In a recent blog, I wrote about preparing your business for the traditionally quiet summer period. But there’s another side to this, where the lead up to the festive season can be the busiest time of year for many businesses.

2016-12 Ramp your business up as the year winds down

So how do these business owners make the most of this opportunity? This is where the power of Xero’s customer community insights come into focus. Here are some great tips from Xero customers – whose businesses ramp up as the year winds down.

Measure twice, cut once

It pays to start small over the months leading up to Christmas, says Jordana Blackman, the founder of Chicks Who Ride Bikes. She says to refine your customer experience before the busy season hits, since you have fewer customers and therefore, less risk.

Jordana’s take on this is simple. “For example, 54 vendors signed up to the site in a very short period of time,” she says, of her early months in business. “I’m really happy about that. It’s not that there are only 54 vendors out there … there may be 1,000 people who are right for us! But how do you give good customer service to all those people while trying to do everything else?

“The slow-burn approach makes the numbers smaller, but it makes the experience bigger.”

Get dashboard savvy

The above advice can help for the year ahead, but what about the here and now? How can business owners improve operations when sales ramp up? Amy Hourigan of Amy Who Digital, which is now part of MindVision, says don’t underestimate the power of the visual dashboard.

“I have dashboarding software linked to my KPIs, so I can look at my business at a glance. I’d recommend that for anyone. Setting up those analytics has been really important for me – I no longer spend ten hours trawling through data just trying to work out what’s working and what needs improving.”

Think outside the box

While your market may remain more or less the same across the year, there’s a chance that it can diversify or even completely transform in the lead up to the festive season.

Jordana Blackman weighs in on this, when it comes to Chicks Who Ride Bikes. “At Christmas, it’s not just women buying for themselves – as it might traditionally be most of the year round,” she says. “Men are buying for women, too. Cycling is an addictive sport where one piece of kit is never enough! Which means it’s always a good gift option.”

Jordana also flags that your local market may shift to an overseas market over the Australian summer period, or at other times. She gives her own experience as an example. “It’s hot in Australia at Christmas – so it’s not the best time of year for cycling….I’m also going to focus on seasonal cycling periods and industry events, like the Tour de France.”

These business owners all share a similar approach. If the festive season is your busiest time of year – with a little lateral thinking, the gift is there for the taking to put your business in great shape for the year ahead.

Photos: AmyWho MindVision; Chicks Who Ride Bikes.