If the thought of the impending holiday season makes you break out in a cold sweat instead of warm fuzzies, it’s time to get serious about preparation. Here’s what to do to get set for a jolly holiday — not a season of stress.
Forecast your busiest times.
Data is your best tool in preparing for the holidays. Luckily, you have loads of it at your fingertips in your Square Dashboard. There, you can look back at your historical sales data to help you identify which November and December days were your busiest last year. You can even drill down further to figure out your peak sales hours. These data points can help you be strategic about setting your holiday hours and planning employee schedules.
Plan your inventory
Which items flew off the shelves last holiday season? Again, turn to your Square Analytics, which can tell you what you sold most of last year, and when. As you’re stocking up on inventory, double-down on those popular items so you can maximize sales. And you haven’t already, turn on inventory alerts, which will notify you in real-time when a certain item is running low so you can quickly order more.
You can also hook your Square account up to a variety of tools in the Square App Marketplace to help you streamline your inventory management.
Plan seasonal email marketing campaigns.
Email marketing is a great way to engage your customers—and rake in more sales. To cut through the late November and December noise, try getting jump on things with pre-Thanksgiving sales and offers. Also think about sending targeted messages, like special deals for your loyal customers, or a two-for-one offer for people you haven’t seen in a while.
This is easy to do with Square’s email marketing software, which automatically segments your customer lists into loyal, casual, and lapsed. The software comes packed with ready-to-go templates for promotions, events, and announcements, so you can quickly send out beautifully-designed emails. It will also have special email templates for Thanksgiving, the holidays, and New Years.
Stock up on Square readers.
A line out the door is always a good thing. But to avoid impatient customers, be prepared with a way to speed up the checkout process. Many businesses have found success with ordering multiple Square readers for their busy season. That way, you can dispatch your employees to take payments straight from the line. For more tips on line-busting, read our post on 6 Ways to Improve Your Checkout Speed.
Enable offline mode.
Blame it on Murphy’s Law, but sometimes, things tend to go wrong at the most inopportune times—say, your internet goes out during a sales rush. To make this less of a catastrophe should it happen, enable Offline Mode on your Square account. That way, you can still take payments, even if you’re not online.
Clean up the items in your POS.
Now’s the time to make sure that everything’s as simple as possible in your items library. You want to make it quick and easy for your staff to ring people up during your busy times. Sit down and go through all of your items, deleting ones that you no longer offer. It’s also a great opportunity to add in photos for all of the items you have on tap.
Get your staff ready.
Gather your employees who were with you last season and have a serious, no-holds-barred conversation about how the holidays really went last year. What went well? And, more importantly, where did you fall short? Being polite won’t help your business, so get their honest feedback, and ask them if they have any suggestions about how you can all do better this year.
For example, should you hire seasonal employees? If so, do you have a solid training protocol in place? Your staff determines your success and failure, so make sure you have a team you can count on. To make sure you have the best people on board, read our post on How to Find Great Seasonal Employees.
Finalize time-off requests.
There’s no point in training a competent staff if all your employees are taking days off during your busiest times. So, require employees to put in their time-off requests early, and set certain parameters that make sense for your business, like “if you don’t work on Black Friday, then you have to work on Christmas Eve.” You don’t want to be scrambling with last-minute schedule changes, so make the calendar a priority.
If you have special holiday hours, make sure that your site has the most up-to-date information. And if you’re opening early or closing late, post the news on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or another social media outlet of choice — especially if you’re running special promotions during these times.
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