Although it may still be a little way off, Christmas planning always starts early for businesses. And apparently that’s now true for consumers too! A recent survey by EbayAds found that 27% of people surveyed said they planned to start Christmas shopping earlier than they did last year, and a whopping 41% anticipated finishing their Christmas shopping before December even starts! So, there’s no time like the present to begin putting in place those Christmas business ideas.
But where do you start? There’s a lot to consider but our handy guide will take you through all the important preparations needed, to make sure you, your employees, and your customers all have a very merry Christmas.
Considerations to Prepare your Business for Christmas
The first thing you need to think about before putting any plans in place, is what does Christmas look like for your business? Your answer to this question will affect how you approach your festive preparations. For some, particularly retail businesses, Christmas is the busiest time of year, whereas other industries may see little to no change, or possibly even experience a dip in demand.
No one can predict the future, however looking at your performance over previous years, as well as your competitors’ performance, will give you a good idea of what you might be able to expect, and where you should focus your planning.
For example, if the festive period is a busy time for your business to make sales or onboard new clients, there may be staffing, training, and stock requirements to consider. On the other hand, if your business generally goes quiet over December, this may be a good time to do all of those things you’ve been putting off, ready to start the new year well prepared and fully caught up.
Before you jump into the festivities, there are a few housekeeping and logistical considerations to think about. Firstly, you should stock up on basic supplies. By reviewing your previous year’s performance and examining projected sales for the upcoming season, you should be able to get a good idea of the things you’ll need to order.
For example, if your business is shipping or delivering products, you should anticipate a greater demand for packaging supplies and stock up in advance, so you don’t end up with delays.
Similarly, if you are selling seasonal products, such as gift sets, you should order these well in advance to make sure they arrive in time and in the right amounts.
Alternatively, if your business offers a service or something similar, you may want to stock up on things like hampers or corporate gifts, taking into account delivery times and when your clients’ offices may close for the festive period.
As well as stocking up, you will also need to figure out any changes to your trading times. Many businesses alter their opening hours over Christmas to meet increased demand from shoppers, for example, staying open a few hours later than usual on weekdays to cater to your 9-5 working customers.
If you are shipping orders out, you will need to calculate a ‘last orders’ date where customers can guarantee their orders will arrive before the big day.
You will also need to decide which days you will be closing over Christmas. Many retail shops will stay open until Christmas Eve for the last-minute shoppers, then re-open on boxing day in time for the end of year sales. Whereas non-customer-facing businesses may close for a longer period of time.
If you run your business online, you could set a date for last orders and make your customers aware that you will be taking a break for a few days and to expect a delay in responses/shipping times. This allows you to keep your business ‘open to custom’ all the way through Christmas.
However, if you own a restaurant or takeaway, you might consider staying open all the way through Christmas, with limited opening hours. (Going out to eat on Christmas day is growing more and more popular!). If you are considering staying open, make sure to take into account staff availability over this period.
Whether you choose to be open for longer, or decide on a Christmas shut down, make sure you inform customers of these changes well in advance, so as not to miss out on any potential trade.
Christmas Business Ideas: Merry Marketing
What better way to prepare your business for the festive season than with some Christmas marketing? Although people are naturally more inclined to spend money during the festive period, by introducing and promoting seasonal offers and discounts, you can give your business even more of a boost!
Deck the Halls
Aesthetics play a big part in creating that cosy, festive atmosphere that shoppers and client’s love.
If your business operates in-person, take advantage of your space and get decorating! Whether it’s fairy lights in the windows or a full-scale Santa’s grotto, there are plenty of ways to dress your business for the occasion.
But online businesses don’t have to miss out! You can still decorate your webspace with a Christmassy theme.
Limited Edition Products
If food is a big part of your business, you could consider introducing limited edition Christmas-themed products. From the humble gingerbread man to the classic turkey and cranberry sandwich, make sure you’re ready with all your customers’ favourite flavours
Seasonal Discount Codes
If you trade online, a festive discount code is a simple but effective way to increase your sales – think short Christmassy words like ‘SANTA20’ for 20% off Christmas merchandise.
Newsletters are one of the most popular marketing methods, and for good reason! Be sure to promote your special products, altered opening hours, and any other information that your customers need to know.
Social media is a powerful tool and a great way to spread the word about your business. Keep it simple with some Christmas themed imagery or share your favourite staff Christmas jumpers. If you want to go bigger, why not create a series of festive puzzles to share? Or if you have a customer facing space, you could even create a branded, festive photo opportunity, and add a hashtag to encourage customers to share some great user-generated content.
Meeting Your Customers Needs at Christmas
There will be lots of other businesses pulling out all the stops this Christmas, so you need to make sure you stand out! By considering what your customers want to see from you, and tailoring your products and services to their needs, you’re bound to delight new and existing customers alike.
