How Soon Is Too Soon to Prepare Your Business for the Holidays?

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: September 26, 2017
Photo credit: imtmphoto/Shutterstock

Many business owners procrastinate with their holiday preparations. Here's a handy guide to help business owners plan for the holidays.

With summer being a recent memory, you're probably not ready to start thinking about the holiday season just yet. Holidays like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Christmas (just to name a few) may seem far away, but as a business owner, they'll be here before you know it.

Many patrons start their holiday shopping as early as October, which means your business needs to be prepared to serve them. This might seem daunting now, but you'll thank yourself when your business is ready for a lucrative holiday season.

Many of the tasks featured on this list can be time-consuming and require close attention to detail. Waiting until the last minute to get your business holiday-ready could result in major issues – from being understocked to not having sufficient time to market your offers.

To handle the holiday rush, begin taking the steps outlined below. 

1. Check that equipment is up to date

Having required equipment break during the holiday season can be disastrous and could cause you to lose business. For example, if you own a bakery, could you imagine what would happen if your oven broke during the holiday rush? How would you fill holiday orders? 

To lessen the chances of this happening, start by having your equipment inspected. If there are any issues, you'll have enough time to get them fixed or replace the equipment entirely. Leading up to the holidays, have a backup plan in mind, in case any equipment or tools are damaged or broken. This might include setting aside some emergency funds or talking to a local provider to find out how long holiday repairs would take. You might even benefit from renting extra equipment to take on the holiday rush!

When to start: Two months prior to the holidays, so that you have time to make decisions regarding repairs, replacements or purchasing extra pieces.

2. Create your marketing campaigns

The earlier you start advertising your seasonal offers, the more time you give customers to take advantage of them. If you don't market your holiday specials, don't be surprised when patrons aren't visiting your store! With 49 percent of businesses beginning their holiday campaigns prior to Halloween, you'll profit from an earlier start.

Take this extra time to devise a clear marketing plan so that you can successfully execute your campaign. Order printed marketing materials, start scheduling social posts and make updates to your website. Having these matters taken care of prior to the holidays will ensure that you don't miss out on opportunities to reach your customers.

When to start: As soon as possible. You'll need to brainstorm ideas, work on content creation, set up sponsored campaigns and get banners and other materials printed.

 

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3. Hire seasonal help

If you don't have enough help to serve your customers, you could risk losing them to competitors. Time is especially valuable to your patrons during the holidays, and if you can't help them quickly and efficiently, they'll go elsewhere. That's why you should start your seasonal hiring process now. Contact last year's crew and find out who plans on returning. Then fill any open positions. Start your onboarding and training process before the holidays so your staff knows what is expected of them. You'll be glad when you don't have to rush to find extra help when the holidays arrive.

When to start: A month and a half prior to the holidays. That way, you'll have plenty of time to contact past staff members, hire new ones and provide any necessary training.

4. Order inventory

If your business sells inventory or requires it to perform a service, you should place your orders as soon as possible. Don't risk missing a deadline or trying to order inventory that is already sold out. Plus, if you begin selling your holiday products early, you'll be able to monitor what is selling consistently, and place refill orders if necessary.

When to start: Two months before the holiday, you should start placing your inventory orders so you can receive them in a timely manner and reorder popular items.

5. Plan for decorations

Get in the holiday spirit by purchasing decorations! Shoppers will appreciate the ambiance while they shop, and it may draw their attention to your store if they see your decorations from the street. Make sure that you take your store's layout into consideration so you don't over-purchase decorations or buy items that don't fit your space.

When to start: One month before the holiday. For the most part, this shouldn't be a stressful undertaking.

The saying "the early bird gets the worm" especially holds true during the holidays. Fight the urge to procrastinate on your business's holiday planning. The holiday season can be one of the most lucrative times of the year, so don’t miss out on this opportunity for your business!

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