10 tips on preparing your business for the festive season

red filofax open on a turquoise desk with paper snowflakes and pine cones scattered around

The Christmas season is very nearly upon us, and some of you may already be feeling the festive effect on your business. To make the most of this time we have come up with 10 tips on how to prepare your business for the festive season.

 

1. Get ready

This may sound obvious, but time does have a habit of slipping away. This can either be a very prosperous time of year for your business or a time when sales slow and you can take stock and start planning for the following year.

If your business doesn’t see an increase in footfall at this time of year or you may even have less work than usual, then you need to ensure that you have planned for this financial downturn. Look at what you’re spending and see if there is anything you can put on hold until 2020 to limit any reduction of income.

However, if Christmas is a time when you get more business than any other time of the year, then you need to ensure that you have the capital to get in enough resources, whether that be stock or extra staff.

 

2. Plan your festive content

Whether it’s a festive newsletter or Christmas themed social media and blog posts, start planning and creating this content now – chances are you won’t have time once the full Christmas effect starts to hit in December.

 

3. Offers and sales

Thanks to events such as Black Friday, consumers now expect businesses to provide money-saving offers or sales on their products or services in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Have you planned to give any discounts to your customers? Do you even know what offers may be attractive to prospective clients or what is your most purchased service? Where do you make the most profit – is there margin for a lower price?

Use your key performance indicators to analyse the data you have collected over the last year, specifically last December, if available. Look for trends and what sold well during the festive period. The data will help you identify what kind of promotions are most likely to drive up sales and allow you to order any additional stock that may be needed.

However, just because other businesses are offering a discount does not mean that you should. You may already beat them on price or offer a better service. If a promotion is not going to benefit your business or prevent you from making the amount of profit you need, then carefully consider whether it is going to be of any value.

If traditionally you offer a discount in January and this has performed well for you in the past, then it may not be wise to have an offer running pre-Christmas if it will erode the expected New Year sales.

 

4. Decide on working hours

The festive season can play havoc with your company’s working hours. How long will you close the business for, if at all? Anticipate the demands that will be placed on the business and plan your working hours well in advance, ensuring you communicate this well to all employees as well as customers.

If you do close for an extended time over Christmas and New Year, then ensure you set those out of office notifications on email and update the opening hours information on your website and social media.

 

5. Plan staffing levels

Once you know what dates and time you expect to be open over the festive period, you can begin planning how many employees you will need. Make sure you factor in things like annual leave, people needing to leave early for school plays etc.

Will you need temporary staff to cope with the extra demand? If so, don’t delay in either starting recruitment yourself or getting an agency on board to assist with this task. This will, however, increase your costs in the form of wages and training, so you need to get a balance between coping with the additional demand and not eroding any profit you make in staffing costs.

 

6. Give your website the once over

If you have an e-commerce site, then give it the once over and check those popular products are easy to locate, offers are highlighted on the homepage, checking the shopping experience is smooth, and payments can be made easily. It’s better to pick up and correct any issues now than have a problem at your busiest time and potentially lose sales.

 

7. Make a note of supplier closures

Inevitably your suppliers will also have amended working hours during this time. Ensure you know what these are and get your order in well ahead of when you need it. If your supplier also has an increase in demand at this time of year, it may take them longer than usual to process your request. Check what their lead time on delivery will be and adjust your processes accordingly.

 

8. Be crime aware

This time of year can often see an increase in crime, so be vigilant. Whether you have a van full of tools or a warehouse stuffed with stock, anyone could be targeted. Review your security systems and processes to help protect your business and ensure all staff know the procedures around locking away valuable items.

 

9. Manage the Christmas stress

If your business is one that sees a significant upturn in sales during December, then you may find yourself becoming increasingly stressed while coping with the extra demand. Consider what measures you need to put in place to manage your own wellbeing.

Could you utilise technology to help you manage stock levels more effectively or allow you to access your system remotely? Perhaps you could work from home to relieve some of the pressure you feel when onsite while maintaining contact with the day to day running of the company.

 

10. Check your insurance is up to date

Check your insurance policy and make sure it covers you sufficiently. Is critical hardware and equipment you rely on included for weather damage for example? If not, then look to add it to your policy.

Do you have sufficient employer’s liability insurance if you are planning on taking on temporary staff?

Check your policy wording and know precisely what you’re covered for, but more importantly check what you might not be covered for so you can take action now if necessary, to increase your protection.

 

Running a business is a time-consuming role and the festive season only adds to your workload. Being prepared and having plans in place will ease the extra demand that December brings. Keep your team in the loop also, if they know what to do when the business is bustling, you will be able to relax and let them take some of the strain.

Clear processes allow everyone in the company to be empowered and take action, meaning you can all enjoy the fun of the season along with increased profits for the company.

 

Further information

If you found this information useful, you may also want to check out the following:

 

MRA help individuals, businesses and families achieve the best quality of life they can with the resources they have. MRA specialises in corporate solutions, cash-flow analysis, taxation, debt management, savings and investments, lifestyle planning and much more.

Business Consultants based in East Sussex we service clients across the South East, Sussex and Kent, including smaller towns such as Ashford, Battle, Bexhill, Bodiam, Brighton & Hove, Cranbrook, Crowborough, Eastbourne, Hailsham, Hastings, Heathfield, Herstmonceux, Lewes, Mayfield, Newhaven, Rye, Seaford, Sevenoaks, Tenterden, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells