Fall brings cooler temperatures, dazzling foliage, and — hopefully — an end to the summer slump for many business owners. While some shoppers scout out of end-of-season deals beginning in September, others are already looking forward to the holidays, giving your business an opportunity to capitalize.
Here are five ways to prepare now and potentially come out ahead this fall:
1. Plan your holiday sales strategy now
Think about when you want to run any holiday sales between now and the end of the year. Do you plan to have one ongoing sale or run multiple promotions spotlighting different products or services?
Also, think about how you’ll promote sales and incentivize shoppers. If you have some excess inventory you’d like to get rid of, for instance, you could offer those products as a freebie or bonus to encourage shoppers to spend. If you run a service-based business, you could offer an add-on trial service for free when a customer buys a larger service package.
2. Hit the trade show circuit
Fall is prime time for trade shows and conferences, and they can be a great opportunity to promote your business, and also see what’s new in your industry.
Depending on timing, you may be able to find new items, products or ideas in your industry that may be hot trends for the holidays. Trade shows and conferences can also be good for checking out your competitors, showcasing your business to your target customers, and generating leads.
3. Audit your business systems
The last thing you need when a busy holiday sales season hits is a break down in your inventory management or point of sale systems. During the fall, take time to review the different systems and processes your business uses, including:
- Overall business operations
- Marketing and customer relationship management
- Inventory management
- Point of sale and banking
- Information management and storage
- Accounting and payroll
- Hiring and training new employees
The goal is to make sure your systems are operating for maximum efficiency in order to avoid potential bumps during the holiday rush.
4. Review your finances
Pencil in time before the holidays to check your goals, revenue projections, and start putting together your tax information. It can be helpful to create updated financial statements, including a balance sheet, cash flow statement, profit and loss statement and income statement to measure your progress throughout the second half of the year.
You may also want to calculate some key ratios, such as your inventory turnover ratio, current ratio and payables turnover ratio. These ratios, along with your financial statements, can help you gauge your business’s overall financial health as you head toward the holidays.
5. Check your inventory
If you have a retail or product-based business, you don’t want to come up short when holiday shopping traffic picks up.
Review your current inventory to see what gaps, if any, may need to be filled. If you’re worried about a particular item being scarce during the holidays, reach out to vendors now to pre-order so you’re guaranteed to have inventory on hand when you need it the most.
There may still be a few weeks of summer, but now is the time to prepare so you come out ahead this fall (and winter!)