To start, try to determine what your customer flow will be like during the holiday season. If you have a brick-and-mortar operation, the amount of traffic will probably be based on your location, the hours you are open, or whether you have gifts or services that consumers need and want during this busy time of year.
What you can do
If you have a start-up business, consult with other business owners in your area to learn from their experience so that you can do some strategic planning. If you fail to do that and are taken by surprise, that can result in missed opportunities and employee stress, but on the other hand, if you have an online business, you will need an appealing website that can be accessed 24/7 and a substantial inventory that will attract shoppers.
Try using some special marketing incentives, such as free shipping, discounts and electronic coupons for new and repeat customers alike. In addition, if you already have search engine optimization (SEO) in place, be sure that your keywords reflect the various searches holiday shoppers will be making. You should also seriously consider using a direct mail consulting business for your Christmas cards to achieve the desired effect.
What you should know
According to American Express (AMEX), 35 percent of small businesses plan to give their workers bonuses, and most of them will be larger than they were in 2011, generally speaking, this year’s staff bonuses will average 9 percent, and you can never go wrong by giving cash. You can also use the holidays as a morale booster for your employees, so if you are sponsoring a gift exchange or having a holiday party, you are definitely headed in the right direction. The AMEX study revealed that 57 percent of small businesses will donate to public-service or charitable causes, and 40 percent will hold a special event during the holiday season.
To protect themselves legally, small businesses should consider holding a “dry” holiday party during the day, but if your circumstances make this impractical, take certain precautions so that you will not be liable and your employees will be safe. For example, find an offsite location, do not include an open bar, and send the attendees a low-key e-mail message regarding expected behavior at the event. Since your business is small, you can easily ask your staff what kind of holiday celebration they would like, and your thoughtfulness will definitely be appreciated.
Mike is a small business owner, father of three boys, husband, and freelance writer. He is currently writing on behalf of Salt Lake Mailing, who specializes in Utah printing and mailing.