Fall is coming, and with the new season the crisp winds will blow in holiday sales opportunities and end-of-the-year tasks.
There are several things for small business owners to keep in mind as the leaves turn new colors. Some of the things that Inc. recommends small business owners keep an eye out for this fall are new technologies and changes to health care that come with the Affordable Care Act. There are many tips to remember as the summer winds down too. For some advice on how to improve your business this fall and prepare for the holiday season, keep on reading.
1. Keep the Affordable Care Act in mind
Changes are coming to health care fairly soon as the year comes down to its final months, Inc. explained. For example, small business owners who bought employee health insurance policies before the end of 2013 – a move that helped them avoid some of the laws' requirements for a year – will soon be facing an increase on their payments between 10 percent and 20 percent. The new policies that have come with health care reform should be carefully reviewed before making any choices. Make sure that as you plan your business strategies, health care policies are included in your business' financial plans. For example, it may be better for some business owners to have their employees purchase government subsidized health care. Companies with between 50 and 99 workers have until 2016 to make decisions on new health care policies. Those with less than 50 are exempt.
2. Start planning your seasonal promotions
A promotion can boost your revenue during the busy season even further. AllBusiness wrote that no matter what your industry, and which season it is, there's often some sort of holiday promotion you can run. Think of products you sell that can help consumers prepare for this autumn. Once you've identified a product that will be useful to customers in the coming months, create some kind of promotion or tie-in that will drive people to buy your commodities. Even a small giveaways tied to the fall season will be a fun promotion that visitors to your store will remember.
3. New technologies
Businesses that would like to take advantage of new technology such as Apple's Apple Pay will have to start thinking about investing in the equipment to support emerging systems such as Apple's payment program and others, according to Inc. New high tech applications such as contactless phone payment solutions may soon revolutionize small business transactions, and it is time for owners to start doing their research. In addition, one year from now in October 2015 credit cards and debit cards will lose the magnetic strip. From then on they will be embedded with electronic chips. These new cards will require new equipment to process payments. As the year continues and contactless payment systems leak into the mainstream, make sure that you're up to date on all the latest developments and that you are prepared to upgrade equipment to maintain transaction compatibility after the switch to chip-embedded cards. If you don't know how to afford such technologies, seek out financial investment advice and see how to best allocate your capital.
4. Prepare customer support for the busy season
The holidays are busy, and when stores get busy, so do their customer support departments. It is vital that you ensure your customer support operations are streamlined and prepared for the influx of requests that will indubitably come with the holiday season. In addition, proactive campaigns will help build consumer trust with your brand. These include email campaigns or product reviews on your website. However, you must make sure your staff is prepared to assist customers if your store is to make any headway this holiday season.