When the mercury is soaring and you’re still in a summer state of mind, it might seem premature to start planning for the holidays. But when you’re a small business owner, it’s never too early to prep for the busiest, most lucrative time of the year. Make it a smooth transition by taking these preliminary steps to get ready for the holiday season.
Look at last year’s data.
If you’ve sold with Square for more than one holiday season, you have the advantage of historical data to help you prepare for this year. Tools like Square’s online Dashboard allow you to look back at past sales data and develop projections for this year’s sales — and make crucial inventory decisions. It also enables you to determine your busiest days and times, plus your top-selling employees, which can inform your staff scheduling strategy.
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Figure out your staffing situation.
Data can help you determine your strongest sales people, but don’t discount the power of anecdotal evidence. Talk to employees who were with you last year and get their feedback on the staffing levels at your busiest times. This, along with sales data, can help you determine the days and shifts when you should staff up, and whether you should hire seasonal employees. If you do decide to hire extra staff for the season, start your search soon so that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to fill positions and train new people. Implementing employee scheduling software also makes holiday staffing a lot easier for both you and your team. You can hook up your Square account to employee scheduling software like Homebase, When I Work, TSheets, and Humanity in Square App Marketplace.
Create a sales strategy.
The unofficial start to the holiday shopping season is, of course, the day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday. But the marketplace has gotten so competitive that, especially as a small business, you have to devise a strategy that begins before Thanksgiving and goes all the way through the last possible shopping day. Think pre-Black Friday sales, Small Business Saturday, weekend events, and last-minute markdowns for procrastinators. Also, look into getting a booth at local holiday markets or opening a pop-up shop to get exposure to new customers.
Devise a marketing plan.
You could have the greatest sale in the world, but it won’t do you any good if customers don’t know about it. Year round (and especially during the holidays), your strategy should include marketing email. Square’s email marketing software makes it easy to send targeted messages to various groups, like regular, casual, and infrequent customers. This means you can quickly and easily send a special promotion to your most loyal customers, or invite your lapsed customers back with something like an exclusive discount on full-price items.
If your business doesn’t have a social media presence, now is the time to change that. If you’re new to social media, it’s important not to get overzealous. Start small and focus on the platforms that make the most sense for your industry. If you already have an established presence, figure out how you want to turn it up for the holiday season, which could include giveaways, daily gift picks, partnerships, takeovers with influencers, and more. Read more social media marketing ideas for the holidays.