I know, Chirstmas is still over two months away...I am rushing the season. Not really. If you are a business owner you are already well into the planning for the upcoming season. For the service providers, there may be jobs to finish before the new year, or scheduling issues to accomodate staff family time.
The retail store owner has already ordered the holiday inventory and deliveries have probably already started. The back storage rooms are getting filled with items that may not be in demand this year. Retailers always are buying what they think their customers will want. That is difficult enough in a health economic climate but with the current financial stresses it is an even bigger unknown.
This is the year to use all the marketing ideas, contact your customers, write a newsletter and have it available now for your steady customers. Ask for orders or offer lay aways. Get committments from those faithful customers. Give them the opportunity of reserving now for pickup closer to Christmas.
If you are offering something new this year, make sure that you tell your customers. Maybe this is the time for that press release you have been thinking about but just haven't gotten around to. Is there a chance for a fundraiser tied in with the sales of a particular item, or a percent of sales on a particular day.
I know people have their habits and customers don't like to be rushed...but there are people who do all their shopping weeks or months in advance. Have you catered to these customers?
A valuable piece of information is always the average sale made in your shop. Most cash registers will give that information. Have you recorded it? If not start now. It can be as simple as taking a calendar and for each day record the number of customers, the average sale and the weather. This last item is important for you to monitor if the weather has an impact on when your customers shop. In areas that have cooler weather, rain or snow the road conditions can influence shopping habits.
If you have the average sales recorded from last year the year over year change can give you a good reading on what changes your customers are making in their spending habits. Are they spending less?
Do you have a permanent section of your store that is holiday ready? It doesn't need to be a large area but by always having a display for the upcoming season, you are generating interest and letting people know that you are always ready for business...regardless of the time of year.
Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Do you have customers who may have other customs? What are you doing to meet the needs of all your customers?
Use your resources wisely and well. Decide what message you want your customers to receive about your business, how you will notifiy them about the message and implement the strategy. Planning is vital, your business will benefit from the implementation of a well thought out plan.