The busiest shopping season of the year taking place during the winter season doesn't always present optimal business conditions.
Small businesses hoping to rake in extra revenue this holiday season could accidentally increase certain risks operating in the colder months. As a result, owners may end up spending more before they've had the chance to put holiday gains toward things that add value to their enterprise. Here are a few areas small businesses should really monitor:
Shoppers expect small businesses to crank up the heat during the winter, and owners should be happy to do so. Providing a comfortable respite from the chill keeps customers engaged and in the buying spirit.
That said, heat isn't free, and even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects a warm winter thanks to El Niño and the Energy Information Administration predicts heating resource costs will drop significantly, neither excuses wasteful energy practices. Instead, small business owners should take this warmer winter as an opportunity to retain as much as they can in energy costs. After all, not every year is an El Niño year. Sensible consumption today could help save big bucks tomorrow.
Small business owners who invest in something as simple as a hydraulic door closer can thaw out happy customers while preventing valuable heat from escaping.
2. Snow removal
Falling snow may be beautiful to watch, but accumulation can take a disastrous turn if small businesses aren't careful.
First, depending on a business owner's insurance plan, a roof collapse might be covered – what isn't covered is the amount of money these companies will lose out on by being out of commission during the biggest shopping season. Small businesses should keep an eye on how much snow collects on their roofs and look out for warning signs their structural integrity has been compromised, like leaks or cracks. If it gets to be too much, owners should contact their property managers or invest in snow removal equipment like a snow rake.
Additionally, customers coming in from the cold may accidentally track snow into a business, which melts and becomes a slipping hazard. The National Safety Council reported slip and fall accidents result in almost 9 million trips to the emergency room every year. Don't lose out on a prosperous new year because of something so easily avoided – a few absorbent door mats, a half dozen "Wet Floor" signs and an extra mop or two can provided added safety for customers as well as a small business owner's coffers.
"Inventory increases can be detrimental if companies don't scale up intelligently."
3. Inventory management
With so much extra commerce anticipated during the last quarter of the year, small business owners might be stocking up on products to increase sales. However, inventory increases can be detrimental if companies don't scale up intelligently. Additional SKUs can clutter a stockroom, making it harder to find the items customers are searching for. Moreover, if businesses can't sell these excess products, they might take a hit when they discount them in 2016.
While there's still a little time left, small businesses worried about an inventory-related holiday nightmare should take a closer look at their sales records to pinpoint which items will sell big and which ones might not. Also, owners should ask their suppliers if they can take advantage of smaller, more frequent deliveries.
Equipment and business industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.