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It happens every single year, yet we always seem surprised when the schools break up and summer arrives, as it often feels as though it has come from nowhere. It’s therefore easy for small businesses to feel overwhelmed during the seasonal rush, especially those who rely on the summer peak to support the quieter months of the year.

Opus Energy, the leading independent renewable energy provider to businesses, has shared 5 tips to cope with this year’s summer rush.

1. Make sure your staff are ready

As a small business owner, you might be willing to work around the clock to ensure the shop floor is stocked, your online orders are fulfilled, and any other outstanding jobs get completed come rain or shine.

However, your staff may not feel the same. In fact, even if they are completely willing to pitch in and get their hands dirty, you need to think about who you’ll need around you to help get the job done. Will you need to increase working hours or offer overtime? Will your rotas need amending to allow for enough coverage during the busy periods? Perhaps you’ll need to hire a temporary worker, or several, to see you through a busy spell – in which case you’ll want to contact employee agencies as soon as possible to ensure you recruit a suitable hire.

During these periods, try to support your employees as much as possible too. Be flexible where you can and try to maintain morale. Paying for a lunch every now and then, or even just a round of ice creams on a particularly hot day will go a long way in making your employees feel rewarded and part of a team.

2. Ensure your stock levels are right

You never want to over-order and be stuck with a backroom full of products or produce you can’t shift. On the other hand, being short of something your customers are clamoring for is enough to make you grit your teeth.

Try to be analytical about what you’ll need. If you’ve been selling for a few years, look at previous years’ records and measure the kind of uplift in sales and footfall you saw around seasonal periods.

You might notice a pattern – do you get a steady 10% increase in custom over the weeks leading up to a big seasonal holiday, or do you see a large spike just days before the big calendar event? By finding your pattern you can better predict your potential stock levels.

3. Look at increasing your conversions

In seasonal periods when consumers are in spending mode, now is the time when you might convince them to add something extra to their basket. One tactic is to place small add-on items close to the tills, in high traffic areas or before the online purchasing process. Ensure the items aren’t off-putting and will appeal to a larger majority of shoppers.

Try to showcase local products as much as possible. Edible goods, handmade gifts, and local specialties make great gifts and mementos for holidaymakers and visitors. Use these to draw customers in and celebrate local talent.

It’s not just about pushing the big-ticket items – small purchases and multibuys can be an easy way to push up the spend-per-customer and boost your overall revenue.

Don’t forget that the Great British summer is prone to dramatic changes in weather. So, if you run a physical store, be prepared to adapt the front of your store quickly and ensure that umbrellas and waterproofs are accessible and to close to hand when needed.

4. Stand out from the crowd

The chances are, if you operate a small business on the seafront or in a busy town, there are a handful of similar companies operating a set-up not too unlike yours with similar stock. Standing out is crucial for attracting customers in.

Visual merchandising is key, so make your storefront look as attractive as possible. By keeping an eye on what the competition is displaying, you can offer alternatives and attract your share of the passing trade.

Restaurants, cafes, and bistros could rotate their special menus regularly to keep generating interest and shout about using local produce

5. Work out what your weak link is

If there are any cracks in the veneer, you’ll notice them grow bigger when put under the strain of a bustling seasonal patch.

What’s holding you or your customers back? Perhaps your point of sale technology needs an update and takes a while to process sales. Maybe your staff aren’t trained to attend to customers quickly enough, so they end up waiting. Maybe your online shop is hot on its stock, but delivery times are disappointing – all pain points that can reduce profits and increase customer and employee dissatisfaction.

Find and fix the weak link to reduce the chances of snapping when put under pressure.

6. Prepare yourself

Whilst it’s crucial to ensure that your premises and stock are prepared, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally.

Making a couple of small tweaks to your routine could make a huge difference to your mindset. For example, if you’re on your feet all day, get comfy hard-wearing shoes that won’t give out before you do. Mark out a day off in advance (and let your staff know) so you have time to enjoy the holiday season yourself, particularly if you want to spend time with family and friends. Perhaps you need to set holiday-specific working hours if you think you’ll be working overtime, or plan to reduce your hours in the post-seasonal lull to compensate.

Remember, if you’re tired, you’re more likely to make mistakes and increase your stress levels, which can ultimately lead to poor health later down the line.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your business is not only prepared for the holiday rush this summer but that it can thrive and be as successful as possible.

About the author: Retail Performance Director, Richard Shakespeare, joined Opus Energy in 2018 to lead the Retail Propositions and Performance team. Richard is responsible for driving commercial performance through a customer-focused approach, including go-to-market execution, proposition development, and business intelligence.

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