November Business eNewsletter

Welcome to our November business eNewsletter focusing on a festive and profitable holiday season.

Quote of the month:
“This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!” – D.M. Dellinger

In this Issue…

Celebrate with Us: SpiritBank’s Holiday Christmas Party

Save the Date! Join us for our annual Christmas party!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018
5:30-7:30 p.m.
SpiritBank Tower
1800 S. Baltimore, Tulsa, OK

Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beverages in the Community Room and dessert in the Penthouse.

RSVP to Tandy Donald at tdonald@spiritbank.com or (918) 295-7438 by Thursday, November 29th.


16 Tips for Promoting Your Small Business Website During the Holidays
By Blair Williamson

If you’re reading this post, you already know that running a small business is hard work. And it only gets more difficult during the holiday season. As a small business owner, you may feel that each day with an “open” sign is a reason to celebrate. We get it.

HostGator is turning 16 years old, but like so many other businesses, HostGator started as a small business with a single client. Our customer base grew quickly from dozens to hundreds, and hundreds to thousands, and so can you!

We may be turning 16, but we’re celebrating you – small businesses – and helping you succeed with a birthday sale and 16 tips to promote your small business website during the holidays. Let’s get started!

1. Determine your holiday marketing budget.

Hopefully you have a regular budget set aside for online marketing. If not, it’s likely time to think about a budget, even a small marketing budget, particularly since some social media channels require a small “pay to play” amount. Yes, your Facebook business page is still free, but the Facebook algorithm gives high preference to sponsored posts and ads. As such, it’s harder to be seen in the busy news feed.

One solution is to work incredibly hard at organic posts – publishing your posts multiple times or offering giveaways if your fans will share your page. The quickest solution, however, may be to buy small ads or promoted posts to ensure that fans see your posts.

If you already have a marketing budget, great! Think about how much additional money you can contribute to your marketing budget during the holiday season.

2. Make a “set it and forget it” plan for social media marketing.

In the hustle and bustle of trying to work your business during the holiday season, give yourself a break by planning and pre-scheduling as much as you can. Social media may be the last thing on your mind when the holiday season ramps up, so create a social “set it and forget it” media promotion plan.

Creating and scheduling social media posts in advance can save you a ton of time during the busy season, and it will free up your mind to be more creative in the moment. Make a list of at least three posts per week that you can pre schedule. Your scheduled post can be as simple as a reminder of your holiday hours or as detailed as a featured item of the day or a blog post you’ve already written.

If social media content seems too overwhelming during the holiday season, consider hiring a freelance social media manager. You can find affordable freelancers on websites such as Fiverr. But hiring a freelancer doesn’t completely eliminate your need to be involved. A freelance social media manager will likely want to schedule a meeting with you to go over ideas, and may even request your approval of the content before posting to social media. A freelancer can certainly be helpful with on-demand needs such as if you expect to get more inbox messages on your page.

If you have social media-savvy staff members, consider giving them access to post on your social media accounts during the holiday season. Ultimately, be smart about what will pose the least risk for your business and will also help maximize your time during the holiday season.

3. Be sure that your physical location and office hours are correct and consistent.

Be sure that your physical location and office hours are correct and consistent across the internet. Don’t forget to check all mentions on your own website, all ‘about’ sections on social media, your Google My Business listings, and any other local listing websites.

In the long run, consistent information will give you credibility with search engines which may, in turn, list your website higher in search results. Take a few minutes to be sure all your information is correct and consistent.

If you have special holiday hours, be sure to list them and consider noting that they are, in fact, holiday hours. Customers are more likely to shop with you if they can trust that you’ll be open when your website says you will be open.

4. Offer a holiday coupon.

According to a 2016 CouponBox survey, coupons can increase revenue for retailers up to 40 percent. But what type of coupon should you offer? First of all, determine your profit margin and create a coupon that brings revenue without cutting into your profit margin. Create a coupon that will be intriguing for your customers, and share the coupon as often as you want – on social media, in email marketing, or even a traditional printed coupon stuffed into shopping bags for future purchases.

