Most businesses experience fluctuations in demand and it’s not always easy to predict such things as staffing requirements, quantities of stock, storage space needs and sales. The majority of organisations have quiet times and rush times, and being prepared for the next rush can become a critical factor in determining overall annual profitability.
Christmas is one of the biggest rush generators in the world, although there are holidays and celebrations in every country and culture that involve similar revenue opportunities and planning problems. In retailing terms, Christmas begins well before October when the first decorations appear in stores, along with Christmas cards and a massive increase in the range and quantity of toys available from retailers.
Plan staffing needs early
People are needed to help most businesses cope with holiday rush periods, yet there’s every likelihood that this will also be the hardest time to get staff because they’re planning holidays themselves. Line up your supplementary staff early and get commitments from your permanent staff that they’ll be there when you need them.
If you’re a retailer and intend to sell products that are specific to the theme of the forthcoming rush, get your orders in early and follow up with suppliers for delivery. Be realistic in your calculations, but realise that if you under order there’s a very good chance you won’t be able to get additional stock in time to meet the seasonal demand.
Customers plan ahead too
Even though there’s usually a last-minute rush at holiday times, there are also many customers who plan ahead to beat the rush and will do their purchasing early. Don’t be slow in bringing out the seasonal music and decorations; this includes carrying the theme over to your website and your advertising.
Websites are especially flexible. You can put seasonal goods on a separate page and have a prominent link on your welcoming page that will attract early purchasers. Let this area be developed over a period of a month or two until it becomes your featured area as the rush gets underway.
Remember too that people often shop for presents to send to friends and relatives overseas. They need to be able to make a purchase and have it despatched to another country, and to have it arrive before a designated time.
Don’t lose the space race
A very important consideration for any business with times of the year when extra stock is required is - where to put it? If your own premises won’t be able to accommodate your needs, prospect neighbouring businesses to see if one of them can rent you the space you need. It’s also possible to find a broker who’s looking for a long term tenant but who can let out space on a short term basis until the permanent tenant is found.
To make use of the opportunities such holidays and other rush periods represent takes a lot of forward planning and preparation. Orders have to be placed, stock has to be stored and distributed, and advertising and other promotions have to be planned well in advance. The earlier preparations begin, the more likely it is that the hoped for revenues and profits will be realised.