Strategic Holiday Tips for Your Business

If you're in retail, a good portion of your entire annual sales may depend on how you do the next few weeks. But in every industry, the holidays present unique challenges and opportunities.

Party on! Now's the time that many organizations and large companies hold holiday parties. These parties present a great opportunity to network, meet potential new clients or referral sources for the new year. If you need to build your business (and who doesn't?) attend as many parties as you can and bring your business cards. Just don't drink too much egg nog.

Send holiday cards. The holidays give you a perfect excuse to stay in touch with current and past customers. Sending a holiday card is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to remind someone about your business. MySupplies sends out hundreds of holiday cards to people we do business with throughout the year. We order cards with our company name imprinted in the card and on the envelope to reduce work, and we keep our holiday list up-to-date throughout the year.

Give Gifts. The holidays are a great time to remember and thank those who help your business thrive. One of the nicest ways to show you appreciate what they've done is with a modestly priced gift. It doesn't have to be elaborate; in my company, we send chocolates. Don't forget those who help you every day; many businesses give holiday bonuses to employees as well.

Create holiday specials. Aren't those gift baskets you see enticing? You can create them for your business too, even if you have a service business. If you do sell products, you can purchase gift baskets to wrap a number of items together. If yours is a service business, consider adding related physical products to make the gift more tangible. For instance, bundle a gift certificate for a drycleaners with a lint brush or fancy hangers; a dog groomer can bundle a gift certificate for a grooming with pet toys.

Offer gift certificates. Do you sell gift certificates? Why not? Even if you're in the carpet cleaning business, someone might purchase a rug cleaning as a gift for a friend or family member. If this is your slow season, one way to increase cash flow now is to offer customers gift certificates at a discount; regular customers can buy them to use later, providing you with an infusion of cash.

Build your cash reserves. The holidays represent one of two extremes for many businesses: either it's the busiest time of year or the slowest. If you get a significant amount of your income now (or you're having a particularly good year), give yourself a gift and put money in a reserve account. You'll appreciate having that money come Spring or Summer when business is slower.

Treat employees well. Of course you need to treat employees well year round, but, remember, the holidays are stressful on all the people you work with, not just you. In addition to the extra pressures at work, they're also dealing with additional family and money demands at home. So be particularly patient and give plenty of recognition for jobs well done.

Recognize holidays other than Christmas. Make certain you are sensitive to a broad spectrum of customers. Remember the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa. You'll increase both sales and good will by recognizing a diversity of holidays.

Finally, keep your priorities straight. No matter how busy you are, don't get totally distracted by work. Remember the things that are really important: family, friends, community, your faith. Spend time with those you truly care for and give to those who are less fortunate.



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