Holiday pain points for SMEs: Avoiding a winter of discontent

Although many around the country are ready to welcome the holiday seasons with open arms (who does not spend most of the year waiting to roast chestnuts on an open fire?), the lead up to Christmas can leave a different taste in the mouths of small business owners, closer to what we imagine expired eggnog to taste like. Today we look at 3 pain points that mean winter may not always be the season to be jolly when running an SME, and attempt to offer a solution to each.

1-The Ghost of Christmas Past:  Supplier deliveries

Most of us are guilty of the same thing during the holidays: overbuying everything. Whilst it is undoubtedly great for the economy, stock disappearing too rapidly off the shelves will be sure to cause some panic for disappointed customers and unprepared owners alike.

The simple solution would seem to be to order more stock than usual well ahead of the seasonal rush, but if things were that simple then there would have been no reason to write this piece. There are many reasons why ordering a lot of stock in advance isn’t the answer: short shelf life items would go to waste, small businesses may not have sufficient storage room, budgets might not have taken into account such an increase in stock orders, etc.

In order to avoid cold sweats during the chillier months of the year, it is advised to contact your suppliers to enquire about their orders and deliveries pattern changes during the holiday season. Stock up on the most popular items based on your storage capacity and previous year’s sales, and take into account that scheduled deliveries may be affected by poor weather conditions.

2- The Ghost of Christmas Present: Staff

As anyone who’s seen a good Christmas movie knows, the holidays are a great reason to spend time with your family. Unfortunately, that means that most workers will prefer to spend time away from the workplace between Christmas and the New Year, and managing everyone’s availability whilst ensuring there is enough cover to assure as good a service as always will start the drama season (its official closing ceremony being the annual Christmas party).

Here again, preparing in advance is key: set an early deadline for leave requests, and use a Scheduling / HR program to allocate hours to staff and prevent brain freezes trying to solve that puzzle yourself. Once your schedule is ready, introduce it to your teams as early as possible to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them. Remember to anticipate potential lateness and sickness due to our Great British weather too: communicate clear guidelines to be sure to have sufficient time to arrange for cover.

Seasonal staff is also a possibility during the period, but ensure you employ committed and trained individuals to upkeep the reputation of your business whilst your usual employees are away.

3- The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: Cashflow

Securing cashflow is not the easiest of tasks for most of the year, but it is especially true at Christmas: stock ordering, decorations, bonuses and other seasonal expenses (such as higher energy bills) are sure to put some pressure on your balance sheet at the end of the calendar year.

This is where your Capital on Tap account can make all the difference, as you can access extra cashflow as and when required. You can either elect to draw down funds directly into your business bank account 24/7 via your online portal or use funds on the go with the Capital on Tap Business MasterCard at millions of retailers worldwide, online and over the phone. And with card purchases remaining at 0% interest for up to 37 days when you pay your balance off in full each month, Christmas expenses can be dealt with in the new year!

 

The holiday season can prove to be stress-inducing for many of us, but with a little bit of preparation and a dedicated source of business finance ready to help UK SMEs, this Christmas might well be a holly, jolly affair after all. If you would like to check your eligibility for a Capital on Tap account, simply fill in our 2-minute application form today: Check your eligibility

Last minute Christmas guide for SMEs

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…

And that’s not all that is nipping at your nose if you’re a small business heading into the Christmas season without a strategy in place. While planning ahead for the Christmas season is always the best option, time can get away from you and suddenly November has arrived and your Christmas strategy resembles last year’s Christmas lights – one tangled mess! Fear not, we’ve put together a last minute Christmas guide for SMEs to make sure that you can take advantage of the holiday season.

While you may not have the budget to put together a commercial advert quite like John Lewis #BusterTheBoxer, there is a lot of great marketing that you can do for next to nothing. Use your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts to really showcase your company and the great people that work there. Have you turned your business into one giant holly bush or planned the ultimate ugly Christmas sweater contest? Sharing these fun workplace festivities shows customers that your business is a warm and inviting place and can tempt them through the door.

Mailing campaigns, both direct and email, are another low cost avenue to take advantage of the Christmas season. Since time is of the essence, really make sure that you are reaching the right people. Are most of your customers the opposite of tech savvy? Send direct mail with promo codes, samples and product features. Specify any last minute sales, extended hours or store events that are coming up in the days leading up to Christmas. Everyone loves a bargain, and you can guarantee that you aren’t the only one who has left things until the last minute!

Aside from getting new business, Christmas is a good time to build a great customer experience and show existing customers how much you appreciate their business. Sending Christmas cards or emails to valued customers to show your appreciation can provide benefits beyond the holiday season. After all, loyalty pays back! And while you’re at it, why not include a company sticker or some other branded product to get your name out there.

The boom in business provided by the holiday season is not without stressors as more always seems to be required – more goods, more staff, more funds, MORE. Not planning ahead with your finances can leave you in a tight spot. This is where Capital on Tap’s lending facility can come in and save the day. Our 2 minute online application form means you can have those much needed funds in your account within 2 hours! Providing you with the much needed cash flow for the holiday season.

Looking for that added boost to your Christmas budget?

Apply Now