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Learn what you can do now to optimize business practices, empower employees, and support customer engagement for the holiday shopping season and beyond.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday, is the “big show” for small business shopping. It’s reported that in 2017, 108 million shoppers participated in the event and spent $12.9 billion.[1] As awareness of the existence of Small Business Saturday grows through social media promotions (check out #SmallBizSat on Twitter), the day promises to grow in popularity this year, which translates to even bigger sales.

Is your small business ready for the increased traffic? Is this your first year participating in Small Business Saturday? Do you need to make some overdue updates? Don’t stress. Here are 5 ways you can be prepared for the biggest Saturday in small business and every Saturday thereafter.

1. Hire & train seasonal workers

You want your workers to be trained up and ready to greet customers with friendly smiles and feel empowered to answer any questions buyers may have. The best way to do that is to hire seasonal staff as early as possible. Make sure workers are familiar with merchandise, where restocking items are located, and who to go to if there are questions they cannot answer. Customer service is also imperative, both in store and online. Have employees dedicated to ecommerce support. Ensure your employees are also comfortable with any hardware and software your shop uses—anticipate any troubleshooting issues. If there are updates to systems you’ve been putting off, do them now so workers are up-to-speed.

2. Prepare your marketing and promotion strategy

Offering promotions and deals is a great way to drive foot and online traffic, but it’s essential to start letting your audience know about them as soon as possible. What could be more disappointing than a new customer entering your business and saying, “I wish I’d known you were offering that! I just purchased a similar item somewhere else.” If you’re not utilizing social media channels to get the word out, now’s the time to learn about leveraging these platforms.

There’s no better marketing than testimonials from people who like your products and services. Solicit reviews on social media, provide comment cards, or set up a digital station in your business where people can write reviews while still in your business. Customers sometimes forget by the time they return home!

3. Track and prepare inventory

Remember that if you’re offering a promotion, you’ll need to make sure you have enough items in stock. Put together spreadsheets to help keep things organized. If you’re working with artificial intelligence software, run some programs that can track your sales trends, giving you a better picture of what to have on hand that day. On that Saturday, make sure any sale inventory is easily accessible to workers, so they can restock efficiently. If you offer an ecommerce website, make sure your staff understands how it works so they can point people toward it in case you run out of something. Better yet, have the staff order it for the customer and offer free shipping.

4. Stay on top of daily business tasks

Been putting off your housekeeping tasks? Now’s the time to update that website, double check your branding, or add to the services you offer. Not only will you have adequate time to train employees, but you’ll also have time to promote the services well in advance of Small Business Saturday.

Maybe you’ve just been a bit too lax in tracking financial and business trends, or maybe you’re not sure of the most efficient ways to handle that. Start looking into smarter software to track purchasing trends, create customer profiles, and plan promotional events. Having all your ducks in a row in anticipation of increased sales means you can deliver personalized customer service without being hindered by your day-to-day operations.

5. Maintain morale and momentum

This is a stressful time for business owners and employees. Make sure you’re having fun, too. Plan morale-boosting activities for workers to get them in the holiday spirit. Offer incentives like competitions for top salesperson, best-reviewed employee, or most enthusiastic. Poll workers for ideas about things they think will be fun and have them vote. The sky is truly the limit of the exciting things businesses can do to create a positive work environment during a busy time.

There’s no doubt that Small Business Saturday is going to be a huge day for sales. But, there’s so much that can be done in advance to ensure that day goes as smoothly as possible. Work smarter with technology shortcuts, train seasonal workers and keep them engaged, get inventory together, tell potential customers about special deals via social media, and make sure you’re not falling behind on the daily record keeping. Having done your behind-the-scenes work ahead of time, on Small Business Saturday you can keep your mind on the most important parts of the day: welcoming the massive amounts of happy customers and providing to them the best customer service available.

[1] https://www.nfib.com/content/analysis/economy/small-business-saturday-drives-nearly-13-billion-in-2017-spending/