Create unique coupon codes for each coupon that you offer in order to track which coupons are most popular. For instance, have a coupon code such as “EMAIL” for email offers and a different code, such as “SHAREME,” to indicate coupons found via social media. At the end of the holiday season, count the coupon codes to know which coupons were most profitable for your business so that planning for next year will be easier.

Online coupons are very shareable, which can be in your favor, but keep in mind that online coupons can also be picked up by sites like RetailMeNot. Be sure you are able to sustain a coupon (and orders) on a large scale.

5. Develop an email marketing campaign to promote your sales & holiday promotions.

Email marketing is an efficient and cost-effective way to communicate with your customers. As social media feeds continue to limit timely exposure to your fanbase, email marketing allows your customers to see and open your emails on their own schedule. To make it easier on you, set up email automation by scheduling a series of emails to distribute throughout the holiday season. Use your email campaigns to promote the coupons, holiday gift guides, and other holiday sales you have going on during the holiday season.

6. Develop new ideas for your holiday campaigns by reviewing last year’s analytics.

You know that statement about learning from your past? You can apply the same concept to your holiday marketing efforts by looking at last year’s data to find ideas you can apply or tweak this year. Create a list of all your data and analytics that could be helpful such as Google Analytics, analytics from your email marketing software, and social media analytics for paid and organic posts.

Review your data from October to January, and look for trends such as what your audience reacted to, which posts received the most traffic, and what time of day your website received the most traffic. You can learn a lot from last year’s analytics that can help shape your holiday marketing strategy this year.

7. Build your following by co-sponsoring a giveaway with a complementary brand.

Word of mouth still has a strong influence on shoppers. One way you can capitalize on word of mouth is to partner with other small businesses or brands. Look for small businesses that offer products or services that would be of interest to your customers. Consider small businesses with a strong social media following that is larger than yours or has customers that are similar to yours. To double your exposure, both companies should tag the social media promotion.

8. Ask current customers for reviews.

Building on the word of mouth concept, customers are highly likely to read online reviews before purchasing. In fact, customers often read product reviews on multiple sites during their decision making process. According to research from BrightLocal, 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Online reviews are also important for search engine rankings. Websites may rank higher in search results if the company has reviews, especially positive reviews. If a customer has a positive experience with your business, encourage them to share it on one of the review sites. You can get started easily with reviews on Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp, or even reviews posted on your own website.

One thing to note – search engines usually want these reviews to be and feel organic. If you were to run a contest and encourage people to complete a review in order to enter the contest, Google may see this flood of reviews as spammy. Bottom line, keep it organic and honest.

9. Make sure your website is ready to handle the holiday traffic boost.

Many businesses start with a small, shared web hosting plan, but eventually reach the point where they need to upgrade. Small businesses may choose to upgrade their website hosting for more server space, more speed, or if they want a more secure server environment.

But how do you know if it’s time to upgrade to a dedicated server? If you’ve experienced slow website performance or if you keep highly sensitive information, it may be time to consider a dedicated server. During the holiday season, you’re likely to expect more traffic to your website, and upgrading to a dedicated server could the perfect solution to ensure your website is ready to handle the traffic spike.

10. Update your website to a mobile-friendly design template.

The rise of website traffic from mobile devices, as compared to desktop computers, continues to grow. Some people who browse the web on their mobile devices don’t mind seeing the full website, but others want to find the information as quickly as possible. You can make your website responsive, meaning the layout adjusts based on the screen size of the user. As your customers are out on the road during the holiday season, they will certainly appreciate being able to access your website from their mobile phone or tablet. Added perk? Google will give higher search engine ranking preference to websites that are responsive.

11. Add social media links and feeds to your website.

Social media is a channel that offers high return for sharing content with your fans, but did you know that you can make it easier for your fans to share your content across social media? Add social share buttons to your website so fans can hit one button and quickly share your content without ever leaving your website. Consider adding a social media feed to your website, either on the sidebar or embedded in a page, so website visitors can easily see the sales or promotions you may have on social media.