Online shopping is becoming more popular, so if you operate online, or partially online, you should make sure all your customer channels are optimised and can cope with the strain of increased demand. This can be as simple as customising your digital chatbots or training up team members to provide technical support.
Gift cards and vouchers
These are perfect for customers looking for a quick gift, whether it’s a gift card for your products, or a voucher towards a service you provide. These are great as they provide up-front revenue and are likely to increase your brand awareness. You could offer e-gift cards, or get physical vouchers printed.
Gift wrapping service
If you sell physical products, you could offer an additional gift-wrapping service to save your customers a job, whilst boosting your income on seasonal products.
Create an inviting environment
Even if they don’t plan on making a purchase, inviting potential buyers in from the cold is likely to result in a sale. Use tasteful decorations, interactive experiences like a Santa’s grotto, and warm lighting to create a cosy environment and increase your footfall.
Themed bags and packaging
Simple but effective! Limited edition themed carrier bags and take out cups can not only bring a smile to your customers faces, but they also work as free advertising! When a customer leaves your premises with a Christmas-themed shopping bag, they are showing other potential customers that you are getting ready for the festive season and may tempt them to come and check you out for themselves. Consider sustainable options, like paper bags and cups, for minimal impact on the environment.
Christmas Business Ideas for Employees
Your workforce can make or break your business during high-demand periods, so ensure they’re trained up in the right areas and try to get them involved in your planning, taking on board any suggestions they might have.
Whether your employees are working extra hard over the Christmas period, or you just want to acknowledge the work they’ve put in over the year, rewarding them for all their hard work with some Christmas treats can be a great way to increase retention and boost morale.
Decorate Staff Spaces
Where it’s safe to do so, add some Christmas décor to staff spaces. This doesn’t need to be limited to retail stores and restaurants; consider adding some festive fun to staff kitchens, canteens, or offices.
To really give your business a boost this Christmas, try training your employees to upsell certain items, services, or bundle deals. For example, ‘discounted wrapping supplies when you spend X amount on gift items’.
It is very common for businesses, particularly in the retail or hospitality sector, to hire temporary Christmas staff to help cope with increased demand. Not only will this help your business to operate smoothly, but it will take some of the stress and pressure off your existing staff. Make sure seasonal staff feel like part of the team by hosting an informal team meeting on the day they start, with some short ice-breaker games or even a Christmas quiz.
Staff Christmas Party
Whether you’re going for a meal and some drinks or pulling out all the stops and hiring a venue for an all-night disco, a staff Christmas party is great way to boost morale, and help your employees get to know each other better. Get your invites out nice and early to ensure the best attendance, especially if travel and accommodation need to be considered.
Don’t forget that Christmas is a busy time for everyone, not just businesses. Lots of employees will take time off so they can do their own Christmas shopping, spend time with family, and make preparations for the day! Remind employees to get any Christmas holiday requests in early, so you can make sure you’ve got enough staff to cover busy periods, whilst ensuring everyone gets the time off they need.
Discounts on Gifts
Give a little something back by offering your employees a bonus discount when they do their Christmas shopping with you, or recommend your products or services to a friend
Reward Hard Work
Counteract some of the busy season stress, by making work extra fun over Christmas! Consider relaxing your dress code or even having a Christmas-themed fancy dress day.
Quiet Over Christmas?
Many businesses may find Christmas a much quieter time, especially in the B2B space. As everyone winds down for the holidays, it can be much harder to get your business in front of key decision makers.
But that doesn’t mean you can just put your feet up and relax! As we all know, finding a quiet period is rare in business, and that means lots of things can fall by the wayside as we tackle more important tasks.
For businesses that are quieter during the festive season, this is a great opportunity to catch up on any housekeeping tasks that you may have fallen behind on. Go through your inbox and have a clear out, respond to any missed customer messages and enquiries on your social media, and start planning any changes you’re wanting to make in the new year.
Make sure your documents, bills, and contracts are in shape. Are you getting the best deal on your business energy contract? Are all your documents up to date? Is it time to look for a more advanced insurance plan?
It’s also a great time to reflect on the year and delve into analytics. Find out what your best marketing campaigns were, assess the efficiency of your operations, or spend some time doing competitor research.
Use this quiet period to make sure you’re prepared for things to get busy again and wrap up any lose ends before the break.
No matter what kind of business you run, Christmas is an exciting time and a great opportunity to boost your bottom line, as well as spread some festive cheer. With careful planning, you can stay one step ahead of the rush, and make sure you’re prepared for the new year
Preparing Your Business for the New Year
Is your business ready for the new year? Make sure you get your contracts in order so you can relax over Christmas.