The holiday selling season is juuust starting to sneak up on us… and while customers are starting to shop earlier, the majority of hustle and shopping bustle still happens in those precious 31 days between Thanksgiving / Black Friday and Christmas.
It’s in those days that you’ll need to be laser-focused on getting customer orders out efficiently, replying to inquires quickly, and communicating with your customers – both about potential issues and promotions!
So the last thing we need is to get hung up or distracted by an issue that takes your time away from those revenue generating activities. And the best thing we can do is prepare, because an issue or two is bound to pop up and during the hectic time we want to ensure we’re still making good decisions, and not letting stress and emotions take over.
For example, have you considered what you’ll do if a customer places an order (for a gift no less!) and it doesn’t show up… and it’s now December 22nd. She placed the order on your last day to ship, so by the 22nd you’re fairly checked out and on the way to grandma’s house… SH*T.
Since we all know the holidays are a stressful time for everyone – so many gifts to buy, places to travel, food to prepare, beds to make – how can you still ensure this customer has a positive experience with your brand and doesn’t run to the review hills to lob complaints your way. I don’t say that to scare you, but stress makes people crazy – and mean. We’ve all seen those angry shoppers driving around malls cutting grandmas with walkers off just to score a slightly closer parking spot. crraaay.
So below let’s get a few issues outta the way, so on the off-chance they happen, you’ll still be cool as a snowman.
1 | What are your solutions for potential product issues?
1A | If a product isn’t selling, what’s the absolute lowest price you’ll discount to?
As a buyer, I made these decisions often. We’d have our regular retail price, a few “normal” sale prices for our regular recurring ads, then a big daddy discount price (I promise we didn’t call it that… but maybe we should have?), and then we always kinda knew our absolute floor.
Like if this stinks or we’re WAY overbought to our plan or for the time of year (ie. that holiday themed pillow that will definitely not sell after Christmas for anything less than 75% off), what price would we be able to move to so that we a) still made money and b) would get the sales moving before having to dump into clearance.
- Holiday-themed products
- Seasonal products where interest will drop off significantly
- Products you heavily invested stock in for the holiday season
1B | If a customer’s order doesn’t arrive, what are your options?
If it’s earlier in the month, you’ll obviously have more time and options to figure it out and re-issue the order if needed. But if it was part of your ‘last orders before Christmas’, it’ll be a little more difficult since you’ll be traveling or busy with your family. While this decision will be personal (and hopefully not even needed!), I recommend coming up with a short script to guide you through potential issues. Having a plan takes away a lot of stress and ensures you respond in a professional way, instead of letting our lesser emotions take over (we’ve all been there where we *almost* hit send on a nasty email).
1C | If a customer’s order isn’t as they expected, how do you handle?
While I hope you already have a policy in place, again, it’s worth noting that tensions are a little high during the holidays. People spend a lot of time looking for that perfect gift for their loved ones and everyone’s short on time. Coming up with a quick ‘Option 1, Option 2, Option 3’ plan will be helpful in allowing you to respond quickly and without a personal kick to the heart each time.
2 | During holiday prep time (September – mid November), how will you spend your work time?
In the early months of September, October, and even part of November, you’ll probably be faced with some time constraints and need to figure out where to spend your energy.
You might feel pressured to already start making more sales. After all, you’re excited for your new products this year and you’re ready for people to bite!
But before you go out there and spend the next hour in Facebook promo groups (which I don’t recommend for a couple reasons…), consider if you could be planning or creating something else now that will pay off bigger in the future.
For example, you could go spend that hour posting products to promo groups or asking other sellers how they handle slower sale periods. OR you could spend that hour gathering ideas and finding other brands to include in a really fun 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. Sure, you won’t see any immediate payback from your work, but you’re creating something that will have a BIG impact at the time your customers are looking to shop.
And that’s just good business – meeting your customers with what they want, when they want it.
Rather than trying to drive one more sale in September, work on planning out your holiday marketing so you can earn two/three/five times more sales in November and December.
