresh borrowings to the mix, you have the opportunity to optimize your debt and your working capital for the upcoming holiday season.

Get Your Technology Up to Speed

If you are not happy with your current accounting and point-of-sale software, well before holiday season is the time to either fix it or replace it. If you find any part of your current system holding you back from tracking real-time sales, shipping and restocking activity, it might be time for new solutions. You will also want to ensure you have installed the new chip-card readers throughout your store, so that you bypass any liability for fraud caused by lost, stolen or counterfeit credit/debit cards. Estimates are of about $450 to install each new card-reading terminal, so make sure you figure this expenditure into your budget.

The bottom line – you want to have sufficient funds ahead of the holiday season in order to optimize your revenues once the end-of-year frenzy gets under way. If you need any additionally working capital, contact IOU Financial and learn how quick and easy it is to whip your finances in shape for the lucrative holiday season.

Four Proven Marketing Strategies for the Holidays

The holiday season is the perfect time for businesses to attract new clientele and connect with existing customers. With buyers scouring for Christmas presents, many stores experience a significant surge in sales. Service-oriented companies, such as gyms and beauty salons, report an influx of new customers around January, when people make New Year’s resolutions to get in shape or become better versions of themselves. All in all, the holidays are a great time to market your services to potential customers by utilizing the following four proven strategies:

Charitable Giving

Thanksgiving and Christmas are popular times for donations to local shelters, philanthropic organizations and community events. Companies can combine doing a good deed with a marketing advantage by making a donation to a charity or sponsoring a local soup kitchen event.

Allowing the community to associate your company’s name with giving creates a positive view of your brand, encouraging them to shop with you during the following year.

Holiday Cards

Everyone loves getting a holiday card from a friend or family member, but there is no rule that holiday cards can’t be sent from businesses. Realtors are already aware of this strategy, sending holiday cards to potential and past clients to increase loyalty and foster customer relationships.

Sending holiday cards to your existing roster of clients and surrounding residents creates an emotional connection between you and your customers, which has been proven to increase brand loyalty and increase sales.

Keep in mind that your customers may celebrate different religious holidays, so sending a generic holiday card rather than one specific for Christmas may be more advantageous to avoid offending anyone.

Utilize Holiday-Themed SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) should always be a priority in your marketing campaign. The holidays are a great time to re-evaluate your target keywords and add holiday-themed alternatives to help potential clients find you.

Keywords such as “holiday gifts,” “unique Christmas presents,” “ugly sweaters” and “corporate holiday gifts” trend around the end of the year. Utilize these keywords in your pay-per-click (PPC) Google campaigns and in the content of your website and blogs to capitalize on seasonal searches.

Holiday Events

People love to attend holiday events where they feel jolly and get in the spirit of the holiday season. This is the perfect time for businesses to open their doors, encouraging new clients to learn more about them and regular clients to feel appreciated.

Consider hosting an annual holiday party for your top customers to wine and dine them and help them feel valued by your company. You can also host a holiday open house at a salon, store or restaurant attracting families with a visit and photos with Santa and his elves, free cookie decorating events and carolling.

Whatever event you plan for your business, focus on using that time to help visitors connect with your company, learn more about your products and services and create an emotional connection with your brand.

The holiday season can be a strenuous time for business owners as it calls for a lot of expenses. IOU Financial is committed to helping you during this and any other time with an affordable business loan. Get instant pre-approval and funding in as little as 24-48 hours!

Should My Business Participate in Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday (CM), the Monday after Thanksgiving that promotes online shopping, has become almost as important as Thanksgiving and Black Friday in terms of holiday sales. In 2016, CM sales increased by 12.1 percent year over year, reaching a volume of $3.45 billion. That’s a higher sales volume than experienced on 2016 Black Friday. There is nothing to prohibit online sellers from participating throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, but CM is the day set aside for the biggest online promotions. The question of whether your small business should aggressively compete for CM business turns on several considerations:

What is your online presence?

If you don’t have a website, or if the website has problems, it’s getting late to make it work right. You certainly don’t want to be out there on CM with an untested or buggy site – it’s much better to perfect the website before using it. You’ll be better off by opening a page on Etsy or Amazon this year and then promote your website next yet.

