You probably already know what Small Business Saturday is but in case you’re a new small business owner or haven’t heard of this event for some reason, it’s one worth paying attention to. Why? Because last year US consumers spent about $15.4 billion on Small Business Saturday (SBS) at small and independent retailers and restaurants! That’s a lot of stocking stuffers.
Small Business Saturday started as a (very smart) public relations move by American Express back in 2009. Since then, it’s grown and developed a life of its own, with multiple local initiatives and a growing number of participating businesses.
You’re thinking that this is just another made up event meant to make AE more money but the best thing about SBS is the opportunity it gives small businesses on the advertising front. Struggling to compete with major brands and advertisers, especially during the holiday season, any small business can benefit from having free advertising bankrolled by a major corporation.
Any good boy scout knows It’s important to be prepared. Not only is SBS becoming more competitive every year but, but it’s also a time you want to excel.
New clients attracted to your business by AMEX advertising efforts and special SBS deals you advertise can be turned into loyal customers. But only if you make a flawless first impression by providing them with the best service around. The last thing you want them to remember about this first and festive visit to your business is unprepared staff, inventory shortages or long queues for service.
Ready on all (store) fronts
Right now you might be planning creative special discounts, promotion, extra stocks and supercharging your marketing efforts ahead of Small Business Saturday. However, none of these will matter if your employees are not prepared. Do you have a training plan ready? Are your employees even aware of what you expect to happen on this special day?
Sure, you can schedule a training meeting with all your employees to get them up to speed on planned activities for SBS and equip them with printed catalogs and buffed-up shift schedules. Aside from the difficulty in scheduling such a training for all employees, this is a waste of time (and wages paid for said time). Also, it’s not nearly enough. If you want to ace this, you need to do much more.
App it up
If your head is spinning from the sheer number of tasks on your plate in preparation for Small Business Saturday, worry not – there are plenty of available apps.
Thought you couldn’t streamline training, tasks, attendance management, and more from one mobile app?! Think again. Connecteam is your all-in-one branded employee hub of operations, team communications, and document hub. Connecteam is available at a fixed monthly price for up to 200 users, starting at $29-$72.
A free CRM solution that promises to stay free for ever and offers automation features that help track customer interactions. You can also create and follow sales-related tasks and get a good overview of your sales funnel at any given time.
The product journey from manufacturing work floor to sitting in the hands of your customers can be complex. xTuple is a free open-source ERP solution with an integrated CRM system, intended mostly for companies producing or selling products rather than services.
To prepare for Small Business Friday You Need To:
1. Make sure your employees know what Small Business Saturday is
Everyone’s heard of Black Friday, but Small Business Saturday is still a relatively new event. So it’s quite possible your employees don’t even know what it is. One way to tell them is by hanging a sign in the breakroom (assuming you have one) and hoping the workers actually read it. Not very effective.
Another is using an employee app to share the information with them, and get notified on who actually bothered to read it. That way you know for a fact that every one of your workers is up to date.
2. Provide them with a sales catalogues and product details available anytime and anywhere
“I don’t know, but I can ask the manager” is not something you want coming out of your employees’ mouths. Not too often, anyway. Especially since you’re the manager and have better things to do than answer employee questions about products, policies, and services. You have a business to run.
When a customer asks “Does this come in pink?” or “Does this dish contain gluten?” some employees might know the answer off the bat. Others need a reliable always-on source of catalogues, dish ingredient list, and pricing for additional services provided. You can make the catalogue available using the Connecteam app and update inventory using XTurple and Hubspot CRM.
3. Create an easy, quick, and effective way to communicate
Sometimes employees really have no choice but to ask a manager or supervisor a question. But supervisors and managers don’t sit around just a step away waiting for these questions, especially when the shop is bursting with customers. Like I previously mentioned: you have a business to manage. An employee app can make asking teammates, supervisors or manager a question is quick and easy. Like facebook, just professional.
4. Furnish a sales pitch and distribute it to employees
You might have some promotions planned, so it’s worth arming your team with perfect sales pitches for promoted products. In addition, this is a great time to refresh your employees’ memory about what your brand stands for and what makes it unique. With that in mind, they can be more than workers, but true ambassadors of your business.
5. Stay on top of things with specific checklists and workflows
What makes up a business is not its products, inventory or even the people who work in it. What separates a business from an endeavour is the presence of workflows and defined processes. It’s the difference between throwing ingredients into a pot and hoping for the best and using a recipe that can be adjusted and optimized over time.
The three apps from above, in separate or all together, can guide your employees through processes and help ensure nothing is missed or forgotten. After all, things can get hectic if your advertising efforts pay off. Organizing things and keeping them in your pocket at all times really helps keep the chaos levels down.
6. Manage overtime so you don’t go too far into the red
Most small businesses are digitizing their attendance management tasks, and if you haven’t done so – here’s your opportunity. An integrated time-clock on a mobile app doesn’t only put the time-clock in your employees’ pockets, but also gives you better control, manage overtime, and avoid employees trying to take advantage of the commercial commotion to write up a few extra hours they didn’t actually work.
What happens Saturday
Software can and should be utilized for everyday operations, and prove to be an invaluable tool in preparing for major sales events, product launches, and traditional seasonal shopping sprees.
Since Small Business Saturday is still a relatively small shopping holiday. So this is your chance to integrate a mobile solution (and get a chance to optimize your use of it) before Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other such opportunities for businesses to shine (and make a profit).