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 How to maximise the holiday season rush for your business

 

 Often the problem with businesses that peak in the end-of-year Christmas and holiday season is that it almost automatically feels successful - the business is running on all cylinders, staff are at full complement and customers are plentiful.

These feelings of abundance are part of the joys of business, but it can take the edge off your team’s effort to make the most of every customer who comes through the door. When the store is full, the urgency to attract even more customers can easily evaporate.

Here is a list of ideas on how to keep your team’s attention firmly on maximising the holiday rush:

  • Set aspirational targets: Don’t let your sales staff compare their performance against the quiet months. The Christmas rush will make them feel good even if they do little. Rather use the positive experience to energise them to attain clear aspirational targets.

  • Don’t just have a sale: Everyone has a sale - yours must be different. If you are part of the retail industry that benefits from the Christmas season rush, you are part of an  arms race in which businesses compete by coming up with ever catchier ideas for sales. You don’t have to go bigger or louder than everyone else, just different and fresh. Try to differentiate with the structure of your sale (a series of flash sales instead of one long one, for example), your presentation (a slogan with a difference rather than just the ubiquitous “Sale!”), your offering (the size of your discount), your marketing (your mix of social media, email shots, phone calls, pamphleteering and posters) and the buzz you create (anything from funky in-store decor to live music).

  • Plan carefully for substantial discounts: In the end-of-year frenzy a weak single-digit discount is not going to do much to maximise your Christmas sales. With careful thought and negotiations with your suppliers it is possible to offer an unbeatable discounts without decimating your profit for the season. Strategic loss leaders can boost your profits by drawing in customers and creating a buzz. Also consider stratified discounts, which rise with the amount that a client is prepared to spend - 5% on purchases of more than R300, 10% on more than R500, for example.

    Pay special attention to the effect of Black Friday on the holiday rush in your industry. It is a recent development, and local businesses still have to perfect and adjust their discount strategies to incorporate Black Friday specials.

  • Promote bundles: Create special offers for purchases of more than one item - a guitar plus a guitar case, for example. Or offer something like a discounted installation of your product by joining forces with a quality tradesperson.

  • Offer freebies: You can set up staff to do free deliveries if you sell bulky products, or add an appropriate give-away that bundles nicely with the product you are selling.

  • Hold community events: Whether your community consists of the residents who live near your shop or the niche network of clients who are interested in your specialist products, an entertaining event can do a lot to draw people into your business and create a buzz.

  • Offer gift cards: Make it easier for gift hunters to buy Christmas gifts from you by offering gift cards. Make sure, though, that your admin system and your staff are empowered to deal with the gift cards and the recipients who are going to bring them in after the holidays.

  • Don’t neglect customer relationship building: In the quiet periods of the year, you and your staff have plenty of time to take down a customer’s details for future campaigns and to work a bit on your relationship with each customer, for example by getting back to them with an answer to their queries. In the holiday rush it is easy to put this on the back-burner and in so doing to waste a huge opportunity. Find ways and systems to keep your staff attuned to the importance of adding new customers to your database and following up on contacts made.

  • Have a post-Christmas plan: A crucial part of maximising your holiday-season business is to be ready for the day after Christmas. Get your staff ready to deal with customers returning gifts. Train them up to use the interaction as a selling opportunity. Also have a clear strategy to up-sell to anyone who comes in to redeem a gift card. Do take down your Christmas-themed decor and paraphernalia as soon as possible after Christmas. Nothing says “tired” as much as a forgotten Christmas decoration next to the till. Besides, after Christmas there is New Year to get excited about.
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