Hoping for a lucrative holiday season this year? There are a few things you can do starting today to help ensure you gain new customers and more profit this year.

Follow these tips to help make December your most profitable month yet:

1. Extend your hours. If you want to take advantage of all the shopping madness December brings, make sure your business hours accommodate your consumers’ busy schedules. Open earlier and stay open later to maximize your profit. Be sure to let everyone know you have extended holiday hours by posting them on your website, blog, social media accounts, and storefront windows (if applicable).

2. Arm yourself with holiday staff. Customers don’t want to deal with excessively long lines or employees who are impossible to find. To ensure you’re giving great customer service this holiday season, hire additional holiday staff to help you handle the busy crowds. Be sure to train your holiday staff thoroughly so they’re not asking questions during your busiest moments.

3. Use social media to your advantage. Whether you’re on Twitter, Facebook Foursquare, Google+, or all four, start posting about your holiday specials, new merchandise, gift ideas, extended holiday hours, and more. Social media is a great way to drum up new business and make consumers excited about your holiday offerings.

4. Differentiate yourself. Ask yourself this question: How can you make your store (or e-commerce website) stand out this holiday season? Whether it’s private shopping events for your best customers (with discounts and holiday cookies or other treats), free shipping for the entire month of December, complimentary gift wrapping for orders of ‘X’ amount, or anything else, let your customers know why they should choose you for their holiday shopping. Once you’ve decided how you’re going to make yourself stand out from all the holiday retailers this year, be sure to promote it using social media, your website, and your blog if applicable.

5. Make it festive. If you have a retail location, decorate your store windows and store interior with holiday lights, garland, or other decorations. Light a gingerbread or peppermint candle so your store feels (and smells) festive. If you have an e-commerce website, update it with seasonal content and images to entice holiday shoppers.

6. Keep it jolly. Since customers will probably already be frazzled from dealing with impossible-to-find parking spots, huge crowds, and endless lines, make sure you and your staff greet them warmly the moment they walk through your doors, no matter how hectic your own day has been. A friendly smile and a helpful attitude go a long way in getting the sale, both during the holiday season and all year long.

How are you preparing for the holiday shopping season?