What do you sell?

The extended Thanksgiving selling season favors products over services, with perhaps the exception of travel. Certain merchandise has historically seen strong sales on CM, such as laptops, cellphones, data storage, clothing, and beauty products. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t participate on CM with different types of merchandise – it’s ultimately your call.

Can you afford CM?

The purpose of CM is to achieve a sales spike. That means you might need extra merchandise and extra labor. Depending on your size, this might not be a major consideration. However, if you are a bigger business, you might have to prepare for CM by purchasing extra inventory and hiring additional part-time workers. If you anticipate significant costs in this regard, consider taking a loan from IOU Financial – the terms are fair, the money is available quickly, and you repay a small amount in daily or weekly increments instead of facing a largely monthly payment.

Can you absorb promotion costs?

Sure, on CM you can sell your most popular items for 90 percent off and make a big splash. Can you afford such an aggressive promotion? Is it overkill, or is it a reasonable response to your competitors? Do you sell a product mix that encourages repeat shopping? If so, getting folks to place their first online order with you might be worth an upfront loss. On the other hand, if you give away the store, you might not survive until next year’s CM. It comes down to sales projections, budgets, and cash. You can prepare for just about any promotion if you start early enough, but spontaneous last-minute promotions might leave you in a cash crunch.

Engage social media.

Activate your pages on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn and so forth to promote your CM sales. Ads on these pages are cheap and can be very effective. If you maintain a customer email list, prepare to ramp up a few days before Thanksgiving and again on CM. Services like MailChimp can help you set up and execute an email strategy – it’s not expensive but requires some preparation, so don’t wait until the last minute.

Try to establish closer relationships with new customers:

Hopefully, your CM promotions will draw in first-time customers. Besides adding them to your mailing list, do something extra to help cement your relationship with them. You might send them special offers or coupons as a thank you for shopping with you.

If you fit the CM profile, go for it! After all, you do want to increase sales, don’t you? Need to get a handle on your budget before the big day? Check out our Business Budget Smart Sheet. 

Extra Inventory From the Holidays? 6 Ways to Use it Now and Plan for Next Year’s Product

Holiday sales for any business can have a major impact on how the next year begins. Anticipating for the rush can sometimes leave small and big business with excess inventory and decisions to make with what to do with it now, as well as what to do next year to avoid over-ordering. By following some simple steps, businesses can learn what to do with their current inventory excess and how to better plan for the next season’s holiday rush.  Paying attention to 6 key ways to use extra inventory can keep any business in the black.

Save It: Sure sounds easy and simple. Almost too simple. But if your product or business is in a position to hang onto the inventory for the following year, or for another time to sell, then try and store it. It may be wise to save it for a rainy day.

  • Next Year: Try and use some inventory from this season for the next if the product can withstand a year of consumer shift. Order less of the “new” next year and mix in current with latest product on the shelves.

Sell as “Bundled” Package Deals: Consumers love great products and they love feeling like they are getting a steal of a deal. So, if you can, bundle some of the extra products into a “package” deal for a limited time offer. Combine items and lower the cost per item for a nice price point and great bundled offer. Consumers will benefit from a “deal” and you will move more than one product off the shelves.

  • Next Year: Start by selling bundled deals from “last season” next to the latest product at a slightly higher price. Consumers may not buy the new product but will quick to grab the “last season” product at a sale price.

Offer Discounts Next Year: Who doesn’t love a deal? So, why not offer a double win for a consumer? Offer your product with the added benefit of an automatic discount on ANY item or product the next season. Consumers like to know they will get something now and like even more the idea of added benefit the next year. If your product is one that consistently is updated, the offer alone will create some buzz for this and years to come.

  • Next Year: Consider how many products were sold with the current offer and the offer for the following year when you go to place new inventory orders. By looking at how many consumers purchased that deal this year, you can better assess how much you will need.

Create Promotions: Current products make great promotional items. Offer consumers a “free” product with purchase of another. If the product is one that can go well with other purchases or even be used as a promotional item at an event, raffle, give –away, and beyond, then the price you “eat” may be good for future business and getting your unused product in the market. Promotions are a solid way to grow your brand and product.

