Is Your Small Business Ready for the Busy Season?

Spring has sprung and customers are coming out of hibernation. If sunny days kick off your busy season, get ready now with these helpful tips.

Take time to reflect. Schedule time to review the activity of prior busy seasons. Capitalize and expand on what worked well and anticipate or take actions to avoid potential complications, like having too many people on vacation during major sales events.

Staff appropriately. To avoid surprises, touch base now with prior contract workers to make sure they’ll be available for hire again. If you’re hiring new help, hire them early so that they can be well trained. When your organization is running at full tilt, you don’t want your staff to be distracted by a flood of questions from new hires.

Check inventory and equipment levels. Order what you need to ensure smooth daily operations with no hiccups. Interruptions can become costly when customers need you most.

Work ahead. Do what you can in advance to get ready: assemble parts, build product, print letters, craft emails, and schedule meetings and flights. You can use the free version of Hootsuite to schedule up to 30 social media posts in advance and manage up to two social profiles from one place with one password.

Touch base. You should already be reaching out to your customers on a regular basis, but it’s especially important to reconnect with them before your busy season. Make sure they think of you first when buying revs up. Brainstorm unique ways to get in front of your established customers and to attract new ones. Requesting your team’s input will boost morale and get everyone thinking and geared up for the approaching storm. Reward those who contribute winning ideas and you’ll soon have a team full of innovation and creativity — and a bigger bottom line! Consider these proven tactics:

• Feature a limited-time sale

• Create a loyalty program

• Offer referral rewards.

Learn what your customers want. Don’t guess — ask. Discover what your customers like and don’t like about your business. Today, there are many ways to mine that information.

• Start “at home” for free. Ask your customer service reps what customers are praising about your company or what common pain points customers are having that you can solve.

• Conduct a customer satisfaction survey. Keep your surveys brief and be sure to structure questions to glean unbiased responses. Maintain focused on what data will provide the best feedback for your business and avoid inquiring about a customer’s salary, age, or ethnicity, etc. Ask for essential contact info, but assure customers that their responses and information will not be shared with any third parties. Be sure to send your survey to a small insider test group before sending your official mailing. If you do receive an overwhelmingly negative response, a timely personal email or call might impress and save that customer. Discover which free survey-builder app might be right for you.

• Read the reviews and know what customers are saying about you online. This gives you a chance to see where there’s room for improvement. According to a recent survey conducted by BrightLocal, 86% of customers read reviews for local businesses, and the influence of Customer Generated Content continues to grow each year. 57% of customers want to see at least a four-star rating when considering a business — up from 48% in 2017. And 27% of customers reported looking online daily for local businesses in 2018 — more than double the percent reported in 2017. Check out how you’re being rated on social media sites, job posting boards, plus the Better Business Bureau, and make sure people “love you” on Yelp.

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