Take a look at how you can best prepare for the spring break season.
more than half of all people ages 18 to 34 head to locations both near and far for some sunshine or breaks from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. Small businesses may find this time of the year tough, but the reason behind the challenges may vary.
If spring break is a busy time ...
1. Prepare for an increase in revenue.
If your business is located in a town prone to spring break visitors, it's key to prepare for the increase in traffic in a way that is as lucrative and stress-free as possible. Turn to other data, such as your records from prior years. Data can help you ensure you make smart decisions and meet inventory demands. An increase in both foot and online traffic tends to yield an increased demand for specific products you offer. Whether you're a brick-and-mortar store or an online business, running low on popular items can lead to poor reviews, decreased revenue and issues related to customer service.
2. Do what you can to prevent a deluge.
Do everything you can to simplify and automate as much of your business as possible. This can help save you from being overwhelmed as the spring break season hits. If there are tasks you can outsource and it makes sense financially, do it. Based on your business, you may want to find tools to make commodity trading decisions. Use the internet and its offerings to make sure you aren't overwhelmed by the little things.
3. Keep your orders organized.
As spring break (or any holiday) hits, it's imperative you keep your orders organized. Ensure your team has the ability to keep the influx of orders straight. If you have an online store, the last thing you want is for orders to get shipped to the wrong customer. Spreadsheets and tools to manage sales, inventory and shipments can help save you during these hectic times. Consider adding a handwritten note to each order you send out – one of many reasons why customers love small businesses is due to the personal touches that accompany each interaction.
4. Ensure you are adequately staffed.
You also need to make sure you're adequately staffed. If you will experience an increase in traffic, staffing concerns should be addressed in advance. You can opt for seasonal help or offer current employees overtime to make sure you can address customer questions and mail orders promptly. Remember that if you plan on extending overtime to your current employees, you need to consult the Fair Labor Standards Act and comply with all state and federal overtime laws.
If you hire seasonal staff, think about your budget, come up with job descriptions and determine training needs. As spring break quickly transitions to summer vacation, it's smart to consider how spring break efforts can save you time when your staffing needs increase in the summer.
If spring break is a slow time ...
1. Adjust staffing as necessary.
If your business tends to slow down during this time, preparation isn't quite the same. You may find yourself vulnerable to some dips in cash flow.
Adjust staffing needs based on need. Don't have as many people working if you expect you'll have little foot traffic. If you have a business that is largely made up of people in the spring break demographic, you may even find yourself struggling to make a work schedule. Ensure your time-off policies are clear and strictly followed before the time-off requests come rolling in. You don't want to find yourself inadequately staffed.
2. Cross-train your team.
Another good idea is to cross-train your employees. As employee time-off requests are made, you could find yourself in a position where you are missing many key members of your team. When employees are cross-trained and knowledgeable in various areas of your business, it makes it easier to handle the staffing shortage. Overall, the more roles an employee understands, the more beneficial he or she is to your business.
3. Focus on infrastructure.
During slower periods focus on infrastructure so you can provide the best experience as your business grows. Focus on marketing and lead generation, and use this time to test various campaigns on your site and Facebook to see which produce the largest number of leads. Use the slow period to analyze and make changes in certain departments of your business rather than simply waiting around for business to pick back up.
4. Stay connected with your customers.
Don't lose track of your customers. Just because they aren't all placing orders right now doesn't mean you can to let them forget about you. Use your email campaign to send out well written, targeted emails with exclusive offers.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, revamp it. Encourage more foot traffic with a new display for the front window or even something in your parking lot to pique customers' interest. Make the most of what you have, and you can attract customers to your small business.
If you want to improve your e-commerce site, there are some simple changes you can make. Take the time to update your images to ensure they're appealing. This can make the difference between someone making a purchase or moving on to a competitor. You don't have to hire an expensive photographer, but you do have to invest the time and effort into capturing the right photos of your products.
You also want to make sure your website is easy to navigate. It should be organized in a way that is simple for visitors to browse and search for products. Your visitor should never have trouble finding what they are looking for on your site. Make sure your contact information is clearly located as well.
Spring break vacations are a tradition, yet it means different thing to everyone, especially small business owners. It doesn't matter where your business is located; spring break may present unique opportunities and challenges. With proper preparation and the commitment to making the most of your time, you can make sure spring break is a profitable, productive and enjoyable time of the year.