Holidays come quickly and customers often feel like the day is sneaking up on them. Small business owners will tell you the same – 25 percent of entrepreneurs log over 60 hours each week all year long, and the holidays are even more hectic. Whether it’s Christmas, Halloween, or Valentine’s Day, small business owners are always racing to prepare for the next holiday rush and trying to implement new business ideas. Luckily, there are a few simple tactics to use to prepare – and hopefully avoid – the chaos.

Here are some ways small retailers can plan ahead to survive the holiday rush and avoid mistakes.

Encourage Early Shopping and Ship Right Away

Encourage shoppers to buy early through offering deals – then get their packages sent out as soon as possible. Stay on top of shipping items out so you can best maximize your precious time as it gets closer to the holiday. As you prepare shipments, always use approved packing materials and include a label on the inside of the package in case the outside label receives damage. Prompt shipment and well-packaged goods are one of many ways you can build a brand with passion.

Make a Merchandise Plan

At the top of your to-do list should be a merchandise plan. Make it a priority to carve out time to prepare for the holiday rush. It may be a challenge to find the time, but it is worth the effort. Items that are in high demand will drive your business so make a point to have those items in stock. Many customers will turn to the Internet to aid in shopping, so help your customers by narrowing down their online assortment. Place the best-selling items on the home page so visitors can find them with ease and won’t give up their search. Also make sure to have an adequate supply of high-demand items in order to maximize your sales and profits.

Utilize Your Staff

Retailers know the importance of adequate staff during the holidays. So as you order more inventory, also bring in more team members. Spending the extra money on those people will ensure that you can fulfill more orders and make fewer mistakes, and in turn will keep your customers happy. It’s worth it to stock up on your staff to help keep both your sanity and business intact. Extra help is essential when it comes to shuffling phone calls, web orders and packaging items – and will help your business avoid employees spreading themselves too thin.

Boost Morale

Holiday stress can really drain employee morale. Your team members may feel tired, burnt out and overwhelmed during the hustle and bustle around the holidays. Make sure to keep the workplace a healthy one. Keep the office clean and thank your team members often for their hard work. Small gestures of appreciation mean a lot and an employee who feels valued will work that much harder – so make a continuous effort to find ways to boost employee morale, not just during the busy times.

While it often seems that each holiday runs into the next, try not to become overwhelmed. Offer incentives for early sales, stay on top of orders and have a merchandise plan in place. Excellent organization and communication skills can help make the holiday rush a more pleasant and less stressful time and can lead to greater profit.

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