It is nearly Halloween, which means savvy small businesses are already looking ahead to the holiday shopping season. Many business owners have long been strategizing and planning to ensure they are bringing their A-game for each major shopping day – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. They've reviewed data from last year to determine what promotions worked versus those that did not. Business owners have also defined and set sales goals, optimized their websites for desktop and mobile devices, and created marketing campaigns targeted to their ideal shopper audience.
Much of what I have mentioned above is external holiday prep, which is a bit different from internal preparations. Businesses preparing for the holiday season internally must make sure they are covering these four key areas before their doors open and shoppers, and sales, begin flooding in.
1. Staff seasonal employees.
Chances are you may hire seasonal employees to help out, and you won't be the only business to do this. The National Retail Federation has forecast that 2018 holiday retail sales in November and December could hit as much as $720.89 billion. This is an increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017.
Naturally, this many sales call for a seasonal hiring boom. However, working during the holidays is no easy feat. Customers can easily get upset if something from their wish list is out of stock, payment systems can go down, and there are long lines to stand in, which can cause tempers to flare up.
As small business owners look into hiring for 2018, they'll need to make sure the candidates they bring on are qualified for the job. Keep an eye out for resumes that have been tailored for the position. These resumes should showcase how the applicant has demonstrated initiative during the holiday season and helped solve problems in past, relevant positions.
Applicants interested in seasonal employment should also include skills that illustrate how they have quickly trained for their roles. They should be able to demonstrate how they kept their cool during stressful situations and went above and beyond to meet the needs of customers. Keep your eyes peeled for buzzwords about their personalities, too. You'll want to hire individuals who have a good attitude that is patient, understanding and full of good cheer.
2. Prepare holiday schedules for employees.
All hands are on deck during the holiday season, especially major shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Aside from making sure that your staff has been trained for their workload, prepare their schedules.
Planning to keep your storefront open later or earlier than usual business hours? Make sure you have members of your staff available to come in earlier or stay later as needed. Encourage employees, seasonal and full-time alike, to schedule in their time off early, should they decide to go home or on holiday vacations. If someone is unable to come in for a shift, make sure you have backup employees on deck who are ready to step in and assist as needed.
3. Add a little decoration pizazz to your storefront.
Is your small business a brick-and-mortar storefront? If so, you'll want to make it as inviting and enticing to shoppers as possible. That means it's time to decorate and add festive touches to the space!
A few areas to consider in your decor scheme may include window and product displays, lighting, and music. You may even add scents like peppermint and gingerbread throughout your storefront. Get your entire team involved in the process, too. Make it a fun team-building activity to deck the halls with one and all!
4. Remember to go the extra mile with customer service.
No matter how busy you may be, make sure you and your team know that this is your company's time to shine and to provide excellent customer service.
Pay attention to the overall customer experience. Remember names of frequent shoppers, offer complimentary gift wrapping and shipping, and provide free sample products with purchases. Be ready and prepared to help out and embrace the holiday spirit to the fullest with a friendly, can-do attitude.