5 Practices to Improve Business During the Holidays

November 17, 2016

When we think of the upcoming holiday season, we mainly think of retail businesses offering sale upon sale, extended hours, and hiring part-time employees. Each business competes for the consumer’s dollar trying to gain an advantage over rivals and the convenience of online shopping. Businesses juggle vacation schedules and work hours.

Not all businesses, however, are in the retail sector. Some must deal annually with the typical end-of-year slowdown. Owners and employees alike assume during this time of the year that little business will take place. Rather than automatically accepting this as the status quo, take a contrarian approach viewing this time of the year as an opportunity to expand and improve your business versus a time of dormant revenues or business decline. 

Improve your business and profits by implementing the following five practices to improve business during the traditional holiday season:  

1. Offer Customer Incentives -

While retail businesses continuously offer holiday incentives, businesses in other sectors can do the same. Instead of being content with slow revenue, compete for holiday dollars by offering customers and new business prospects incentives for making a sales transaction now rather than waiting until after the first of the year. Service businesses, wholesale, manufacturing, etc. can have their own holiday sales season similar to retail businesses. There is no need to assume that only the retail sector can prosper during peak shopping periods.

2. Review Processes and Procedures -

All businesses operate with a number of processes and procedures…some more than others, but all businesses do things in a certain way that is unique to its own business. During the year it is normal for businesses to become complacent in how things are done. The end-of-year slowdown is a perfect time to change this pattern of thinking and review processes and procedures. Make the necessary time during the holiday season to improve your business. 

3. Plan for 2017 -

Businesses must plan for the future. How are employees going to be hired? How will the business be financed if more capital is needed? What marketing strategies will be implemented in the coming year? What are the top three or four objectives the business wants to accomplish during the coming year, and how will the objectives actually be accomplished? The holiday season is an opportune time to ask these and many other questions along with definitive answers, so the business can jumpstart on its goals going into the new year with a blueprint that implements ideas into action.

4. Employee Training -

There never seems to be enough time during the year for employee training. It is always difficult to take employees away from their jobs for various types of training. Whether the focus is on product and service updates or sensitivity training, all are important elements in keeping a business running smoothly and efficiently. Slow times can still be productive in other ways.

5. Financial Statement Review -

Although the year hasn’t ended, the holiday season is a perfect time to review the year-to-date income statement as well as subsequent year financial decisions (assuming the business is on a December 31st year-end). Prior to the close of the year, businesses should review current year net income to determine if the business has an opportunity to accelerate or defer items that would be beneficial from a tax standpoint. Likewise, owners should review financial objectives for the next year with the goal to specifically increase revenues and decrease expenses. Additional ideas might be to develop strategic alliances, outsource various business functions, or obtain competitive quotes from new vendors.

Turn Idle Time Into Productive Time

Rather than taking the attitude that little gets accomplished in business during the traditional holiday season, a change of mindset is in order. Make this a time of accomplishment and productivity. Use idle time to reset the business course to a path that increases operational efficiency, thereby, increasing net profits. If your business is retail, then by all means make the most of holiday sales when consumers open their wallets and are willing to spend. 

For businesses not in the retail sector, use what is a traditional slow time of the year to improve operations for next year. Take a forward thinking systems approach that allows your business to go from its current level of success to a higher level of success next year by simply turning idle time into productive time.