The ultimate Small Business Saturday checklist

The holiday season is upon us, which means a lot of celebrating, a lot of food, and a lot of holiday shopping, of course. While many consumers wait all year long to flock to Target and Best Buy on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for the hot deals, they also head to their favorite small businesses and local on Small Business Saturday. This year it’s on Saturday, November 30. 

American Express launched the annual holiday in 2010 as a way to steer consumers into the “shop small” mindset during the busy holiday season. Local communities have been reaping the benefits ever since. In 2018, a reported 104 million shoppers in the United States supported small businesses by spending a record high of $17.8 billion. 

Are you ready for the increase in foot traffic and boost in business on Small Business Saturday? With a little promotion and extra effort to make your store stand out, you’ll have ample opportunity to increase your revenue and hopefully gain a whole new base of loyal customers. Here’s a checklist to get you in tip-top shape for the big day. 

1. Get rid of clutter 

Customers walking into your store for the first time don’t want to see disorganized racks and shelves. Ensure you have a distraction-free space by taking some extra time to get rid of unnecessary items and arrange your products in an eye-pleasing manner. 

Another aspect of clutter is having too many products to choose from. Keep things simple and avoid the dreaded decision paralysis among your customers by reducing the number of choices they have and creatively categorizing your store (example: gifts based on zodiac sign or personality type). 

2. Schedule some extra hands

More customers means more customer service will be needed, and local businesses are known for excelling in this department. Which is great, because it matters. According to a recent study, 89% of customers say they think less of a brand if they experience poor customer service. 

Keep your great reputation alive by scheduling a more robust team than normal, and even consider hiring some extra seasonal help for the occasion.

3. Make sure they’re ready 

Your employees should exude an exciting vibe on Small Business Saturday, so make sure they’re not only coming into work with the right attitude, but that it also carries through their entire shift. Let your team alternate tasks so they don’t get burned out on a specific duty, and be sure to enforce breaks for everyone. 

It’s also important to review your customer service guidelines before the big day. Hold a meeting and make sure everyone is up to speed on all of the new specials and discounts, and go over possible customer scenarios so each employee is prepared for whatever may arise.

4. Take another look at your website

You may be a brick and mortar store, but consumers are most likely doing a little research online before they make a decision on whether or not they should step inside your shop. 

Consider optimizing your site for local search through a service such as MozLocal, feature your most popular products on your website (if you aren’t already), and let visitors know you’re participating in Small Business Saturday by highlighting any specials or deals you plan on offering. 

5. Plan a promotion

Speaking of specials and deals, it’s important that you have an offer that that stands out. Consumers may be set on shopping local, but a deal’s a deal, right? Consider a special discount on a popular item, a coupon that customers can use on their next visit, or even a free gift with another purchase. 

Do you have a loyalty program in place for your repeat customers? Another great option for an enticing deal is to announce that reward points will be doubled on any purchases made on Small Business Saturday.

6. Make it a party

Holidays are meant to be celebrated, so why not throw your own little shindig to get more customers in the door? Take Small Business Saturday a step further by providing food and drink, holding activities for children, hiring a DJ, or even holding some kind of contest (tacky sweaters, anyone?). 

The event will at the very least provide great photo opportunities for you to promote on your social media page as the festivities occur, which could potentially bring in more customers as the day goes on. 

7. Promote, promote, promote

It’s time to get the word out on the great day you’ve planned. Utilize all of your social media channels to let customers know about your plans to participate. American Express encourages businesses to use the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday to promote any specials they’re offering, so join in! 

Speaking of American Express, the company also offers a free online tool for you to create custom posters, social media posts, or email templates so you can reach as many customers as possible. 

8. Partner with other small businesses

Teaming up with other surrounding small business owners will benefit everyone involved. Partner with your neighbors by creating a map of all participating stores in the area, and offering extra rewards to customers who visit all of the stops. 

Remember that party we mentioned earlier? Make it a block party by coming up with a theme and having each store host different activities and events that are related to it. Together you will form a sense of community, which may convince new customers to continue to support local businesses every other day of the year. 

9. Share your unique story 

One of the joys consumers experience while visiting local businesses is hearing the refreshing stories of how they got started in the first place. Your unique narrative will help you connect with the community and create lasting bonds with customers who feel more compelled to support your local business after they understand the journey it took to get where you are today.

10. Incentivize the day for your staff

After you’ve set your team up for a successful Small Business Saturday, reward them for their efforts so they have more motivation to make the most out of the busy day. The reward can come in the form of a higher commission for the day, a sales contest to promote a little friendly competition, or even just a team dinner at the end. If everyone has something to look forward to, the day will go a lot smoother. 

Remember—the goal behind Small Business Saturday isn’t to get a one-off jump in sales. It’s a chance to get your name out into the community and show everyone the unique experience you have to offer. If you do it right, your efforts will be rewarded with a new set of customers who will frequent your shop for years to come. 

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