Some companies see a surge of business during the holiday season, while others wind down the year more slowly. There are ways to take advantage of whichever situation your company is in to finish strong and set up a great year ahead.
Below, 10 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their strategies for making the most of the holiday season.
1. Take notes now and debrief later.
With half our annual revenue coming in Q4, we remind staff to take detailed notes on sales, marketing, operations — every aspect of the business — throughout our holiday crunch. Then, we set aside time for an offsite in January to unpack and debrief. If you see a process that can be improved but don’t note it now, you’ll forget it during the crunch. We get better next year by taking notes now. — Sam Davidson, Batch
2. Reach out on social media.
My business focuses primarily on self-care, while the holidays are focused on giving to others. To get through the season, we have created social media giveaways around wellness to keep our customer base engaged. This is a low-cost, low-risk marketing technique that works for our business to keep sales level during what would otherwise be a dip. — Alexa Squillaro, wholesol.com
3. Make your own luck.
Many companies do see an uptick during the holiday season or a slowdown. In our line of work (staffing) we could have a slowdown, but we live by the rule of “We make our own luck.” We focus on increasing our activity during the holiday season and we press a little more to get better-than-expected results. If you think you are going to slow down, well then, you are right. Happy Holidays! — Douglas Carter, Ironside Human Resources
4. Prepare your team to be flexible.
We are very diligent about watching our orders backlog for the month and planning our working days around the holidays. We are always upfront with our employees about potential shutdowns and/or reduced work schedules (unpaid) around the holidays so they can use vacation time. Flexing our production DL and selling, general and administrative expenses is critical to protecting profitability. — Al Mejia, Molded Dimensions
5. Start the end-of-year rush early.
The holiday season is always crazy in business but is especially so in the consulting business. It is common that consulting contract end dates are at the end of the year. It is critical for us to get started early. We start working on our end-of-year business at the beginning of October. Time seems to speed up at Thanksgiving, so we work hard to be prepared and have a plan that will maximize success. — Matt Haiker, Q Consulting
6. Take time for self-examination and improvement.
The holiday season is typically a slower time of year for our business. This slower pace provides an opportunity for the management team to focus on process improvement and innovative ideas for the following year. This is also a time when our team members have extra time to complete new training and certifications they may have put off during the busier times. — Don Baham, Kraft Technology Group
7. Focus on seasonal wins.
We really focus our efforts on catering and pushing gift card sales. Catering gets us through the fourth quarter of the year, and gift card sales ensure we have a strong first quarter next year. — Zebbie Carney, Eugene’s Hot Chicken
8. Capitalize on the buying season.
At the end of the year, it’s easy to shut down, relax and turn off the business for a few days or a few weeks. We do the opposite. We see it as a huge opportunity for our business to grow, as the majority of people are in peak buying mode. Whether they are buying gifts for themselves or others or looking to get a great deal to kick off the new year, we want to be in that buying conversation. — Greg Rollett, Ambitious Media Group
9. Plan and be proactive.
The holiday season is shorter this year, so every minute counts. Planning is essential during this tight and busy timeframe. Using resources wisely and considering all of the various impacts of decisions is crucial to success during the holiday season. — Tashina Bailey, The Bar Method Portland
10. Reflect and look forward.
The last quarter of any year can be truly important for small businesses, as they have the ability to measure their year-to-date success actuals versus goals. A few things we do in the last quarter of a year: We celebrate our team successes, thank our clients in genuine and unique ways and make sure we keep our foot on the accelerator by establishing growth plans for the coming year. — Stephen Harnden, Affirm Wealth Advisors
Originally appeared in The Business Journals, December 5, 2019