7 Ways to Prepare Your Local Business for Holiday Shopping

The average consumer will spend about $819 this holiday season, so if local businesses can get in on the action, they stand to reap big rewards. With some advance planning, your business could increase holiday sales this year and for years to come. Plus, if you call on the collective wisdom of Main Street, you’ll grow even faster than you would on your own. We’ve rounded up 7 key insights to help you make the most of the holiday rush.

  1. Identify the most important holidays
    You’ve probably thought about your business’s plans for Hanukkah or Christmas and Black Friday, but you may not even have thought about some of the many other seasonal shopping holidays. Entrepreneur has a great list to get you started. Fill out your calendar with the festive dates most relevant to your clientele and brainstorm appropriate promotions or even simple decorations to catch their eye.
  2. Strategize with your team
    If you’ve been in business for more than a year, then it’s time to reflect on the last holiday season. Did you offer any special packages or sales that drummed up interest? Try to come up with solutions for the issues you may have encountered and to recreate what went well. If your company wasn’t around last holiday rush, try approaching other business owners in your area with questions. They may be able to give you details like when foot traffic spikes, for example.
  3. Think through your customer service policies
    Take a moment to revisit (or create) policies surrounding shipping, customer service calls, and gift returns (if you’re a retailer), as American Express recommends. This way, you won’t have to make those decisions on the fly and risk confusing your employees and customers.
  4. If you’re a service provider, consider holiday hours
    When your clients’ schedules become hectic, your business will, too. Instead of trying to squeeze more appointments into your regular work day, you might extend your hours temporarily. The added sales could more than make up for the expense.
  5. If you’re a retailer, put slow-moving items on sale
    Raising money to shore up inventory or hire seasonal staff is one of the trickiest tasks for a small business. That’s where a pre-holiday sale can help. Marking down items that are not top sellers generates capital with minimal risk — plus, it clears space for the items that fly off the shelves.
  6. Consider seasonal hiring
    A typical local business employee is firing on all cylinders, even when the holidays are a long way away. The holiday rush makes the work that much more challenging. If your budget allows, hiring temporary staff means that responsibilities are more evenly distributed, which can help lower everyone’s stress.
  7. Get the word out
    No matter what your industry or field, you can generate interest in your business through email blasts and social media. Reach out to current and potential customers with Facebook ads or special offers — Fanbank can help you with both. During the holiday season, shoppers are looking to make personal connections and support their community. What better time to remind them, through your communications or any other means, that local businesses excel at exactly those things?