Christmas is a time for celebration with family and friends, for reflecting on the year that’s been and for making New Year resolutions. It’s also one of the busiest times of the year for small to medium business operators.
So, MYOB has a few tips for SMEs as they prepare for success in the silly season. CEO Tim Reed says, “The weeks leading up to Christmas may be demanding for shoppers, but they’re even more so for business owners and their staff. Now is the perfect time to plan for this busy period to increase the likelihood of a successful and happy selling season.”
1. Review and learn from last year
Take a look at the performance of the last festive season to pinpoint the positive and negative aspects. How well did each of your products, services and promotions perform? Other operational aspects? Did you cope with the boost to customer numbers? Think about what you can do this year to improve results e.g. social media, new promotions, working a niche target group or even changing the layout of your shop.
2. Get online
The internet has added a whole new dimension to shopping, with a vast majority of consumers shopping online on their smart phone, tablet or laptop. Establish a simple website or revamp your existing one as it’s a powerful tool to help increase awareness and sales. An easy-to-use website builder such as MYOB Atlas helps you create an attractive website with its own .com.au domain name and email in 15 minutes. It’s free for the first year, pre-configured for Google searches, and includes ecommerce functionality via PayPal.
3. Shout from the rooftops!
Don’t be shy about making your business as visible as possible. Promote your unique selling points (most value or choice, best service, longest warranties, local, eco-friendly etc.) to remind loyal customers and attract potential ones. Consider adding limited-time discounts or expanding your sales/marketing channels.
4. Boost staffing resources if require
Hiring extra staff can certainly help with the extra volume of customers in the lead up to Christmas. The tax-free threshold increase to $18,200 should encourage more part time workers to return to the workforce as it becomes more financially viable, so SMEs might be able to draw from a larger group of skilled candidates.
5. Prepare your team to up the client service ante
Get your team ready via briefings on all store policies, service and complaint procedures, promotional stock and other important business aspects. Conduct training sessions to prepare them for the extra volume of customer and supplier interactions. They will be under more pressure than usual but this also applies to shoppers so a smile and a positive, helpful attitude will make the busy period more pleasant for all.
6. Keep your business house in order
There will likely be an abundance of gift wrapping paper, boxes and/or other packaging in your business as well as more paperwork. Get organised to reduce admin time and stress levels. Up to date accounting software, such as MYOB LiveAccounts or AccountRight Live, acts like a virtual assistant by automating many aspects of this. It also gives you a comprehensive snapshot of your business at any time to help you better control things like your cash flow, payroll, inventory and invoices.
After the hustle and bustle of Christmas, remember to perform a business health check with your business advisor to help kick start your path to financial success in the new year. Business tends to be quieter post-Christmas so if possible, take some time off for a holiday to unwind and reinvigorate. MYOB research shows more than half of Australia’s SME operators had taken fewer holidays than they could have while running a business (53%) and 29% had not taken any holidays at all.
Image by Bart Fields