The third quarter of the year is known to be a difficult one for most businesses. The excitement of summer is past, and people aren’t quite ready to start holiday shopping. Making sure you bring in money and save funds in Q3 may mean the difference between success and failure for some companies. Increasing sales between July and September requires creativity and determination.
Goldman Sachs predicts a 6.2% decline in GDP for 2020, making the entire next year difficult for business owners. However, it also predicts the third quarter will see a rebound, making 2020 an unusual year where you may or may not be busier than usual. Since no one is quite sure what will happen, you should always ready your company for the third quarter to keep things moving, but doing so now may be more critical than ever. You’ll also need to streamline everything you can to save money for a hopefully more profitable fourth quarter.
In addition to the physical changes for many stores these days, you should also consider the concerns of customers and areas where your business might grow. Here are eight things to look at and see if your small business is ready to move into the next quarter successfully.
1. Update Your Website
Before the busy holiday season hits is an excellent time to update your website and cut any unnecessary clutter. Improve everything from the images on your page to your headlines to your calls to action (CTAs). Since many people shop online now, ramp up your storefront and figure out the best method of shipping to out-of-area customers.
Look for things impacting the usability of your site. Are any images bulky? Does the site load quickly enough? Keep the focus on the objective for the page and remove anything not moving the user through the buyer’s journey.
2. Maintain Your Building
If business slows, it’s a good time to tackle some of those building maintenance projects you’ve put off. Add a fresh coat of paint to give the interior an update. Improve signage throughout so employees and customers know the process to move through the store.
Check your A/C unit and change out filters, so it runs at maximum efficiency and saves you a little on cooling costs. Remove anything blocking the flow of air to the outside unit. You don’t want uncomfortable employees, so keep the temperature at a moderate level.
3. Learn FLSA Requirements
Save money on payroll and follow legal requirements at the same time. Recent changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act require companies to pay overtime to certain employees. Pay attention to the changes, and make sure you’re complying with regulations. Overtime can add up, so it might be wiser to hire a second employee or someone part-time instead.
4. Contact Insurance and Suppliers
If business is a bit slower, you can save money by reducing your expenses. Start with your insurance. Contact your company and ask for ideas to lower your costs while still keeping the coverage you need. You may want to gather quotes from several companies.
Also, call all your suppliers and request a reduction in costs. If you’re a repeat customer, they may offer free shipping or a slight discount. It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask for one and may save you money.
5. Host Preholiday Sales
Christmas in July is the perfect example of ways to host creative sales and draw in foot traffic. If you have inventory that hasn’t moved in several months, look at ways to offer a discount on it. Tout your sales as getting your shopping done before the holiday rush.
Think through the gifts people tend to buy for Christmas and package items together for easy shopping. You might want to offer ideas for significant other, boss, teacher, best friend and others. People love to save money, and many may take you up on the early shopping invitation.
6. Review HR Policies
One thing costing companies money is not having enough workers’ compensation insurance or putting policies in place that drive your best employees out the door. Take a look at your insurance first and make sure it’s up-to-date. Next, review policies. If you’ve conducted exit interviews with employees who left, you may find some responses about rules they hated. Can you improve those, so you don’t lose valuable workers?
It costs time and money to fill a position and train a new candidate. You’ll save funds and aggravation by keeping the excellent workers you already have. Look for ways to improve the company culture so they’ll want to stay with your business for the long term.
7. Create a Content Calendar
Now is the time to prep your content for Q4. Business will likely tick upward as the holidays approach. You won’t have time to think about advertising campaigns and what to put on your blog. Now is the perfect time to plan promotions and create content. Utilize Buffer or Hootsuite and schedule posts so you don’t even have to think about what gets posted when.
Consult with your marketing department to ensure your content matches planned sales or other strategies. The more consistently you present offers, the more likely customers will take you up on it.
8. Get Ready for Outreach
The holidays are so close. Get your cards ready to send out to your favorite customers to thank them for their business. Invite them to come in for an early preview of the items you’ll have available when Q4 hits. If you can host a party this year, plan it ahead of time and decide who you’ll invite. Keep in mind part of the reason for hosting an event is publicity, so include a few local journalists on your invitation list.
While you prepare any mailings, you should also clean up your list. If any emails bounce regularly, delete them. See who opens your news and who ignores it and decide whether you want to keep them on your list. After all, it costs money based on how many subscribers you have. Segment your audience so you can reach them on a more personal level moving forward.
Look for Weaknesses
One of the best ways to decide whether your business is ready for Q3 is by looking for any weaknesses. Perhaps your employees need more customer service training. Maybe you should upgrade your technology before the holidays arrive. Go through each step and figure out places for improvement. With a bit of extra attention, your company will thrive even during the slowest seasons and most trying times.
business preparations – DepositPhotos