12. Offer exclusive events for your members or top customers.

Throw a holiday-themed party for your customers to encourage brand loyalty. If you can, time the event with a product preview, product launch, or a “sip and see” for your new product line. Promote the event on your website, in an email invitation, and even on social media. Try to host this party early in the season such as October or November when your cu stomers begin to think about holiday shopping.

13. Create a holiday gift guide.

As you know, shopping for everyone on your holiday gift list can be overwhelming. Make shopping easier for your customers by creating a holiday gift guide. A holiday gift guide organizes the best of your products and gifts into categories based on the gift recipient, dollar amount, or by theme. For example, sort products by gifts for her, gifts for him, gifts under $50, gifts for teens, gifts for the home, and more.

A guide will highlight your products, make shopping easier for your customers, and will be easy for your customers to share with their friends.

14. Reorganize your website by gift categories or themes.

Now that you’ve created a holiday gift guide, consider updating the main navigation of your website to match your holiday shopping categories. Many people visiting your website during November and December will likely be purchasing gifts. Make it easy for them to find your top recommended gifts so they will be more likely to purchase.

15. Bring customers back to your site by remarketing on social media.

Have you ever searched for a product online and later saw an ad for the same product on social media? That’s a feature called remarketing that allows you to reconnect with people that have visited your website. You can use remarketing ads on social media platforms, on Google search, and in other websites that support display marketing ads. A remarketing campaign is an effective method to ensure customers keep thinking about your product and have easy access to the link when they are ready to buy.

16. Take website security seriously. Get an SSL certificate.

Website security should be a top priority for you year-round, but especially during the holiday season. During the holidays, more people are shopping online, but so are hackers who are shopping for credit card information or personal data.

If you haven’t heard, in July 2018, Google Chrome released a security update that will alert your website visitors if your website doesn’t have security measures in place. An SSL certification is meant to create a secure transaction of personal information such as contact information and credit card data. If you don’t have an SSL certificate, your website visitors will receive an alert message discouraging them from checking out on your website.

What can you do about it? Many web hosting companies offer SSL certificates for purchase and they are usually a low-cost option to securing your website. If you don’t have an SSL certificate and aren’t sure if you can get one, switch to HostGator where a free SSL certificate comes with all web hosting packages.

In conclusion…

With 16 tips for how to promote your small business website during the holidays, there’s bound to be a few that would work for your business. Try them out and let us know your results!

What are your “must do” tips for other small businesses? Comment below with your best advice for how to promote a small business website during the holidays!

Read this article HostGator.com

7 Tips to Throw an Awesome Holiday Party on a Budget
By Jessica Stillman, Contributor

You don’t need to spend a lot to bring people together for the season.

Holiday party season can be rough on your waistline, tough on your schedule, and, if you’re an introvert, even a strain on your state of mind. But if you’re the boss of a fledgling business without a lot to spend, it’s also rough on your wallet.

Still, just because you’re a frugal entrepreneur, doesn’t mean you’re a grinch. You want to celebrate the season, bring your people together, and reward them for all their hard work. Is it possible to do it without breaking your budget? Certainly say a range of experts who offer a host of tips for both personal and professional holiday entertaining.

1. Choose your time carefully

When you think party, you probably assume a night-time event, but whether you’re hosting a personal or professional event, a daytime get together will probably cost you way less and be just as fun. Consider “a brunch, barbecue, pool party, or game day gathering,” suggests Due.com (the pool party idea obviously isn’t the best choice for work events). “While you still have to provide food and drinks, these items are often less expensive.”

Inc.com HR expert Suzanne Lucas agrees that opting for a daytime event can save those hosting office parties money too. “Hold the party during working hours and at the office. You don’t have to rent a room, and you win the hearts of employees who would rather not spend their precious free time with their coworkers. Order pizza and soda. Cupcakes are still a big hit,” she notes.