  • Next Year:  Factor in any promotional items you may use and reduce purchasing any promotional items this year. Use what you have and refrain from ordering any other marketing or promotional items if you have inventory on hand.

Slash Prices: Sales sell goods. If you can offer a great discount and cut prices on your products, it’s a great way to get buyers to take your extra inventory. Think about all the extra holiday lights, artificial trees, and snowman wrapping paper that go on sale the day after Christmas. Jump on the price slashing bandwagon and throw one heck of a holiday deal.

  • Next Year: Anticipate this tactic and use to your advantage. See what goes the fastest once you slash the prices and consider the profit made from this. If it’s a good solid money maker, ordering a little extra for this same reason next year may be a good move.

Inventory Liquidator: Not the first choice by any stretch, but if you find yourself in a major pickle then go with a liquidation service-but be cautious. Be aware of the risks to your product integrity and brand name. For some this is a last resort option but if you need to move a lot and reduce the bleeding this may be an option to consider.

  • Next Year: Run the numbers of this years liquidation and forecasted sales to see if you can withstand this same hit the following year. If it’s too close to call, order less and start to consider ideas for back order deals or offers.

Business owners know the ups and downs of planning for the holidays and strategic planning of ordering inventory. However when that inventory doesn’t sell in the current year, the worry and stress to move that product rises. By implementing the above 6 ways to use that extra inventory now and plan for next year’s product, business owners can tackle the holiday rush with a smile and game plan.  Nobody said Santa Claus couldn’t come to town all season long.

Increase Sales in 2017 with a Solid Marketing Plan

Every business owner hopes that the upcoming year will be more successful than the last; but instead of just  hoping, entrepreneurs can create plans to ensure those goals are met. New product launches, expansion and franchising are common way to increase sales, but they are risky and costly. However, implementing a new or improved marketing strategy can benefit a business at a lower cost, or can be budgeted for easily.

What are the Benefits of Marketing?

Blue Cow Creative lists several benefits of marketing, including promoting brand recognition, advertising your services or products to customers, selecting which clients to target, and allowing you to communicate with those individuals in a timely manner.

The bottom line is that a business can offer the most innovative product, or the most cost-effective service, but without marketing the offerings to their intended audience, no sales will follow.

What are the Most Effective Forms of Marketing?

There are a multitude of marketing strategies; there is the traditional, interruption marketing, which interrupts an individual’s day with a cold call, or a television program they are watching with a commercial. Another alternative is permission marketing, which only targets the individuals who give their consent to be contacted.

Research has proven time and time again that permission marketing is not only more cost-effective, as you are not spending funds to contact individuals who have no interest in your business, but is also more effective. It is much easier to close a sale with a person interested in what you have to say, than one who has to be persuaded. Below we list three different types of permission marketing:

Email Promotions 

Emails allow you to communicate with a targeted audience in order to announce new products, sales, special deals and events. There are several ways to ask customers and potential clients to sign up for your email promotions. If you have a physical store or office, you can ask visitors to add their contact information to your list. If you have a website, you can create pop-up advertisements asking people to opt-in to receiving email communication from you. To entice them to sign up, consider offering an exclusive discount or a an entry into a drawing.

Social Media

Social media is an effective marketing tool for any business. It is a form of permission marketing because people have to choose to follow or “like” your business page, and if they always have the option to stop receiving communication by deleting access to their profile.

There are a plethora of social media platforms to choose from; Facebook is the most popular one, allowing access to 1.79 billion monthly active users, but Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are also beneficial to use to connect to your target audience.

Be strategic about what you post on social media; remember to be honest and ethical, yet make your posts and images eye-catching and creative in order to get noticed. The biggest advantage of social media is that other members can share your posts with their network, providing a form of free advertising.

Influencers

Influencers are individuals that can sway the purchasing decisions of others because of their expertise, authority, or knowledge in a certain area. There are fashion influencers, who curate outfits for their audience, beauty influencers who recommend makeup brands for specific skin needs, etc.

When considering ways to market your brand in 2017, research relevant influencers in your industry. You can contact these individuals through their personal blogs or social media platforms to ask them to recommend your product or service. The best part is that these people already have large fan bases, so your offering would be shared with a multitude of potential customers who want to hear what the influencer has to say. Keep in mind that as payment for their promotion, influencers may request payment in the form of free items or actual monetary compensation.

