If the fourth quarter means a mega push for sales (probably likely if you’re in retail or hospitality), now’s the time to really start planning, even if Christmas seems far off.
By starting your plan now, you’ll be less stressed when the busy season comes, as well as more organized.
First, What Are Your Goals?
What do you hope to accomplish this year? Beat last year’s sales numbers by 25%? Sell X number of your new product? Make your goals for 4th quarter measurable, not just “increase sales.”
Next, What’s Your Marketing Play?
Marketing and advertising are a huge component to any brand’s holiday sales, so decide now what your budget will be, and what channels you’ll use. Likely you’ll continue to use your existing marketing channels, like social media and blogs, but you might add in a few more, like paid advertising.
Do You Need to Expand Your Staff?
This is pretty much a given if you’re in retail, but don’t wait until Black Friday to start hiring. Hire now and begin training so that your new staff (temporary or otherwise) are confident in their roles before you see a flood of customers rushing to buy holiday gifts.
How are your Shipping Practices?
If you sell online, consider whether you’re set up for bulk mailings. Get a strategy here, or you’ll be rushing to the post office 6 times a day. Lump your mailings together and see if your carrier can pick them up, and consider online shipping as an alternative to that post office commute.
How’s Your Inventory?
You’ll want to beef up your inventory order to accommodate the flow of sales this time of year. Look at last year’s numbers to see if you can gauge how much you’ll need this year. See if your suppliers can cut you a deal if you order more quantity than you regularly do. That savings will come in handy.
What Are Your Promotions?
Are you having a Black Friday blowout, or will you offer smaller sales throughout the season? What’s your strategy? BOGO? 30% off? Free gift with purchase? Try not to implement too many promotions at the same time, or you’ll give your customers whiplash.
As you can see, there are a lot of questions that can be answered now that will help set you up for success in the final months of 2014.