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Small Business Challenges At Christmas And How To Survive Them – Pt 2

In my first article, I focused on businesses that benefited from the increased sales activity at Christmas time.

IEmpty Shopping Trolley at Christmast is also important to consider those businesses that find Christmas to be their seasonal dip in sales. So here are a few thoughts and ideas to help you if you run one of these businesses.

1.       Be flexible

Knowing this is your quiet time, think of your team and customers. This is the time where you can stack up so much goodwill ahead of your peak period. Consider two hour lunches to allow for your team Xmas shopping. Provide bonuses in different ways such as an extra day off for shopping – it can mean so much!

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At this time of year, parents are torn between work and school activities. Children are usually starring in a performance at school. Parents are pushed to help with costumes and to be present. Again, think of the goodwill by allowing time off for these events.

My final point on flexibility is opening times. If your business is quiet, then consider reducing opening hours or even close at Christmas and give everyone, including yourself a well-deserved break. Re-charging your batteries is so important and allows you to return to work refreshed for your year ahead.

2.       Say thank you

Regardless of the level of sales, this is a good time to say thank you to your customers for their patronage during the year. People like to be appreciated, so why not show it. Say thank you to suppliers, including cleaners etc, with the biggest thank you to your wonderful team for the hard work and commitment/loyalty they show you. During your peak times, both your staff and their families are affected. Do something nice to recognize and appreciate that there is a bigger team. Without the support of their families, some of your team would not be able to perform their duties well or even work for you.

Gratitude is remembered long after any event has taken place. Say it with meaning rather than style. If you can demonstrate it in a bigger and more memorable way, your actions with be truly appreciated and reputation enhanced.

3.       Good planning

Having time in your working day provides so much relief and thinking time. This is where you and your team can get together to reflect on the business year.

  • What did you do well?
  • What went wrong?
  • What are the areas for improvement?
  • Which products that sold well?
  • Which products that didn’t sell?

There are so many areas of your business that must be touched, scrutinized and refined.

The feedback from these meetings allows you to make decisions, generate new ideas to implement in the following year, possibly extend your products/services, evaluate pricing, consider areas for investment.

This time of reflection formulates your game plan for the following year and allows you to map out the year with confidence. The key word in here is intention. It’s important to understand what you are doing, what results you anticipate will be achieved from these actions, the returns on your investment in time, training and asset purchase.

4.       Re-tune your marketing engine

During your time of reflection, it’s important to review all your marketing activity.

  • What were your greatest successes?
  • Which media appears to be working best?
  • Which areas must you test next year?
  • Which media need more attention and new ideas because your marketing didn’t work too well?
  • What was your best campaign and why do you think it was so successful?
  • How can you provide more support, more information, more opportunity for your prospects and/or customers to buy from you?
  • How can you use the latest technology to present in a better way to prospects?
  • Which products/services do you not sell that may compliment your existing offering?
  • Which countries could potentially be new markets? How do we begin to build contacts?
  • Which suppliers offer complimentary products that could provide new opportunities?
  • What other joint venture opportunities are there?
  • Which markets could your products/services be considered a bonus?
  • Who are the key suppliers to these markets that offer different joint venture opportunities?
  • What is your reputation with customers? What do you want it to be? How do you clearly demonstrate this?
  • What is your reputation with suppliers? What do you want it to be?
  • What is your reputation in the market? What must it be next year and how are you going to move your reputation closer to your new goal?
  • What skills are you currently lacking in the team to achieve in 2017? How do you find these skills?
  • Does the business need the services of a specialist to contribute to change and success?

There are lot of questions here and this is what your business should be doing, asking questions to find the answers. Are you still in touch with your reason why you began the business? and what does it means to you now? Is your reason why you continue the same? If not, then what has changed? Is there a greater reason why that has become lost through becoming busy? Do you need to re-connect with this and tell your team?

The more detail you provide in all areas of your business, the more you truly understand it. This new understanding will provide you and your team with the tools to plan and succeed in 2017.

Summary

A quiet spell provides the time to catch your breath, reflect and plan. At Christmas, everybody is so busy and the energy required in the home goes beyond the norm. Appreciating this, and helping your team, will be noticed and remembered.

Most business owners admit that they never have enough time to work ON their business. A quiet spell provides the ideal platform to achieve this. Make the most of it because it will provide you with so much information and ideas for the forthcoming year. Use this time well and you will be rewarded in the future. Fritter the time away at your cost as this is valuable time that you can never regain. Time is not an infinite and free resource for any business. It is expensive. Appreciate this, because the cost of you not using time well will eventually haunt you like Jacob Marley’s ghost.

I hope you have found this article useful and I wish you good luck in implementing some, if not all of these ideas.

Does your business take a dip in sales over the Christmas period? Find out how to use this time wisely Click To Tweet

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