It’s Your Busy Season. Don’t Drop the Ball.

Every startup has a busy season, and for many that time is right around the corner. Last year, Thanksgiving and Black Friday saw record online sales, $1.06 billion and $1.93 billion, respectively.

Whether a company is engaged in traditional retail, ecommerce or the travel industry, being prepared for the influx of customers is essential for success.

Busy periods are stressful for everyone but often mean the difference between being in the red and getting in the black.

Companies prepping for a flood of buyers this holiday season should do the following:

1. Ask key questions to plan.

When a flood of orders suddenly rolls in, figure out the answers to these questions: How much merchandise is needed and when? How long will it take suppliers to provide the product?

Where does a supply originate from and how will that affect the company’s distribution cycle?

2. Critically examine staffing.

Will the company need to bring in temporary or part-time workers to make it through the next few weeks or months?

Figure out how many extra staffers to bring on. Don’t forget to factor in the time it will take to recruit, hire and train these individuals.

The holidays are a great time to make an awesome first impression on a new client and the company won’t want a newbie to drop the ball. Give new hires a little time to get up to speed and accustomed to the organization’s brand guidelines and voice.

3. Practice on a smaller scale.

Throughout the year, do run-throughs to prep for the busy season. If the company is selling online, test the website and online ordering system. Look for bugs and broken links and fix them.

Pay attention to lead times and shipping schedules and factor in that this might be increased during holiday season due to heavy demand by other businesses.

4. Consider how to handle mistakes.

No matter how prepared a company is, it could run out of stock unexpectedly or send an order late. The real question is, How will the organization respond?

Set contingency plans for any foreseeable issue that might crop up. Is the team ready? Think of this preparation as a fire drill. If everyone isn’t out on the playground within two minutes, it’s time to practice some more.

Word-of-mouth is powerful in a viral world. That’s why it’s important to reach out to customers to ensure a great experience. At my company, The Bouqs Co., if a customer has a less-than-perfect experience, it’s rectified. Not only are replacement flowers or a refund offered, but a personal explanation is provided.

The busy season can be challenging, but it’s also a chance for a company to shine. Being successful is just a matter of thinking ahead and having a clear strategy.

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