Ever wish you were more prepared for the rush seasons? Christmas, spring, grad season, summer, back to school… Do they all seem to creep up on you and catch you with your proverbial pants down? We know when our busy times will hit, so why do we always feel unprepared? No need to worry—you are not alone, and there are things you can do to weather the storm.
Yes, if you are new to business you may need to find out the hard way what works and what doesn’t during peak times, but for those of you that are seasoned sellers (pardon the pun), you have been there, you have done that, and now you can sell the T-shirt. What were the challenges last year? How was your schedule? Were your employees exhausted when it was over? Were your shelves too bare? Too full? Were inventory glitches an issue? The best way to prepare for the season ahead is to review the season past. Knowing what went wrong last year will help things to go right this year.
Take charge of scheduling, ordering, and prepping at least three months prior to the busy season. No one wants to be bothered with creating staff schedules when the business is full of buyers with their wallets out! Make sure your space is clean, well-lit, decorated for the appropriate season, and, most importantly, attractive to the prospective consumer. Yes, this does indeed require research to determine current trends and expectations but an engaging, pleasant atmosphere will help drive sales. So order those customer appreciation Christmas cards in September and the new canoe tour service brochure in February. Check some to-dos off your list in advance; it will make the rush times less hectic.
For the tech savvy among you, how about beefing up your online presence before the blowout times? Tweak your website, update promotions, and ensure that your ecommerce tools are in tip-top shape. Maybe even use tools like Hootsuite to plan your social media strategy so that when the time comes, that’s one less thing on your desk.
In addition, many people will argue that one of the most crucial components to get through the “boom” is having the right employees. You may need more helpers to get through the madness. Finding help is one thing; finding the right help is quite another. Starting early will allow you to strengthen employee skills and better prepare them for the various demands of the season.
And finally, as with any business at any time, proper cash flow management is key. You are planning for an influx of sales, but you should also be prepared for the additional costs of those sales. The goal should be to establish a little cushion during these high sale times to soften lulls and downtimes that may follow. They don’t call it a roller coaster ride for nothing!
Manoeuvring calmly through the high and low traffic times in business can take some finesse and require some very smart strategies, but it is not rocket science. Preparing early can alleviate a lot of “bah humbug” moments.