No matter how carefully you prepare your holiday sale seasons, there are times when you’ll still need to obtain some sort of last-minute alternative financing to make that final push before the end of the year. Ensuring a successful sales strategy requires optimizing supply chains, finding the best deals for shoppers and hiring top-notch staff members to provide great customer service.
However, despite carefully planning for each of these factors – as well as numerous other responsibilities – sometimes small business owners can still find themselves in an unfortunate position at the end of the year. Cash crunches, inventory shortages, unprofessional employees or a whole host of other unforeseen catastrophes can strike at any time. Small businesses are especially prone to these sort of problems during the hectic holiday season.
While many small business owners begin planning for their holiday sales season at the very beginning of the year, and spend the next 11 months tweaking that strategy, there are still several last-minute tricks that business owners can put into motion to ensure they get the most out of the holiday shopping season.
Sometimes the biggest difference between happy and unhappy customers is the way they were treated by a company’s employees. Even if shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for at the price they expected, they can still have a bad customer experience if the staff aren’t doing their part to make the shopping event streamlined and enjoyable. This is doubly true during the holidays, when people expect good will and season’s greetings, even though stores can be intensely busy.
By hosting a few extra training sessions with employees, you can alleviate any customer dissatisfaction and make shoppers more inclined to return to your store as opposed to patronizing some other business where the customer service might be slightly better. Remember, properly training employees for this busy time of year requires more than simply telling them to be better at their job. Ask more tenured employees about their experiences from previous years and use this feedback to improve workflows and sales strategies. Similarly, talk to the new hires and see if they have any outside-the-box ideas that might be beneficial – sometimes it’s the people with the freshest view who can see the hidden flaws in the company’s operations.
At the same time, understand your staff members are going to be stressed out during this busy shopping season, so it’s also important to provide encouragement and incentives to help motivate them. Whether this involves holding a company holiday party or group outing, or offering them some sort of supplementary remuneration, showing employees you care and that their efforts are appreciated goes a long way to ensuring they stay happy, which leads to more satisfied customers.
Launch a social media contest
While many of the routes you can take to boost sales at this time of year might involve additional working capital that you might not have, launching a social media contest is a quick and, most importantly, free way to reach out to new and old customers, while also spreading the word about your company. For instance, as PCMag noted, consider making a social media post that offers to give away gift certificates for the follower who posts a picture showing the best utilization of something that connects back to your business. Or, you can have followers come up with a holiday-themed post. Not only will this draw in cash-conscious customers looking for deals, it will also encourage people to share the competition with others, thereby drawing more attention to your business. Whatever the contest actually entails, the goal is to ramp up customer enthusiasm and engagement for your business, which ultimately translates into increased traffic and higher sales.
Work with an alternative lender
Perhaps the biggest quandary that small business owners find themselves in during the holiday shopping season is the lack of working capital. Without these crucial funds, owners might not be able to hire extra staff, buy additional inventory or keep the store open a few hours later for those last-minute shoppers. As Forbes contributor Brock Blake noted, finding capital during a crisis, especially one happening during the holidays, can be one of the most difficult tasks a small business owner faces during the year.
While traditional lenders require owners spend a considerable amount of time jumping through countless hoops and cutting rolls of red tape, alternative lenders don’t have the same sort of strict application processes. Not only do these lenders remove many of the time-consuming obstacles involved in obtaining a small business loan from a traditional lender, but alternative lenders also make it quick and easy to obtain the crucial capital injection needed to help owners during this busy time of year. Small business owners can just hop online, type in the basic details of their operation and revenue streams and typically within less than 24 hours, they can get access to the funds so essential for that final holiday sales push.