Or, if you’re really looking to save some money and you’re feeling flexible, you might even go so far as to schedule your holiday get together for January. “It will be cheaper to do it after the holiday rush and before wedding season kicks in. Hotel banquet rooms are open. Caterers aren’t booked. Even that swanky band you want is more likely to be available, and at a cheaper price, in January. Plus, January is generally a miserable month, so give your employees something to look forward to, at a discounted price,” she adds.

2. Don’t have a party at all

This isn’t a suggestion for grinches, really. It’s a suggestion for generous bosses who understand that their employees may prefer a little time off during the crazy holiday period to some semi-required socializing with their colleagues.

In lieu of the annual holiday shindig, “close the office at noon on a Wednesday and send everyone home, with pay. Label it a shopping day. If you’ve got the funds, give everyone a $50 gift certificate to the local mall, grocery store, or department store,” Lucas offers.

3. Go green

Environmental awareness is a great excuse to save yourself some money, points out Due.com (not to mention being a positive aim in itself). “Unless it’s for a more formal event, like a wedding, there’s really no reason to send out paper invitations,” notes the post. “The same is true with paper and plastic plates, silverware, and glasses. Washing them may be a hassle, but using the dinnerware that you already own cuts out this unnecessary expense.” And fret not, they really don’t need to match.

4. Skip the sit down meal

Serving dinner to a crowd isn’t just a hassle, it’s also expensive. “Potlucks or simple buffets are certainly less costly than sit-down, seven-course dinners. Pare it down even further by hosting a brunch, dessert or cocktail party,” advises Bankrate.com.

5. Choose a “signature drink”

Don’t have the funds to stock a full bar? Then choose a “signature drink” instead and help your guests feel festive for less. “Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a variety of alcohol. Instead, come up with a signature cocktail that matches your theme. This way you’re only purchasing one or two types of alcohol,” Due.com recommends.

If it’s a New Year’s event and champagne is called for, offering a champagne cocktail will make your money go further than straight bubbly, Allison Julius, co-owner of Maison 24, notes in the Bankrate post.

6. Combine parties with other companies

“If you share an office building with other companies, ask them to consider sharing the space and costs of throwing a holiday party. This will make for a more festive and social event, while saving both companies money on decorations, entertainment, catering, and more,” suggests Pinnacle Cart.

7. Opt for activities

Pinnacle Cart also offers alternatives to the usual mingle and drink holiday party format that are both more interesting and likely to save you some money. Why not host a baking competition if you think your staff would enjoy it, for instance? Or swap the holiday party for a charity event or a matinee movie outing (staff with kids might want the option to opt out and run errands instead, as per Lucas’s idea above).

“There are so many great charities that really pick up steam and need extra help around the holidays. Mix holiday fun with giving back by volunteering your staff to work at a local food bank, wrap presents at the mall, or sing holiday songs at senior homes. You could ask your staff for suggestions on their favorite place to volunteer and then pull one from a hat to decide. These types of holiday experiences can double as team building, as they provide great bonding experiences between co-workers,” explains Pinnacle Cart.

Read this article at the Inc.com

21 Holiday Promotion Ideas for Small Businesses
By Megan Sullivan

The holidays can be fraught with stress or full of joy or maybe even a combination of both.

As a small business owner, you probably feel pressure toward the end of the year to up your sales and do a final push to your annual revenue goal. You might also be interested in clearing inventory off your shelves to start the new year with fresh products and fresh opportunities.

How can you leverage the holiday season, a time of year when people are more prone to frequent your store or website and spend their money?

Below are 21 different types of small business promotion ideas for the holiday season. Use these holiday marketing ideas to capitalize on the end of the year rush – and all of those customers working through a candy cane-induced sugar high.

Hosting On-Site Events

If you run a brick and mortar business, the holiday season is the perfect time to show off your location and increase your foot traffic. Even people who have never visited before might be more apt to at this time of year, especially if they’re looking for a special gift.

