The last six weeks of the year are the busiest for most businesses. As a store owner or manager, it’s up to you to make sure your employees are ready, your inventory is stocked, and your customers are happy. Here is a checklist of six things for you to keep in mind as the holiday shopping sprint begins.
1) An Educated and Excited Workforce
The number one asset to your business during the next six weeks are your employees. These are the people who will have the most direct contact with your customers day after day, so it’s important for them be excited about your business and products. Make sure that your employees are knowledgeable about your most popular items and services so they can offer advice and make suggestions to customers.
It’s also important to educate them on their role in the holiday shopping experience. A customer could decide to make your store a destination throughout the rest of the year if they receive stellar customer service. Let them know that even though holiday hours tend to be longer and that it can be stressful, it’s important for them to be friendly, helpful and excited to help every shopper who walks through the door.
2) Products and Services Readily Available
Throughout the year, you’ve been keeping track of the most popular items in your inventory. Now is the time to take all of that information and stock your shelves full of those items. Create endcaps and display these products clearly. If you offer certain services to customers, make sure that you hire more workers to complete the extra jobs that may come up during the holidays. With more skilled employees, you can book jobs on the same date and offer more available times to your clients.
3) Social Media Tips
If you don’t use social media often during the year, but you know customers follow your accounts, now is the perfect time to get re-acquainted with your profiles. Update any of your business’s information like new store hours or pictures of featured items. Change the header image on your Facebook and Twitter account to something that you think is appropriate for the holidays. Make your store’s social media presence just as inviting as your store’s physical presence.
You are going to be busy helping customers, so you may not have the time to update to social media as often as you would like. Use social media tools, like Hootsuite, that allow you to plan ahead and create messages that will post automatically on a specific date and time.
There are lot of great national hashtags that you can use to connect your business to the shopping community. The weekend after Thanksgiving you can use #BlackFriday and #SmallBusinessSaturday. Other popular hashtags you can use include #ShopSmall, #holidaysavings, and #deals. Be on the lookout for hashtags your local chamber of commerce or business association might be promoting.
To some people, wrapping gifts is an art. To others (like myself), it’s like an impossible art project. Offering customers the opportunity to have their gifts wrapped in the store is a great extra service that will be taken advantage of. If you don’t have the manpower to spare during the season, contact a local charity and see if they want to set up a gift wrapping station. It’s great way to get your business involved in the community.
5) An Assorted Mix of Holiday Music
The days and weeks after Thanksgiving can be stressful for your customers. Adding some holiday music can help to remind everyone why they are out shopping. When selecting music, it’s important to know your audience. If you have a low-key customer base, Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” may not be the best selection. Try to find music that everyone will recognize and can relate to the holidays.
6) You’re “We’re Open” Sign
Last, but not least, you need to make sure people know your business is open. You could advertise in local publications and online as much as you like, but if a customer drives past your business and doesn’t see an “Open” sign, they could skip right past your store. Let people know you are open for business with a sign in the window or on the sidewalk outside your store’s door.
This is the time for your business to thrive, so make sure you’re in the best position to succeed. The more prepared you are for the season, the easier it will be to offer the products and services that your customers are looking for.
Nick Pizzolato is the Marketing Content Manager at Wicked Local Media Solutions. For questions, topics for future blogs, or to share your favorite moment from the film “Back to the Future,” email him at email@example.com.