A little work now can mean a big payoff later when customers are in the mood to shop, willingly have a budget to spend, and have a sense of urgency driving them to make a purchase.
3 | When will I get to my personal things… I have gifts to buy too!
As I mentioned above, there are 31 shopping days before Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. And since most of you are online sellers, that number shrinks as you’ll have an earlier cut-off date for shipping to guarantee delivery before Christmas. So we’re talking what… 25 days to earn kickass holiday sales?
To really have your best season and not be stressed up to your eyeballs, I recommend getting serious about planning out your personal life for November + December. This involves both setting expectations for the other people in your life (significant others, friends, kids, etc) and setting reasonable personal goals for yourself.
SETTING EXPECTATIONS FOR OTHERS
At my current job, we have two really busy peaks a year for our planning seasons. They’re mid-February through May and again in August through October. During those months, it’s not unusual for me to stay at the office until 8pm (occasionally 9pm?!) a couple times a week. That was pretty disruptive to our home life as it usually meant I’d tell my husband I’ll be home around 6:30-7pm, then cut to me calling him at 7:12 saying I’m actually still in the office, probably will leave in 15mins? then losing track of time again and actually walking out the door at 8:02pm. DAH.
While he’s super supportive and understands we’re busy, it’s also kinda rude and unfair of me to leave him in limbo every night. He would plan to wait for me to have dinner together, but after a few nights in a row of oops I haven’t left yet… I’ll be home in an hour. (that commute life stinks), I decided something needed to change.
So for the past few busy seasons, I’ve chosen two days a week as my “late nights”. They’re my full-on ‘do not count on me for dinner / dog duties / or anything, I will be at work’ nights.
(hint: I personally choose Tuesday and Thursday. Monday is just well, Monday. And the plan is if I use Tuesday well to either catch up or get ahead, then I won’t even need to stay late on Thursday; but it’s already “part of the schedule” if the week does get away from me.)
And it’s worked out really well! Not only because he doesn’t feel like will I / won’t I come home for dinner together, but also because I don’t feel guilty about just staying and getting my things done. Plus, it’s actually made me more productive and work a little harder on the other days so that I get home at my regular time because I made the commitment and because it gives me peace of mind to know my schedule is clear for the other nights to work as late as I need.
Who do you need to consider during your busy times? How can you adjust your schedule to make it work for you or at least provide a better balance?
SETTING REASONABLE PERSONAL GOALS FOR YOURSELF
You are going to be BUSY. Part of being a good busy bee worker is just acknowledging those seasonal ebbs + flows. Like I mentioned above, we have really clear cut months where we KNOW we’re busy. If you have a lot of personal stuff going on, we all try to get it in before or after those months when possible. Seriously, the weeks leading up are just full of people going to the dentist and getting their hair done lol. Not to say we have literally no room for that type of stuff, but if it can be avoided… why wouldn’t we do that?
So while we’re still sitting pretty here in September, take stock of a few personal items and get them crossed off your list now or scheduled out so we can plan around them.
- Dentist/Doctor appointments for you (and the kids!)
- Schedule your hair appointments for the remainder of the year (we all wanna look fresh for the holidays!)
- House projects you need to tackle
- Holiday travel you need to plan/book
- Gather recipes you’ll need to prepare
- If visitors stay with you during the holidays, create a quick ‘prep list’ of what you’ll need to do so you can enlist your spouse or kids to help out if able (wash sheets, freshen room, stock up on extra toiletries)
- Establish a good exercise routine and experiment with a few shorter ideas, like HIIT workouts (I like the BodyBoss workouts – just 24 minutes)
- Plan out who you need to buy gifts for….. and buy them in advance!!
Take a few minutes now and jot out those upcoming responsibilities you know will come up. How can you tick those off your list before November?
I always feel better with a plan, but I wasn’t always this willing to admit it and do the work ahead of time. Whether it’s your first holiday season or you’re a regular old pro, taking the time to anticipate your schedule and potential issues will absolutely help you enter your busy period with less stress and more grace.
What helps you get through the busy season? Share your tips below!