1. Participate in Small Business Saturday

Don’t compete with the Black Friday deals of your larger competitors.

The popularity of Small Business Saturday allows you to take advantage of someone else’s marketing dollar. This event was started by American Express to promote small businesses the day after Thanksgiving and provide more exposure over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Do what large businesses can’t and shower customers with personal attention on Small Business Saturday.

2. Participate in Farmer’s Markets and Other Local Events

Take your show on the road and showcase your business at local community events and festivals that highlight other small businesses in your area.

Leveraging your own networks in combination with the free advertising that comes with Farmer’s Markets, Christmas fairs or Holiday festivals. If you choose to have a booth or exhibit at an already established event it will give you exposure to an entirely new group of people who are already eager to spend money.

3. Plan In-Store Events or Parties

Are you a small cooking supply store? Host a cookie decorating party the first Saturday in December. If you’re a paint-your-own-pottery place, offer a special event with Christmas themed pieces. Perhaps a tree decorating contest would appeal to your customer – you supply the trees and the decorations and your attendees provide a festive window and store display for the season.

Hosting in-store events requires extra planning and probably a few extra hands, but getting people through the doors is the first step in completing a sale. Give them a fun reason to stop by and make it about more than a transaction to generate goodwill among your customers.

4. Extend Your Shopping Hours

Increase the hours your physical location is open or lengthen the time for online support or chat. Giving customers the added convenience of more time to shop will help your bottom line.

5. Partner with a Local Charity

People feel particularly altruistic at the end of the year. One Christmas marketing idea is to partner with a local charity. This partnership can take many forms:

Local Food Bank – Every customer that brings in a non-perishable food item receives a coupon.
Toy Drive – Every customer that brings in a new, unwrapped toy receives a coupon or additional discount on their purchase.
One for you, one for them – For every “x” item sold, you (the business owner) will donate a similar item to an appropriate charity.

6. Offer Gift-Wrapping Services

If you have space, gift wrapping services are a great value-add for many customers. Another option is to combine this offering with the local charity option. Many school groups, Boy Scout or Girl Scout troops look for volunteer opportunities at this time of year, and offering free gift wrapping services might fit the bill.

Point of Purchase Opportunities

Once your customer is through the door and standing at the register, how can you best ensure they return? Or even just pass along a good word-of-mouth review to their friends?

Here are a few point of purchase options that will bring customers back again.

7. Give Gifts with Purchase

It may be a cliche, but people love getting something for “nothing.” Offering specific gifts with purchase, whether it’s dictated by price point (e.g., receive this tote when you spend $50 in store) or works as a gift to complement their purchase (e.g., buy a pair of sneakers and get a pair of socks for free), this sales promotion idea leaves customers with a smile.

Consider staggering your gifts with purchase throughout the holiday season to maximize on return visits. Make sure to promote these gifts via your social media channels, email lists, and websites.

8. Offer Bounceback Coupons

Coupons at any time of the year are great, but they are especially handy during the holidays when gift lists grow long and expensive. Offer people coupons with their purchase that are valid throughout the following weeks of the shopping season to have them coming back for more.

9. Use Gift Cards / Gift Certificates to Double Sales

Hopefully, you’re already offering gift cards or certificates, but if you’re not, consider making it an option this year. These gift cards not only bring people into your store to make the initial purchase, but they also bring new people in for redemption.

This sales promotion idea is pretty easy to set up on your website, which gives you a fairly passive revenue stream at this important time of year. And, you don’t have to worry about inventory, or not having the “exact” right gift for whomever your customer is shopping for; a gift card means the recipient can return whenever they want and pick out the perfect thing for themselves.

10. Set up Mobile Checkout

If your store tends to get busy during the holidays or you have a small space, consider implementing mobile checkout.

Equip your staff with a credit card reader and a smartphone or tablet to make it easy for customers to check out. This cuts down on guest frustration and allows your team to move about the store freely without being stuck behind the register all day. This can also help to cut down on loss prevention.

