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  • Small Biz Holiday Checklist

    Small Biz Holiday Checklist

    The holiday shopping season is upon us! Once it begins, it can feel like a snowball gaining speed by the second and before you know it, you’re flipping the calendar to January and wondering what just happened. As we celebrate Small Business Season, keep these holiday preparation tips from the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce in mind: 

    1. Take the time to plan NOW! Set aside a few hours or a day before the chaos begins to plan your holiday season. Think about:
    • Holiday Hours- What will your holiday hours be? Be sure to update your social media and Google listing! Consider staying open later at those prime shopping times- it may be exhausting, but it’s just a short time and those extra sales will make up for it! 
    • Holiday Specials or Sales- Are you offering any holiday specials? Be sure your inventory is adequate, whether that is a certain product line or serving vessels for food items. If you offer holiday gift wrapping, be sure you have plenty of wrapping papers and/or gift bags and tissue paper. (Tip: Buy plain brown kraft bags and put a special holiday version sticker of your logo on them. You can use different sizes and customize with ribbon or fun tissue paper.) Keep in mind that with current supply chain issues, some things may be hard to get or take longer. 
    • Holiday Events- Are there special holiday shopping events in your area that will affect traffic? Do you need to plan for extra staff on certain days or times? Check with your local merchants’ association to find out what special events are planned and how you can be part of it. 
    1. Make your marketing special. Set your shop or restaurant apart from the rest. It doesn’t take much to offer a special touch and customers will remember it. 
    • Make social media your friend! It’s FREE! Take a day to batch all of your social media images and plan them out. Try user-friendly Canva if you enjoy design to easily create beautiful images. Not your thing? Then work with a local graphic designer- it’s worth the money (and takes stress off your plate)! Use a planner tool like Hootsuite to plan out your entire holiday season so you don’t have to think about it. (But do schedule time each day to engage with your online audience.) 
    • Promote EARLY and promote OFTEN! Be the first one out of the gate with holiday specials and don’t be afraid to keep sharing. The old “Marketing Rule of 7s” suggests that consumers must see a message seven times before taking action.  
    • Do you offer online shopping? Be sure your online e-commerce site is up to date! Also be sure it’s optimized for mobile- over 70% of consumers use their smartphones to do their online shopping, so your e-commerce site needs to be mobile friendly and easy to navigate. (Back to planning- ensure that your inventory is sufficient to cover online shopping needs and that your inventory management system stays up to date.) Consider free shipping- build an extra percentage into the cost of online items instead of charging shipping. There’s interesting research around the psychology of free shipping- check it out!  

    (Speaking of online shopping… Be very, very clear about your holiday shipping deadlines. Let people know the last date they can buy online to receive it in time. Add shipping costs to those last-minute purchases (consumers expect to pay for rush orders!). Don’t put yourself in a place where customers get upset or leave bad reviews because they thought they could order on December 23 and receive it by Christmas.) 

    • Consider partnering up with another local business to create complementary specials. Maybe a cafe gives 10% off lunch if the customer shows their same-day receipt from the boutique next door. Or the gift shop gives a BOGO coupon to a local attraction to a customer who spends $50 or more. Support a fellow local business and purchase $5 gift cards to the local coffee shop and put them in random bags or to the first five customers each day. This not only creates camaraderie but makes customers enjoy the holiday spirit! 
    1. Make your space special. Channel your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie set in a small town. 
    • Decorate your space- some people love to go ALL OUT with their holiday decorating. If that’s you, great! If it’s not, don’t worry- simple decorations are still beautiful. Don’t underestimate the beauty of twinkly lights! (Another tip: don’t use Christmas-specific decorations- use more generic winter decorations and leave them up through January!) 
    • Consider inviting your customers to a special shopping experience. Offer snacks, hot apple cider or hot chocolate, and play festive music. Give special coupons or let them choose an ornament with a special offer. (Don’t forget the twinkly lights!)
    1. Don’t feel like you have to do it all. We all have families and other obligations during the holiday season. Decide what’s most important to you and your family. Are there traditions or activities that you don’t want to miss? Put it on the calendar. Know what your priorities are and stick to them. Maybe that means hiring extra staff for the holiday season. Maybe it means scheduling special activities on slower days or times. Don’t let the hustle and bustle keep you from the true meaning of the season. 

    How are you making the most of this Small Business Season? Tag us on social media (@GARCCVA on Facebook, @augustavachamber on Instagram) so we can help share your holiday fun! Download this handy checklist to help you manage the season.

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