Holidays and Your Business — a
Headache or a Joy?
We share some management
and marketing advice from experts to help you keep jolly
during the hectic holiday business season.
BY PHIL MENKE, REAP SOUTH
CENTRAL BUSINESS SPECIALIST
Does readying your business for the holidays bring on a
migraine or a feeling of relaxed, positive anticipation?
Holidays can be challenging, and they affect almost
every business. Management tools will help increase your
marketing volume and profitability in even the most
challenging business climate.
The most important step is advance planning. Start with
a review of past holiday business data. Carefully review
your sales, profit and loss statements, and cash flows.
Review your cost of goods and your borrowing needs.
Perhaps an earlier purchase of holiday items will cut
costs. Establish a line of credit during lull summer
months, and pay off the loans during the more profitable
holiday peak sales.
Look at your period of sales data to see when your sales
volume peaked. Analyze the type of sales creating the
most volume and profitability. Pricing is a key
component to profitability, and realistic pricing
decisions come from knowing costs.
Having more accurate business data on hand makes holiday
business preparations much easier and effective. What if
you’re new in business or haven’t had holiday data
specific enough in the past? Analyze the information you
need and start now to collect it.
Holiday Business Tips
In a competitive business climate you must look for your
comparative advantage. Small businesses, whether retail,
wholesale, or service, usually have a comparative
advantage in providing high quality, individualized, or
personalized service. Well conceived marketing moves
Have a Holiday Sale Every Month. There are
holidays every month, so no need to invent one. In fact,
consumers have come to expect special sales during the
holidays. Invite loyal customers for a special early
showing of new holiday offerings and a “special
customer” discount, and now you stand out as the place
Send Customers a Holiday Card. Not at Christmas,
when customers already have a huge stack and when every
other business is sending them. Why not send one instead
on Valentines Day – a “We Love Our Customers” card with
a personal note (one of the many reasons why a small
business needs a customer data file).
Gifts. Put your firm’s products in a special
holiday gift basket with enough variety to appeal to a
wide customer base. Promote selling gift certificates to
customers. This is especially attractive to indecisive
shoppers or shoppers pressed for time.
Get a January Jump. Often the best volume sales
month of the year, analyze product lines that will move
best after the Christmas holiday, and prepare a customer
mailing list for January mailing.
Deliver on Time. If you’re mailing customer
purchases, don’t lose customers by cutting corners on
your mailing costs. Planning for timely delivery is a
must. Delivering gifts late is simply not acceptable.
Kids Shopping Day. As most parents know, kids
love to shop, especially for family members or a special
someone. Statistics vary, but estimates are as high as
15 billion dollars worth of annual sales where youth
control the spending decision. They also have indirect
influence on hundreds of millions of dollars. There’s a
reason why grocery stores put “sugar puff” cereals at
children’s eye levels in grocery stores.
Husbands or Wives Day. Make it easy for husbands.
Promote wives coming in for a special showing and to
register their wishes ahead of time, and then casually
show the husband the gifts the wife really wants. Be
ready for another sale when the wife ends up in your
store buying for her husband. (Oh, by the way, while
you’re getting your husband’s gift, did you notice our
special sale on this blouse?) One, of course that was on
her wish list that hubby didn’t buy.
Service Business Specials. Yes, continue to hand
out the calendars, because many customers like them. But
also consider whether a special holiday price discount
on parts or labor for your service would be more
valuable in turning people into loyal repeat customers.
Remember, you need to stand out in a positive way from
the crowd of competitors.
Personalize Your Product. It might not work for
everybody, but studies show it can boost sales up to 20
REMEMBER, careful advance holiday business
planning and marketing promotion can make the holiday a
lot more fun and profitable.
References: Ron Zemke and Tom Connelian,
www.businessknowhow.com ; David Bachelor,
www.netmarkpro.com/djb ; tips reprinted in