Holiday Lessons to Carry You Through 2014

There’s a lot to take from your time “in the trenches” of the holiday selling period: how little sleep you can actually operate on, how many dots are on the post office ceiling, and how much you ACTUALLY like this holiday after the 20th person has yelled at you over the phone.

But is there anything you can actually learn? Are there any real lessons that can help your business during the next year? In fact there are several things you can take away from this crazy time that will greatly benefit you in 2014, and it’s not just how much caffeine you can ingest without exploding.

Your Limits

It may sound like a joke, but it’s not. Knowing just how far you can go with certain things is a good idea, and what it takes for you to successfully run your business without going insane is one.

Why is this so important? It puts the rest of the year into perspective. You can always look back and think of the time you had 500 orders come in right before Christmas Eve and you still managed to pull it off. Everything else in context seems to not be so bad, and you’ll handle stressful times with class.

Where Problems Lie

If there’s ever a time for problems with your store, customer service, or business model in general to arise, it will be during the busy holiday madness. It’s like when you’re late for a meeting or something else important and all the lights are red or there’s a traffic jam. It’s just how the world works.

While they’re very frustrating at the time, write everything that goes wrong down, even if you fix it on the go. This way you can go back and investigate after the dust settles and see what you can mend. Even if you already pulled off a quick fix a better solution might be waiting for you if you take a closer look.

What Your Customers Actually Want

It’s always kind of a surprise when you get a ton of orders for items you had no idea were popular. Business owners usually have a pretty good idea of what’s going to fly off shelves before the holidays, but often those expectations are totally smashed once the grabbing begins.

After everything is said and done, make sure to go back and look at some reports to determine what your customers really snatched up. While you may have a mental tally of the “winner” of the season, check the raw numbers, also taking into account any returns or exchanges. Could this be what you need to focus on in 2014?

What Customers Like to Hear

When the poo hits the fan, you often say what you think the customer wants to hear so they’ll stop yelling at you. While you don’t want to make any promises you can’t keep and you don’t want to lie, it is important to understand what customers want to hear.

For example, if at some point you panicked and told a customer you would give them a deal on shipping, you may discover your shipping method is a little too costly for the average customer. Or it could tell you your customers enjoy discounts and sales a little more than you’re offering them. It’s up to you to figure out how to satisfy as many people as you can with all this new info.

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