How to Improve Business Efficiencies over the (Busy) Holiday Season

Christmas is just around the corner and the shops are bursting with festive fares which means plenty of customers eager to spend a few more pounds. However, while all that extra traffic can be great for your bottom line, it can be a stressful time. Now is the time to finalise your Christmas business plans so you and your staff can enjoy the festive period without stress.

Prioritise your customers

The adage “the customer comes first” is never truer than at Christmas and making sure they’re happy should be at the forefront of any festive plans. Christmas is one of the busiest and most lucrative times of the year for many and capitalising on the increased spending can make or break whether you’re in retail or hospitality.

Use email marketing software to communicate your opening hours and any festive promotions. If you’re shutting down for the holidays let customers know so you’re not leaving anyone in the dark.

Getting your staffing sorted

Making sure you have enough staff to cover the greater footfall during the festive period is crucial. With all those extra people beating a path to your door, you need to be on your A game and plan ahead.

Set staff Christmas leave rules early on

Holiday requests tend to increase around Christmas as people book time off to spend with their loved ones. Some staff might also have annual leave to use up before the end of the year. Whatever the reasons, setting ground rules on Christmas leave now can help things run smoothly over the festive season.

Consider having a maximum number of people off at any one time and operating the system on a first-come-first-serve basis. If it’s a possibility for your business, shutting down between Christmas and New Year or operating on a skeleton crew is a surefire way to make your staff happy.

Flexible working

Christmas should be a time of festive cheer but it tends to be a stressful period as people try to organise time with their families. To relieve some of that stress and help your employees allocate enough time to their personal lives, you can opt for a flexible working structure. This might include work-from-home options or offering more flexible shifts.

Offer staff incentives and rewards

Who doesn’t like to feel valued? Your staff will appreciate you more if they know you care about them so make this part of your staffing strategy.

A Christmas meal out or holiday vouchers are always a nice touch, while things like extra time off elsewhere in the year or a yuletide performance bonus can really get the best out of your team.

Staff recruitment

If you’re taking on extra employees to cope with the holiday season, create a Christmas recruitment planand start looking now. The sooner you have people lined up, the quicker you can get them trained in your processes. If you leave it too late you might struggle to find talent and you might also be too busy to properly onboard them, which can leave your business vulnerable to mistakes and your staff demoralised.

Know your busiest times and your best sellers

When it comes to staffing and stocking up, look to your past sales. Your point of sale system will contain valuable data showing what are your peak times of day, month, quarter etc as well as what’s selling well. You can use that data to keep on top of your inventory management and ensure you don’t run out when you’re busiest.

Leverage your tech

There is a plethora of software available these days to streamline operations. Square Register, for instance, is a fully integrated point-of-sale system that allows you to take payments faster from your customers and keep track of sales.

If you run a salon, you can free up your time with an appointment management system, which automates your booking process. Similarly, Square Restaurant will enable you to take tableside payments and seamlessly link your front of house with your kitchen.

Ensuring your Christmas cybersecurity is up to scratch

If you have an eCommerce site, there’s a high chance a lot of your Christmas business will be done through it. Now is the time to make sure it can a) cope with an increased volume of traffic and b) that it is cyber-secure. The last thing you want is a data breach or fraudulent activity which costs you and your customers money, not to mention damages to your reputation.

Creating a Christmas marketing plan

Plan and automate your marketing to save you time in the weeks before the rush. If you gather together your marketing ideas for Christmas now, you can decide which ones to move ahead with, create email campaigns and get organised ahead of time. Here are a few Christmas promotion ideas you could try:

  • Curate special gift lists or packages

  • Offer early bird discounts

  • Promote fast/free shipping and easy returns

  • Offer first-time buyer discounts

  • Promote special in-store events

  • Create a unique Christmas menu

  • List Christmas tips related to your products

Taking an omnipresent approach

Consider an omnichannel strategy when publishing your Christmas marketing promotions. Social media is an obvious platform to share gift ideas, special offers and festive content – but don’t forget about more traditional forms of media too.

In-store or in-restaurant posters can entice customers in, while a small flyer with a discount on the next visit can encourage them to come back. A loyalty programme is also a great way to get existing customers to return.