Guest Blogger: Fourth Quarter Time
Today Guest Blogger, Carol “Orange” Schroeder, speaks from experience about retailing in the 4th Quarter.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.orangetreeimports.com/image/main/32/image?width=160[/author_image] [author_info] Carol, today’s guest blogger, and her husband Dean, have owned Orange Tree Imports in Madison, WI for over 35 years. Carol has written about her experiences in her book Specialty Shop Retailing: Everything You Need to Know to Run Your Own Store (John Wiley & Sons), and has bi-monthly columns in Gifts and Decorative Accessories magazine. You can follow her blog at specialtyshopretailing.com. [/author_info] [/author]
In the world of music, quarter time usually indicates a waltz. But in retailing, fourth quarter time means more of a jitterbug as we try frantically to keep up with the demands of our customers. Since this week officially marks the start of the 4th quarter — Christmas in now just three months away — it is a good time to do some advance planning to help you get through the holidays as smoothly as possible.
Just for fun, let’s work backwards by starting to think about January. If you plan to do any advertising to bring customers back into the store after the holidays are over, now would be a good time to put that in place. Believe me, you won’t want to be doing it on December 20.
How about taking your start-of-the year physical inventory? If you usually do this around January 1, you’ll want to get it on your employees’ calendar soon so that they can plan to help out. We avoid New Year’s Day itself, but close on another Sunday after the 1st in order to do our counts (and get things in good order for the coming year).
What are your plans for the week after Christmas? You probably already know what your post-holiday sale offer will be, so there is no reason not to get your ad designed and scheduled now. If you are planning on promoting via email blast or Facebook, you can decide when these will go live. You can even go to your scheduled posts on Facebook now and add “boosts” to a targeted audience.
Staffing is often an issue on Christmas Eve and in the days following the holiday, so now would be a good time to check with your staff about their travel plans. At our shop we are only open from 10 to 2 on Christmas Eve (which will hurt this year, since if falls on a Saturday), and we are usually closed on Boxing Day. This British and Canadian holiday is on December 26, and not needing staff that day gives everyone two days break after the busy season.
Are you planning to expand your hours from December 1 to 23? Will you need additional staff during that time? Start filling in your holiday schedule soon so that you’ll know if you have to hire. It can take several weeks from the time you post a position until the new hire is trained and ready to go.
Boxes and bags should also be ordered now so that you’ll have them on hand in late November for holiday gifts. This amount of lead time is especially important if you need anything custom printed. Gift boxes and wrapping are services that make shopping at your store more enjoyable than ordering online.
Continuing our backwards countdown brings us to Thanksgiving weekend. Don’t miss the opportunity provided by national coverage of Small Business Saturday. Encourage your community to join in the national celebration of the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend as a special time to support locally owned shops.
I hope that these tips help you “waltz” through this holiday season with ease, and that it’s a successful one for you.
Carol “Orange” Schroeder