From Valentines Day and Easter to the summer rush and Halloween, seasonality can have a huge impact on how a small business operates day-to-day.
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Whilst certain times of the year can be stressful, busy periods can help small businesses increase sales, build up cash reserves and expand their customer base. Getting prepared is key to ensure they have the right resources in place.
Here are four ways small businesses can prepare for the busiest times during the year ahead.
Hire seasonal staff
No matter how busy a business may be, the customer will have high expectations when it comes to customer service. From extra pairs of hands to take stock or work the tills, it’s worth hiring extra seasonal employees to ensure standards don’t slip and customers are happy. In order to prepare for extra staff, business owners need to ensure they have the right insurance, prepare payroll and have contracts ready.
When hiring, organisations should also look for prospective employees who have a good level of training and common sense which should reduce the requirement for on the job mentoring and can get stuck in straight away.
Utilise technology to meet demand
Technology can play a vital role in how successful a business operates, especially for small businesses. As businesses hire extra staff, they need to make sure employees are supported with efficient technologies. Take payment terminals for instance, they can be hired on a short term contract, meaning businesses can quickly scale up ahead of busy periods and won’t be caught short with the influx of customers.
It’s also worth businesses exploring the type of payment terminals that best suit their needs. Using mobile terminals, for instance, which have multiple connectivity capabilities are essential for sole traders that operate across multiple locations at different events. Small businesses, therefore, play it safe and look for terminals that can connect to 3G, 4G WiFi and Bluetooth in order to provide a reliable, consistent service - and not let customers down!
Harness social media
Harnessing the power of social media to reach new and existing customers is essential in the run-up to key dates in the year. It’s a great way to stay in contact with regulars, answer any queries and deepen the customer/brand relationship. Social media is also where small businesses are likely to get the most reviews. According to a Valitor report, in the hospitality industry, nine in ten younger diners are most likely to read online customer reviews of restaurants.
Therefore, good reviews can be invaluable. Small businesses should create a strategy and process for how they use social in the run up to, and during busy periods. Knowing what images and posts entice audiences and can ultimately lead to a sale is a huge help and can then be replicated to further pull in new customers.
Supply and demand and cash flow
The busy summer season should be a small business’s most profitable time. Therefore it’s key to take advantage of this and provide efficient ways to meet this increased demand. In the run-up to summer, there are plenty of key dates small businesses can use to drive sales. Alternatively, businesses can look to get short term cash advance loans to ensure costs can be covered and healthy cash flows are maintained.
Small businesses that can deliver high standards of service while ensuring customers are happy are the ones that take the initiative and have plans in place. By having enough hands on deck, utilising social media and adopting the right technologies, seasonality can drive success throughout the year.
Christine Bailey is Chief Marketing Officer of Valitor.