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The Christmas carols might not be ringing through shopping centres just yet, but they will be soon. And that means it’s time for small businesses to be planning for the Christmas rush. For many businesses this is the peak period of the year, and setting up your business to take advantage of it can mean a very healthy looking January profit and loss. The key though, is planning and investment in the right areas.
First and foremost of course is your inventory. Stocking up for Christmas can be difficult, but it’s so important to be well-stocked because if customers see an item is sold out, it can really hurt their perception of your business ongoing. Forecast demand for items based on real sales data, and keep a long-term view about what is popular in post-Christmas sales period too.
Now with all that great product ready to fly off shelves (or website), do you have the staff to make it happen? Now is the time to get your staffing right to make sure you can handle the rush. Whether you’re bricks and mortar or an online business, having staff in place to handle customer queries, sales, fulfillment of orders, and even added marketing you should be doing, is vital. Temping agencies, personal networks and local papers are a great place to start.
After having great staff, customer experience relies on your systems and processes. This is especially important at Christmas when every man and his dog are out scrambling for pressies. You don’t want people queuing to pay because you have outdated technology so make sure your point-of-sale set-up is seamless and speedy. There are so many easy ways to take card payments that don’t hold up the line. And if you have an online store, the absolute worst thing that could happen is a site crash, so make sure your servers can handle an influx in traffic to the site.
Central to all of this is your cash flow. Many businesses will need finance to ramp up their Christmas preparations, but don’t make this a last-minute consideration. Check out options for loans, especially quick, short-term options online lenders offer. It could give you the boost you need to benefit from the Christmas rush.
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Readers should shop around for the best deal to suit their needs. Pinstripe Media, David Koch's family business, is a founder of Small Business First.