Online Holiday Marketing Ideas

You’re probably more than aware that ramping up your marketing during the holiday is a given. But where do you begin? Let’s examine some effective options for marketing your small business holiday promotions.

11. Use Email to Promote Everything

If you have an email list of past customers, make sure you leverage it during the holidays. Promote everything: in-store events, sales, gifts with purchase, Small Business Saturday… everything.

If your website has a shopping cart feature, consider investing in shopping cart reminder emails. While it’s true that nearly 7 out of 10 shoppers will abandon their shopping cart, 6 out of 10 typically return to make a purchase if they receive a reminder email.

12. Refresh Your Website

You don’t need a complete overhaul, but a minor website refresh for the holiday season could go a long way to securing more sales.

Add some festive graphics; take some new photos of key products or inventory; add a welcome letter that talks about the holiday season and thanks your customers for making your year successful.

13. Revamp Your Search Engine Optimization Strategy

Take the time to analyze your current Google Adwords or SEO campaigns and optimize them for the holiday season.

It’s also worth taking a few minutes to check all of the links on your website and through social media to ensure everything is working properly. Broken links can hurt your SEO and lead to missing sales.

14. Stream Facebook and Youtube Live Videos

Social media small business promotion is its own category, but don’t overlook the power of video on sites like Facebook and YouTube. People use Facebook Live every day to promote their products or showcase their services.

These live streaming options are the perfect venue to offer classes, product demonstrations, and online exclusive events.

15. Update Your Online Business Listings

Make sure to update your store’s holiday hours on your Google business listing, Yelp, Facebook page, Twitter profile, and Instagram handle. You’ll want potential customers to have access to as much updated information as possible during these critical weeks.

16. Use Facebook Events to Promote In-Store Experiences

Create Facebook events that highlight your in-store or onsite parties.

Post pictures from previous years and make sure you have someone monitoring the event page to answer any questions.

Facebook events are also a great venue for answering any questions attendees may have in advance of their visit to your store.

17. Run Social Media Contests

Run a contest by encouraging your customers to post their favorite ugly sweater pictures or decorating fails or holiday baking mishaps and run a contest for the photo with the most votes. You can also do a cute kid contest or the best wreath, whatever option that might fit best with your brand. Just make sure you’re clear with the terms and conditions.

18. Real-Time Updates

It’s also a good idea to use your social media channels, your store’s answering service and your website as real-time communication channels. This is especially important if you sell out of a popular product or need to close unexpectedly (or open early). Give your customers ways to stay up-to-date on your business happenings throughout the season.

Online Sales Promotion Ideas

While some of the below options could also fit in the Marketing category, many of these ideas uniquely focus on online events or specific characteristics of online sales.

19. Provide Themed Gift Guides & Shopping Guides

Bloggers tend to write up gift guides around the holidays.

If there’s anyone that focuses on the types of products you sell, reach out and see if you might be included. Also, see if there’s anyone who might write up a local shopping guide. Especially if you’re located in a downtown area or an area that has holiday events, make sure you’re store is listed on the guide. Both of these are great ways to capture some new eyeballs for your location and products.

If there isn’t anyone in your area who writes up gift guides, consider adding one to your own website. It will help to generate great search value and provide you with some targeted holiday traffic.

20. Offer Cyber Monday Discounts

Regardless of business size, Cyber Monday (the Monday following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday) is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. Leverage your online store and get in on the action. Make sure to promote any deals or specials you’ll have for Cyber Monday via email and social media to make sure customers don’t forget about you in their clicking frenzy.

21. Free Shipping for Online Orders

This is actually a great holiday sales promotion to run for the entirety of the holiday shopping season. Also investigate the cost to offer expedited shipping (for any of those last minute shoppers) or maybe a discount for expedited shipping (e.g., for $5 you’ll be sure to ship the item priority as an added bonus to your online shoppers).

