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10 ways to prepare your business for the holiday season

Stock up and nine other tips
By Entrepreneur Staff |

And just like that, Christmas is now two months away. It’s never too early to start preparing for the busiest (and most lucrative) time of the year. Here’s how:

1.  Stock Up
To take advantage of potentially brisk sales, check your inventory and be sure to stock up on high-demand products. Coordinate with your suppliers early on so you can be sure to have the right amount of stocks when you need it. If you have delivery services, check with your shipping carriers to determine their cut-off days and do not forget to relay this to your customers beforehand.

2.  Manage Your Staff
More people will visit your store this time than any other day of the year so you are going to need all the help you can get. Estimate the number of people needed and train them to handle the influx of customers. Appoint specific people to different parts of the store so all customers could be accommodated.

3.  Keep Your Eyes Peeled
As much as you are going to need enough staff to assist customers, you also need to take necessary precautions to guard your products from some of them. Since everyone is going to be busy, you can increase security measures by training your staff, or better yet, by placing convex security mirrors or surveillance cameras around the store.

4.  Have a Plan B
Let’s face it. No matter how perfect you plan for this season, there will still be unforeseen problems that will come your way. So, always have a plan B. Have an alternative source of goods in place. Keep the cash flowing to fund new orders.

5.  Dress Up Your Store
Make your customers feel the rush of the season when they pass by your store—you will increase the chances of them entering your store if you have Christmas-themed decorations ready. Meet with your staff and store up on ideas to make shopping more exciting for customers. Encourage your customers to build up their wish list, and remind them to include your products in it.

6.  MakeOver Your Products
Your customers will feel more special if you make changes in your product displays. People are buying things for others during Christmas, not for themselves. Make it easier for them to do so by stocking complementary items, and categorizing products as great gifts for parents, partners, or kids.

7.  Offer Promos
A little thank-you gift for customers’ purchases can go a long way even after the Christmas hype has died down. Christmas comes once a year and it’s a good time to thank your clients for coming to you. This gift can come on the form of a freebie, free gift-wrapping, or a little souvenir for a certain purchase. You can also give out discount coupons for them to come back the following year.

8.  Time Management
Decide whether you are going to open your store on Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day, or on both days. Work out everyone’s schedules so that you are not understaffed on these important days. If you are taking some days off, make sure that important work is finished before the start of holidays. Remind your staff (and yourself) to rest well before the big day and allow them to take few-minute breaks from the floor on Christmas.

9.  Prioritize Great Customer Service
No matter what, offering great customer service should still be on top of your list. If you make every customer feel extra special, then there is a good chance that they—and their friends—would come back for more purchases after the holidays.

10.  Plan, for Next Season
Getting over the Christmas rush sure is a relief, but you still have many days to plan for if you want to stay in business for a long time. What is important is to take note of what you learned from this season and apply it in the next.

This article was originally published in the October 2010 issue of Entrepreneur Philippines.

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