The SME guide to preparing for the festive trade –
As a business owner, you have a plan. Whether this is a strategic or tactical plan, as the yearend approaches you are faced with preparing for the festive season cashflow (or lack thereof), stock purchasing and investment to develop and grow your business in the new year.
Whether quiet or busy, when faced with public holidays and project deadlines, most business experience a disruption in business-as-usual (normal business flow). For all industries this is a time to reflect and inspect in order to ensure that they profitalise (noun; capitilising on profits) on the festive frenzy. Preparation and planning are key to ensure performance in all aspects from budgets, stock, staff and maintenance irrespective of whether you are ramping up or winding down.
If you are not planning on taking a break for yourself, do it for the business. Whether your business is shutting down or not, it is also critical to know in advance when your staff is planning their leave. Retailers need to plan accordingly and in the manufacturing industry it is important that employees take their leave over this period. Expectations around holidays and bonusses should be managed carefully as it affects all aspects of the business and can even lower unplanned absenteeism. Holiday sales can represent around 29% of annual turnover and when managed well can provide a great start to the year. Contingency plans, training and recruitment needs should be addressed well in advance.
Funding for Cash flow
The festive season is often the most volatile time of year with manufacturing and service industries shutting down and with retailers paddling to keep head above water. Industry depending, financial and cashflow forecasting is the key to increasing profits and determining the need for funding to pay salaries and bonuses or secure stock.
It is not surprising that all customers today have an expectation for an effortless online and offline experience. Promotional drives like Black Friday, Christmas and Back to school, that precedes and defines the holidays should provide any business with ample opportunity to clear stock overruns, shed slow moving merchandise and secure orders to set you up for the new year. The opportunity to capitalize on the spending frenzy by optimizing your social and web platforms can be done at a fairly low cost and generate much needed traffic to your website and door.
The challenge of managing volumes. Short term savings can often lead to long term losses and therefore there should be careful consideration to account for an increase in feet and stock distribution to decrease congestion that will result in bad shopping experiences. This does not need to be a guessing game. Looking at sales over the previous season as well as the last quarter can provide a good indication of industry sentiment.
For retail, maintenance in the festive season often means having a team on standby so that when it breaks, it can be fixed on the fly. Closing down for a few weeks can give the manufacturing industry the ideal opportunity to do the required servicing, maintenance and housekeeping.
There are countless opportunities to prepare for the madness that comes with the holidays without selling yourself short. Proper preparation means that you need to start now. Through careful planning and smart investments you are guaranteed to enjoy your festive season.