Be aware of limiting free shipping based on order total. Unless the customer can absolutely not get your product from anywhere else, only offering free shipping on orders of $49 or more could hurt your bottom line. Many larger companies will offer free shipping regardless of order total, especially for Cyber Monday.

Picking Your Small Business Holiday Promotions

Choose the best holiday promotions for your business. It’s not necessary to offer significant discounts that will end up hurting your bottom line. At the end of the day, your goal is to increase your holiday sales and offer added value to your customers. An even better outcome from your small business holiday promotions is to gain new customers that will help propel your sales into the new year.

Read this article at the QuickBooks.com

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Internally Prepare for Holiday Shoppers
By Deborah Sweeney

Savvy small businesses are already looking ahead to the holiday shopping season, including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Here are four things you can do to prepare your business for the holidays.

It is nearly Halloween, which means savvy small businesses are already looking ahead to the holiday shopping season. Many business owners have long been strategizing and planning to ensure they are bringing their A-game for each major shopping day – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. They’ve reviewed data from last year to determine what promotions worked versus those that did not. Business owners have also defined and set sales goals, optimized their websites for desktop and mobile devices, and created marketing campaigns targeted to their ideal shopper audience.

Much of what I have mentioned above is external holiday prep, which is a bit different from internal preparations. Businesses preparing for the holiday season internally must make sure they are covering these four key areas before their doors open and shoppers, and sales, begin flooding in.

1. Staff seasonal employees.

Chances are you may hire seasonal employees to help out, and you won’t be the only business to do this. The National Retail Federation has forecast that 2018 holiday retail sales in November and December could hit as much as $720.89 billion. This is an increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017.

Naturally, this many sales call for a seasonal hiring boom. However, working during the holidays is no easy feat. Customers can easily get upset if something from their wish list is out of stock, payment systems can go down, and there are long lines to stand in, which can cause tempers to flare up.

As small business owners look into hiring for 2018, they’ll need to make sure the candidates they bring on are qualified for the job. Keep an eye out for resumes that have been tailored for the position. These resumes should showcase how the applicant has demonstrated initiative during the holiday season and helped solve problems in past, relevant positions.

Applicants interested in seasonal employment should also include skills that illustrate how they have quickly trained for their roles. They should be able to demonstrate how they kept their cool during stressful situations and went above and beyond to meet the needs of customers. Keep your eyes peeled for buzzwords about their personalities, too. You’ll want to hire individuals who have a good attitude that is patient, understanding and full of good cheer.

2. Prepare holiday schedules for employees.

All hands are on deck during the holiday season, especially major shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Aside from making sure that your staff has been trained for their workload, prepare their schedules.

Planning to keep your storefront open later or earlier than usual business hours? Make sure you have members of your staff available to come in earlier or stay later as needed. Encourage employees, seasonal and full-time alike, to schedule in their time off early, should they decide to go home or on holiday vacations. If someone is unable to come in for a shift, make sure you have backup employees on deck who are ready to step in and assist as needed.

3. Add a little decoration pizzazz to your storefront.

Is your small business a brick-and-mortar storefront? If so, you’ll want to make it as inviting and enticing to shoppers as possible. That means it’s time to decorate and add festive touches to the space!

A few areas to consider in your decor scheme may include window and product displays, lighting, and music. You may even add scents like peppermint and gingerbread throughout your storefront. Get your entire team involved in the process, too. Make it a fun team-building activity to deck the halls with one and all!

4. Remember to go the extra mile with customer service.

No matter how busy you may be, make sure you and your team know that this is your company’s time to shine and to provide excellent customer service.

Pay attention to the overall customer experience. Remember names of frequent shoppers, offer complimentary gift wrapping and shipping, and provide free sample products with purchases. Be ready and prepared to help out and embrace the holiday spirit to the fullest with a friendly, can-do attitude.

Read this article at the Business.com

The views and opinions presented in this newsletter do not necessarily represent those of SpiritBank.
Property of SpiritBank. 2018.