The colder months are drawing in and that can only mean, the festive season shall soon be upon us. You can expect a lot more sales to be made, as more and more first-time customers begin to discover who you are. The issue for every single business at this time of year is, how to balance sales, stock, and storage expectations? If your sales are going up, you need to order more of your products and potentially, increase the capacity of your services. All the while, you must make sure inventory management is improving so stock isn’t wasted and you don’t order too much or too little. If you’re a small business and you would like to be prepared for every eventuality, we have made a list of priorities you should focus on.
Handling customer calls
Every business needs to have a great phone system as well as professionals who can answer these phones. Normally, a business would have a professional front desk, that can not only answer general queries about your business such as opening times and email addresses or information about returns but also, direct clients to the department that can handle their needs too. However, most small businesses don’t have this kind of service, which can lead to ‘spillage’ in terms of customers. You could bag a lot more sales if you started using virtual receptionist services. You can choose a welcome or greeting message and have it be used upon answering. You can also take messages, which can either be sent to you via email or recorded in brief and sent to your voicemail. Test the service for 7 days and if you like it, your transition to the full-time service can be done within a day or two.
In 2020, we have become much more trusting of artificial intelligence. This is all part of the fourth industrial revolution, whereby our data becomes automated and algorithms help us to accurately predict behaviors.
Using A.I. you can predict which products will be chosen more often than others, and thus, ask your employees to select them from storage, ready to be packed. Warehouses have already begun to implement inventory management software which has this kind of technology integrated into their systems.
Define your vision. If you believe that a certain type of product you sell will be front and center this festive season, then put measures in place to make the selling of this product easier. In other words, assign this product it’s own allocation of packaging, moves it closer to the loading bay, train employees how to handle it, and prioritize any orders that involve the product, etc.
Calculate the overall costs. If you believe you can save money or spend more money on inventory management, invest or cut whenever you can. The bottom line is, if you have streamlined something, you can afford to spend less on it, and use those funds to support another area.
Reaffirm the chain of command
Some business owners will give their employees a pep talk before the festive season begins. Something along the lines of, staying calm, helping each other, and remaining focussed becomes the rallying cries of the motivational speech. However, this is all well and good but it doesn’t address some issues.
Where do employees go with a problem? It’s a good idea to not overload the managers if you can help it, so temporarily promote someone to a supervisor if you haven’t got one. This allows simple questions or problems to be solved by the most skilled employee before it gets to middle-management.
Remind employees to bring important issues to their managers. If there is a software issue, perhaps consumers aren’t liking a part of the marketing campaign or if refunds are not being paid, bring this up with the manager. Any other time you can afford to be a day or two late, but everything backs up and creates a traffic jam around the festive season.
The worst thing anyone under pressure can do is panic. That’s why bringing some hot chocolate and pastries to the office in the middle of the week could be a godsend. It allows employees to realize, they are part of the holiday rush too, and they should just stay calm, and live in the moment. Managers and upper-management should be a symbol of calmness and resolve, so reaffirm your people skills as the CEO.
The busy season is weeks away but it’s a good idea to start getting ready for it now. It will last for a couple of months and will play a huge role in your financial performance for the year, especially in 2020.