Careful planning is essential to make the most of sales during the festive season. As mixed messages continue about the economy and recovery from the recession people are likely to be looking to keep spending to a minimum and get value for money.
If you do not already have a plan in place, this is something that should be looked into without delay. Ideally, this should be a written plan detailing expected sales, purchases to meeting this level of sales, staff to manage this volume of work and marketing to ensure it is all successful.
This will vary depending upon the type of business.
Ensure that you know what stock you need and when it will be required.
Then order early to ensure that orders are delivered in full.
Remember where possible to negotiate on prices (especially for volume purchases, and credit terms).
Take care not to overstock. Use sale or return where this is an option.
If your business is open for longer hours/bank holidays then agree hours with staff and rota them accordingly. Book temporary staff if necessary to fill any gaps.
Review and update your website for offers, special events and opening hours.
If you offer online shopping facilities, give the website a Christmas feel, highlight offers and the date of last order for guaranteed Christmas delivery.
Avoid mentioning sales as people may be inclined to delay buying if they think they can get a better deal later.
Certain businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector may benefit from a Facebook campaign. Some businesses also use Twitter, e-mails and texts to customers.
Customers like to feel they are getting something free. Offers vary greatly and need to be appropriate to the business, 3 for the price of 2, spend a certain amount and receive a free gift or voucher to be used at a later date, free entry on certain days/at certain times, free desserts with a meal etc.
Any offer given should be fully costed and if appropriate, terms and conditions written to support it. Clarity is essential to avoid embarrassing disputes with customers in front of other customers
Remind them that you are there. This can be by way of Christmas card, promotional gift (with company name and logo) or e-mail. Include details of your seasonal offers with this.
End of Season Review
In January, review what the business has achieved against the original plan. What went well? What didn’t work? What could have been better? Did the business reach its financial goals and keep costs within budget?
Make sure you have retained details of new customers, suppliers and business contacts.
October 29th, 2010