With the new year quickly approaching, set your marketing budget now so that you can pursue relevant strategies for permission marketing. Get your budget in order before the new year with our Business Budget Smart Sheet.

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Goals for 2017: How to Set and Keep Them

Each December, we reflect on the past year and what we can do to improve in the coming months. We take stock of what goals we achieved and where we fell short.  Come January, we promise ourselves to be more productive; whether it’s at work in order to earn a promotion, to eat healthier, or to open our own business. Instead of being discouraged again next December, let’s make 2017 different, and achieve our goals with the help of the following tips. Together we can set realistic objectives and create actionable plans to keep ourselves accountable.

Set Realistic Goals

While New Year’s resolutions don’t always have to be serious and boring, they do have to be realistic. For example, you can challenge yourself to travel more, but don’t set yourself up to fail by promising yourself to travel the world in the next 366 days (2017 is a leap year!)

You know yourself better than anyone else, so only you know what goals you are capable of fulfilling, and what is and is not realistic. If you have set similar resolutions in the past, but never managed to keep them, consider a different plan that may be easier to achieve.

Minimize the Number of Goals

A new year offers a new beginning, so it may be tempting to set out to accomplish numerous goals, but be sure to plan with caution. It’s a better strategy to commit to a few goals, and truly concentrate on achieving them, than to set many objectives and not have the time to accomplish any of them.

For example, if you pledge to lose 10 pounds this year, this will require you to spend time cooking healthy meals and dedicating more personal time to exercising. Don’t also promise yourself to volunteer more, as both goals require you to commit time after work and on weekends, and you may experience a burnout and not accomplish both successfully. Prioritize your free time and see what goals fit best into your schedule for the best success rate. 

Create Actionable Plans

Once you make your resolutions, it’s easy to procrastinate. To avoid postponing your goals, create actionable plans to keep yourself accountable. It can be advantageous to create general milestones, and divide them into individual steps that can be tallied at the end of each month. This way, you will stay reminded daily of what is required to achieve your goal.

For example, if your resolution is to open your own business this year, the first month can be dedicated to doing market research on the competition. The second month can be spent creating marketing materials, and the third committed to obtaining proper business licenses. 

To keep motivating yourself, make sure you visualize your progress by writing down your goals and the steps necessary to achieve them. The more items you are able to cross off your list, the more motivated you will be to keep going!

Is better budgeting one of your 2017 goals? Check out our Business Budget Smart Sheet to help you easily plan, track, and visualize spending.

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Your Small Business Saturday Attack Plan

Thousands of small business owners across the country participated in Small Business Saturday, an annual event held on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Sponsored by American Express, it is intended to bring awareness to small businesses, and encourage patrons to skip big box retailers and shop small to support their local communities.

Small Business Saturday helped many companies attract new customers as well as potential leads. Instead of waiting for next Thanksgiving, business owners should act now to continue momentum into the holiday season and keep clients loyal throughout the entire year. Utilizing marketing emails, exclusive discounts, and “shop small” events are good strategies to stay in touch with new and potential customers.

Emails

An efficient, yet inexpensive way to communicate with your customers is through marketing emails. Sending marketing materials through the mail can be expensive, but with a little effort, you can send emails free or at a low cost. On Small Business Saturday, you likely urged your business’ patrons to sign up for email lists, and now is the time to utilize that list to reach out to them.

We recommend investing in a customer relationship management system (CRM), which will help you manage your client information, and send personalized emails with your customers’ contact information, in addition to recommendations based on their shopping history.

Many CRM programs offer A/B testing, which allows business owners to send two different marketing campaigns, and evaluate which was more popular based on clicks and purchase patterns.

When sending emails, remember that individuals are bombarded by hundreds of emails daily, so make your headlines catchy, funny, and enticing to open!

Exclusive Deals and Discounts

The reason that so many customers frequent local businesses during Small Business Saturday is because they are offered discounts and freebies. Business owners need to remember that discounts can, and should, be used throughout the year to incentivize sales. When customers believe that they are getting a deal, they are much more willing to spend their hard-earned money than if they believe they are paying full price.

