It’s official - the Christmas countdown has begun, and even though the festive season will be a little different this year, businesses need to get ready. Depending on the industry you’re in, the next month and a half could be your chance to make up some of the year’s lost income, so preparation is key. Keep reading for our ultimate holiday planning checklist for 2020.
Holiday planning can seem like a burden, but get the formula right and you could boost your sales significantly. No one can be sure how consumers will behave in the coming months. Some will want to treat themselves and spend more than average, others will naturally be keeping their purse strings tight. But businesses can drive profitability by taking steps to promote their brand and manage the logistics of a busy season.
In this article, we explore how to prepare your business for the holidays during the all-important Christmas countdown.
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Six weeks to Christmas
- Start the Christmas countdown by evaluating your situation in terms of stock and sales patterns. How is your business performing? Which products are selling well? How might you introduce discounts and deals in the coming weeks?
- Having considered your situation, order stock for the Christmas period.
- Begin preparing your festive marketing campaign. Create a Christmas-themed section or banner on your website, as well as any seasonal social media marketing material.
- The price of adverts increases in the run-up to Christmas, so get started nice and early. Set up a Google Ads campaign to grab customers’ attention.
- Design your Christmas cards and buy corporate gifts for clients and business partners. It’s easy to get this step out of the way in good time, taking it off your plate for when things get more hectic closer to Christmas. Plus, you won’t have any embarrassing moments if the post is delayed.
Four weeks to Christmas
- If you have a brick and mortar store and you haven’t already cracked out the Christmas decorations, now’s the time to do it. Entice passers-by with attractive window displays and welcoming decor. If you unboxed the ornaments weeks ago, why not add something new into the mix? Retail businesses might like to play festive songs or light a few scented candles.
- Launch any ‘advent’-themed marketing campaigns. It’s almost the 1st of December, so the perfect time to start telling your customers about all your festive plans.
- Provide important details about how your business will operate over the festive holiday. Let your customers know when you’ll be open and when they should make their orders if they’d like to receive them before Christmas.
- Check your stock levels again and make sure you’ve got all the vital supplies. You’ll probably need high quantities of carrier bags, tissue paper and till rolls, so keep this in mind when reviewing your inventory.
- Do a quick audit of your website. Make sure it can accommodate high volumes of visitors, check it doesn’t have any bugs and update any old information.
- Holiday planning also includes the New Year, so think about how you’ll operate your business after Christmas and whether you’ll need to create any additional marketing material. If you do, start preparing it now.
Two weeks to Christmas
- The two-week Christmas countdown is usually the busiest period for many businesses, so don’t take your eye off the ball when it comes to logistics. Carry out regular checks to make sure your stock levels are adequate for the purchases people will make and the orders you’ll send out in the coming days.
- Launch any last-minute deals to encourage ambivalent shoppers to make a purchase. You could also ‘spotlight’ certain products in social media posts to help people who may be struggling to find the perfect gift for a loved one.
- Send out your Christmas cards and corporate gifts. A good two-week window should be plenty of time for the post to reach the intended recipients, even if they leave the office before Christmas Eve.
- If your festive decorations have been up several weeks by now, it might be time to give them a little refresh. When creating your holiday planning schedule, allow time for someone to clean and freshen up your displays.
One week to go
- Take your holiday planning to another level; in the final week before Christmas, you should plan each day in detail. Not only will this help you make sure you complete all your tasks, but it should also take some of the stress out of the week.
- If you have a physical store, you could take your celebrations up a notch once again. Adding carol singers or employees offering festive bites to eat at the door is a great way to promote the feeling of joy and goodwill over Christmas.
- Ramp up your marketing efforts. You don’t want to go overboard, but a daily social media post should keep your business at the front of people’s minds without irritating them. Publish high-quality images of your Christmas stock or just festive designs to spread your excitement for the holidays.
- It’s worth reminding your customers of your Christmas opening times and order deadlines to avoid any last-minute frustration. Make sure they’re clearly displayed on your website and in your store. You could also send out a social media post to reach even more people.
- Don’t forget your staff. They’ll probably be working overtime to make sure your business performs well during the busy period, so show your appreciation with kind words and the odd treat. It’s in your interests to keep morale high if you’d like your employees to maintain a friendly, helpful attitude around customers.
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Last-minute preparations and final considerations
- Before you clock off for Christmas, be sure to finish your holiday planning by checking everything is in place for the shut-down. Record a new voicemail message and set up your out-of-office email.
- Make arrangements to take down any Christmas-themed content on your website by the New Year to stay up to date.
- Finally, reflect on the Christmas countdown and your holiday planning strategies. What did you do well and what could have gone better? Armed with this information, you’ll be able to improve your approach next year.
Ace your holiday planning
Running your own business can be stressful, particularly in the build-up to the 25th December, but hopefully, this Christmas countdown checklist will help you prepare for the big day. For more handy guides on all aspects of franchise management, see our daily publications.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©