How Prepared is Your Business for the Fourth Quarter? | Columnists

This year has gusted through like a whirlwind, and the holidays will be here before you know it. Has your business adapted to the Covid-19 crisis and proactively prepared for the last quarter of 2020? Whether the fourth quarter is typically your busiest or your slowest,this year is a completely different ball game, so it’s vital that you evaluate how to prepare for the upcoming season and take steps so that you can finish strong.

Planning ahead is one thing you can do to help make sure your business thrives this fourth quarter. Even if your business has been operating in “panic mode”,it’s important to take the time to step back, evaluate, and plan ahead.

Want to have a lucrative fourth quarter? Consider the following:

Reset Goals. It’s very important to make sure your income and revenue goals are clear. Take the current crisis into consideration and check to see if you’re still on track to meet or exceed the goals you established at the beginning of the year. If you have, you may want to adjust your company’s goals for the fourth quarter. If not, figure out how much revenue you want to generate by December 31st. Now that you know how much revenue you need to generate, it’s time to map out the steps you need to take to get there.

Re-evaluate Operations. How much product/services need to be sold? Compare past years’ sales analytics, determine which products you need to have in inventory, the number of seasonal staff members you will need, and if offering different purchasing methods (online, delivery, etc.) would be beneficial to your business.

Reassess Marketing/Communications. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to put together your marketing and promotion schedules. Know what your closing rate is to determine how much marketing you will need to do. This may also be a good time to rethink your marketing mix. How many direct mail pieces need to be sent, phone calls made (remember to abide by the Do-Not-Call List), tv/radio commercials and digital advertisements need to be executed?

Retrain Your Staff. The holidays are stressful for everyone, however, you can lighten your employees’ load by getting them prepared for what lies ahead. Coach them about heavy sales volume, shipping, fulfillment, difficult customers, crisis communications — all of us are under an incredible amount of stress this year — and overall expectations.

Review Expenses. Another way to help increase profitability is to reduce expenses reasonably. Examine your profit and loss statements, credit card and utility statements, etc. If you’re wasting money, or if you have unproductive staff members, now’s the time to become more efficient and make cuts if necessary. If you wait until holiday season to let someone go, you could be considered a Scrooge. This will also help you better plan your 2021 budget.

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