If you’re anything like us, the sight of Christmas advent calendars in supermarkets at the end of October is both eye-rolling and anxiety-inducing. Every year the start of Christmas trading seems to creep up on us earlier and earlier. And the sight of advent calendars standing guard on the supermarket isles signal things are about to ramp up.
For lots of SME business owners, the end of the year tends to turn into a blur of rushed projects and never-ending to-do lists that distract you from getting your ducks in a row and ready to roll. To help you meet the inevitable chaos head-on and prepared, we’ve put together a list of 5 key things to do to get your business ready for the holiday season trade.
1. Prepare your marketing and promotion strategy
Summer and Christmas time is an onslaught of promotions, and if you want to take advantage of the festivities and keep pace with your competitors you’ll need to be in the race. If you haven’t done so already, take some time now to map out your promotional activities and get them ready to go so you don’t suddenly find yourself too busy and then lose out on holiday quick wins.
Some super quick wins you can consider include:
Plenty of us simply don’t have time to do our Christmas shopping, and for business owners, this is a great opportunity to provide a service to your existing customers, and to also bring in new customers by providing gift vouchers for sale.
Holiday email campaign:
Pick your best summer and holiday goods and create an email campaign that runs over the holidays, delivering key products just when your customers need them.
Give your top customers a small Christmas gift or discount to show you value them and encourage some cash flow into your pocket to help the holiday cash flow pressure.
2. Review last year’s trading and prepare your inventory
Go back to last year’s stock and sales reports and have a thorough look for any trends or key learnings. If you can see you had some best sellers or required increased amounts of certain product, be proactive and buy in bulk early.
By getting in early with your suppliers you can often negotiate bulk discounts that can help your supplier with their own cash flow and help ease your last-minute surprise cash shortfalls by spreading your additional expenses over a few months.
3. Forecast your cash flow needs
Your past financial reports and learnings can be invaluable in getting you prepared to manage your holiday season cash flow. Work with your team to forecast your holiday spending and expected cash flow. Consider things like extra staff, holiday pay rates and public holiday bank closures. If you rely on clients paying their invoices to keep you in the clear, ensure you arrange payment outside of holiday closure dates to avoid any unexpected delays in income hitting your account.
If you think you’ll run into cash flow crisis consider alternative financing to tide you over, OnDeck’s flexible business loans could be a great way to manage the holiday season cash crunch stress-free.
4. Check-in with your suppliers and note changes to order deadlines and closure dates
Plenty of wholesale suppliers and service businesses have closure dates that will change when your orders need to be in, and when your invoices need to be paid. Do the work in advance to check with your suppliers and note down any changes in operating hours and payment terms that will affect your operations or cash flow. Ensure your accounts payable and any direct debits are adjusted to account for bank holidays to avoid late fees or delivery delays.
5. Look after your team
If you are in hospitality or retail the likelihood is you’ll be gearing up for an onslaught, bringing on more staff and facing longer trading hours. You’ll also probably be asking a lot of your team who may need to work on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. And while the money is certainly appealing, missing out on time with friends and family over this time can take its toll.
Show your staff you appreciate them and will work with them by getting organised early.
- Ask preferences – some people actually prefer to work these days, and if there is a willingness to work from some, and reluctance from others it’s wise to try do what you can to help
- Throw in some time off before Christmas or schedule in some time after new years. Often knowing there is an end to the madness is enough to keep your team powering through the chaos with enthusiasm
- Pencil in your Christmas party if you can squeeze it in before things get chaotic, or book an end of summer thank-you celebration to show your team you value them and acknowledge their hard work over the busy season
For loans taken out between November 1st 2019 to December 31st 2019 enjoy a repayment holiday until January 1st 2020, click here for more details.