Get your business ready for the holiday season. (Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash)

Get your business ready for the holiday season. (Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash)

How Mission businesses can get ready for the holidays

Small Business BC offers four tips

This article was submitted by Small Business BC

The Christmas holiday season is approaching fast and with Small Business Month, local companies need every edge they can get.

To help make this process easier, Small Business BC has brainstormed four quick ways you can prepare your business for the holidays that will benefit your business well into the future.

Build a Social Media Campaign

One of the most important steps you can make this holiday season is to nail your social media marketing. Your social channels will build momentum and drive customers to your store. A simple way you can stand out from the crowd is to become a resource for your community. Don’t just use your platform to give a sales pitch.

Instead, give your followers something helpful they can use this holiday season. One way this can show up in practice is the creation of a gift guide. We all struggle to identify the right types of gifts for people in our lives. Help your community by taking the guesswork out of this process. Create gift guides you can share on social media. Sprinkle your own products in, but don’t be afraid to share products from other businesses you love.

Takeaways:

Become a resource, not a sales pitch

Give followers something helpful they can use

Create gift guides

Encourage Return Customers

This holiday season, it’s likely many of the customers who buy from you will be interacting with your business for the first time. It doesn’t have to be the last time. What are you doing to encourage them to come back? You have a powerful opportunity to turn holiday sales into return customers. You just need a strategy to get them back.

Many businesses have enjoyed success with loyalty programs, coupons, and exclusive links to sales to bring customers back. Consider which of these tactics is most effective for your business, and how it can be deployed to tempt customers back. Another way you can encourage return custom is to focus on customer service, which we’ll consider next.

Takeaways:

Holidays are an opportunity to introduce yourself to new customers

How will you tempt them back?

Consider strategies like loyalty programs, coupons, and exclusive sales for returning customers

Focus on Customer Service

Customer service is key to encouraging return customers. We all want to shop somewhere we feel appreciated, and there’s strategy involved in creating that vibe. It starts with your staff. All interactions with customers should be positive, and solutions based. Train your staff to handle common customer service requests in a friendly manner, while reminding them you’ll be happy to step in and handle any situations they aren’t trained for.

Alongside this, ask for customer feedback. Create a simple survey for social media, follow-up after purchases, and use your email list to engage with customers and ask their advice for improvements you can make. If you incorporate any of the feedback into your processes, consider writing a blog or social media post about it and share with your community. This dialogue shows you care and will encourage brand loyalty.

Takeaways:

Think holistically about ways to make customers feel welcome

It starts with staff training

Ask your customers for feedback, act on their suggestions when possible

Look After Your Staff

For many of us, the end of year is a busy blur. The pace of work picks up, there are social commitments to attend, and those holiday gifts won’t pick themselves out. This abundance of activity can lead to stress, and business owners have a massive role to play in helping staff shoulder the burden. Are you doing everything you can to create an environment where staff can thrive? Here are some areas to consider:

Work Parties: Get your team’s input on how they’d like to gather for an end of year celebration. The truth is work parties can become just another obligation in an already full calendar. A growing number of businesses are moving these celebrations into January, when the workload decreases and there’s space and time to enjoy the event.

Decorations: Avoid overtly religious decorations in the workplace. Don’t assume everyone will be thrilled to see a Christmas tree in your space. Consider decorations that reflect your staff and community’s varied backgrounds and heritage. Try not to exclude or make any of your team feel unwelcome.

Give to Charity: It’s known as the season for giving. Let your staff choose a charity your business can contribute to and consider matching their contributions if possible. This simple act will bring your employees together as a team.

Small Business BC is a non-profit resource centre for BC-based small businesses. You can read more about this group here.

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