Getting your business ready for Christmas is nearly as tough on business owners as it is for Santa and his elves. While Mr Claus has to create bespoke gifts for children across the globe, he doesn’t have to worry about supplier contracts, cash flow or Black Friday. To help level the playing field, we’ve put together a list of essential considerations to get your business ready for Christmas.
Plan your cash flow needs
The lifeblood of any business, cash flow is crucial to getting the most from the festive period. When the pressure is on you need to be able to make quick, informed decisions, so plan out your needs week by week and track your progress as you go.
Look back at the last year or two and use that as a guide. Call in any invoices or send reminders early, as others will be just as busy come December. If extra working capital would make things run smoother, applying for finance could be a good option. Knowing where you stand and maintaining healthy cash flow will give you the flexibility to adjust. You’ll then be able to capitalise on the huge opportunities Christmas brings.
Monitor your stock levels
According to research by eBay, product availability is most important to shoppers at Christmas. Don’t have something in stock? They’ll go elsewhere. Aligning with your website and delivery capacity is crucial too, as late deliveries can cause 56% of your customers to never come back. However, give them immediacy and peace of mind and you’re on to a winner.
Stock is not just crucial for retailers though. Running out of mulled wine in your cafe means a big chunk of lost earnings. Again start by looking back at last year and set out your expectations for each week. Make a contingency plan for key products and speak to suppliers in advance. When you review each week, if you’re running low you’ll know who to call for extras. Planning carefully will help you make better sales without leaving a pile of leftovers in January.
Run Christmas promotions
Christmas is an all out consumer season. People are looking to treat themselves and their family and friends, so give them a helping hand. Are there any Christmas favourites you can put your own stamp on? Or a smaller gift you can upsell with broad appeal? Promotional days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have had a massive impact on consumer habits, so think about running limited time discounts too.
When you’ve decided on your strategy, make sure you tell people about it! Whether it’s posters around town, flyers in the high street, social media or an email campaign, ensure everyone is clear on what’s on offer and when to get it. Remember that word of mouth starts with you, so starting today, tell everyone who comes in about the offers you’ll be running.
Hire extra staff early and plan time off
Now you’ve got lots of customers coming in, you need staff to serve them. Look at your capacity across the board, from sales and fulfillment to customer service. Fill any gaps by hiring early. This will help you get them up to speed before the rush hits, and save you time recruiting later.
Holiday requests will also go up, and it can be tricky to keep everyone happy. No-one wants to tell their staff they have to work Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, (or even Christmas Day if you’re a hotel or restaurant), but it’s best to get organised early.
Ask for requests well in advance, then create a system for dealing with them. It could be you either have to work Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, or you get an extra day off in the new year. Or you could pick names out of a hat. Staff will lose motivation if they think they’re being treated unfairly, so be transparent about your process to keep them smiling.
For more tips on hiring graduates, check out our blog.
Get your business ready for Christmas – checklist
- Plan your cash flow and stock needs week by week
- Review as you go, particularly if you’ve had a sudden influx, and adjust accordingly
- Apply for funding early if needed
- Speak to suppliers and make contingency plans for key products
- Run promotions and advertise them well
- Hire extra staff early to get them up to speed in advance
- Have a fair and transparent system for dealing with holiday requests
If you’d like finance to help get your business ready for Christmas, you can check your eligibility for a business loan in 30 seconds at fundingcircle.com.