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When summer ends, and the weather starts to cool, many sights, sounds, and scents tell us that Fall and Winter are approaching. Colorful leaves blanket the ground below, acorns and pine cones fall from trees, birds chirp and sing, wood crackles in the fireplace, the smell of delicious holiday meals fills homes, and the scent of evergreen trees adorns the cold air outside. The final three months of the year also bring people together. Americans will celebrate the holidays with family members and friends.
For small business owners, the year’s last months present an excellent opportunity to increase revenues, as shoppers will come out in droves, in-store and online. The fourth quarter is also a good time for business owners to get their financials in order and start thinking about the upcoming year. This Balboa Capital blog article features some 4th quarter tips for small businesses, and we believe you will find them helpful as you prepare for the busy final months of the year.
Plan your 4th quarter marketing efforts.
The year’s final months are when the retail industry is at its busiest. Shoppers flock to stores on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and throughout December to buy gifts. But retail stores are not the only ones that thrive during the fourth quarter. Restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, auto repair businesses, snow removal businesses, and accountants are also kept busy during this time of year. So, planning your marketing efforts ahead of time might help you make the most of your fourth-quarter sales.
Getting your company’s name out early helps create awareness and generate interest. This is the time of year when holiday sales and promotions are being advertised by mom-and-pop stores and large national brands alike. And you do not need a marketing campaign with a huge budget. Budget-friendly marketing strategies include email marketing, social media posts, and contests/giveaways. Updating your website with a festive theme (seasonal imagery), gift guides, and special offers or sales can also help drive sales.
Stock up on inventory for the 4th quarter.
When your customers visit your shop and cannot find the items they want, they will go elsewhere to find them. If you do not have enough stock on hand, you are missing out on sales opportunities and giving a boost to the competition. So, check your inventory to see what you need for the fourth quarter. In today’s fast-paced and on-demand world, consumers expect everything to be readily available, especially items advertised for the holidays. Additionally, stock up on bags, cash register tape, and gift certificates (if applicable) to provide your customers with a seamless, hassle-free experience.
Q4 inventory management is also essential if you own a business in the food and beverage industry, such as a restaurant or a coffee shop. This needs careful planning because fresh food and beverage items are perishable and must be turned over in a specific time frame. Inventory management software can help you track the food and beverage items in stock and what is scheduled to come in from your vendors and suppliers. If possible, look at your Q4 sales from last year to see what was popular with your customers. If your high-selling items are on the menu this year, make plans to keep enough inventory to meet customer demand.
Staff up for the final months of the year.
The 4th quarter can present challenges to your business regarding staffing. Many workers like to take vacations in Fall and Winter, attend holiday parties with family and friends, and entertain out-of-town family guests. Of course, they are also busy buying gifts and juggling their hectic end-of-year schedules. So, the last thing you want is to be short-staffed during the year’s final months. It will be stressful for you and your employees if you do not have enough workers.
To prevent this from happening, schedule the right number of employees, and make sure you have adequate coverage during peak periods. Nothing is more frustrating to customers than waiting in long lines or not having someone readily available to assist them. The right amount of employee coverage will keep your customers happy and your cash registers ringing. You might also consider meeting with your staff to explain your goals for the 4th quarter, such as anticipated staffing and extended business hours. Making it clear that you understand your employees’ Q4 commitments outside the workplace can help boost morale and productivity and make a positive impression.
Get your financial documents in order.
Tax planning is a year-round task, so it is recommended that you keep your company’s financials up to date. Doing so can simplify the tax return process and help ensure everything is accurate. You will be busy running your business during the fourth quarter and probably taking some days off for the holidays. That said, it is a good idea to get your financial documents in order before the 4th quarter, particularly those that the IRS requires you to submit.
Finally, if you plan to invest in new or upgraded capital assets for your business in Q4, ask your accountant about the Section 179 tax deduction. This portion of the U.S. tax code lets companies deduct the full or partial cost of eligible assets, such as furniture, fixtures, equipment, and vehicles used for business purposes, in the year they are purchased or financed.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.