How do you structure discounts? Shopify.com lists three main ways to increase foot traffic and maintain loyalty with discounts, which are:

  • Promotional pricing – Discounts and bundle pricing, such as “buy one, get one free”
  • Point-of-purchase displays – “Impulse buys” that individuals don’t plan on purchasing when they come into the store. Bins with small items next to the register are great incentives for point-of-purchase displays.
  • Loyalty programs – Membership and punch cards, as well as a points system which reward customers with discounts or free items.

Events

unnamed1The holidays are the perfect time to organize events for your customers and potential leads. Planning a holiday party in your location will create a reason for you to invite Small Business Saturday patrons back to your location. In fact, one source claims that purchasing decisions are based more on emotions rather than on logic; therefore, face-to-face events allow brand owners to create an emotional connection to increase loyalty and drive sales.

Be creative and think of original ideas to drum up enthusiasm for your business; for example, IOU Financial held a scavenger hunt partnered with local discounts in Downtown Woodstock, GA. 

One caveat is that holiday parties and other events can turn into a financial strain if not planned for properly. Opening the doors and allowing streetwalkers to come inside can quickly lead to hundreds of people sampling your goods without guaranteed sales.

Not many small business owners can allow themselves to host expensive events, especially during the holiday time. Therefore, it is essential to plan and budget for events; one strategy is to hold member-only events with a concise guest list that goes out only to the most important customers. Another way is to invite customers and ask them to RSVP, allowing access to the first 50 who respond.

Keep the line of communication open between you and the customers you met during Small Business Saturdays with marketing emails, discounts and events. Remember, the more effort you put into promoting your relationship with your clients, the more loyal they will remain to your brand.

Holiday Sale Season: 5 Tips For Keeping Your Business Focused Through the Holidays

It’s the holiday season and your business is ready to make some happy shoppers and gift givers. But keeping customers happy and keeping your business focused through the holidays can be trickier than driving a one horse open sleigh. Paying attention to the following 5 ways will ensure your business is laser-focused through the holiday stretch, and will provide your business with durability for any shopping rush.

Keep Product in Stock

Nothing is worse than a customer wanting a product you sell and it is out of stock. Ok, there could be worse things, but that is one that you don’t want to worry about come mid-holiday season. Prepare for the long haul by keeping product in stock. Supplying larger amounts of inventory could lower the upfront cost to stock the shelves per unit, and if the items do not sell you can push them beyond the holiday season. Stock up to sell out.

Coordinate Coverage

Hiring and staffing for the holiday season should also increase as you anticipate an increase in customer traffic. Finding coverage in advance is crucial to ensuring you don’t get distracted by staff calling out sick, leaving for holiday vacations, or the unfortunate circumstances that arise when working with temporary holiday staff. Coordinate the coverage as far in advance as possible, and create a plan to guarantee that if one employee falls out of the mix, your whole plan for staff duties does not unravel.

Set Benchmarks

Finding out what the upcoming season looks like one day at a time could cloud your judgment, business decisions, and plans for the totality of the holiday stretch. Outline your next few months of holiday rush with a “syllabus” of sorts. Map out benchmarks, sales, and marketing ideas. Structure the staff, supply, and price points that you want. When holidays come around, execute the plan and follow the predetermined benchmarks. Don’t base your decisions on one day’s worth of good or bad business.

Enjoy the Business

While the holidays can be stressful, try to enjoy the increased sales, new faces, and products you are getting into the homes of possible new or new long-term customers. Try to enjoy each transaction and allow yourself to profit from not only the financial aspects, but from the relationships, new contacts, and extra attention at your store.

Prepare Now

Don’t wait to plan for the holiday rush the week before. Plan and prepare now. Try and assess what products may be best sellers, survey your customers on what items they may want for holiday gift giving, or even start developing promotions for the holiday deals you will be offering. Do not wait for the season to get underway before you start planning for what you want to accomplish. Prepare now.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and your business can be ready to embrace it and capitalize on it. Start today and implement the 5 tips to keep your focus during the season so you can pay more attention to sales and customers, and less attention to hoping reindeer will land on your roof bringing you extra customers. Start planning today so you can enjoy the holiday rush! 

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