It’s that time again. It hardly seems possible, but the Holiday Season is on the horizon. I’m not kidding! Canadian Thanksgiving is Monday, then comes Halloween. After that, it’s American Thanksgiving, immediately followed by the anticipated/dreaded retail bonanza of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Before you know it, it will be Christmas, and then the weird state of limbo between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. After that, we all get nine months to catch our breath and prepare for next time.
I’m kidding. Sort of.
Having spent my work life spread across three different CE segments — retail, AV installation and distribution — I have worked through many holiday seasons. I have accumulated a lot of opinions about what is, overall, the busiest time of the year.
Here’s a new opinion: I’m cautiously optimistic that this season will be busy and prosperous for my dealers, but this is by no means certain. Right now, everyone is struggling with product shortages thanks to both bogged down global logistics and the ongoing semiconductor shortage. It seems like virtually every consumer product has a chipset in it these days.
At the same time, COVID-19 is far from over, and there’s concern that consumer sentiment could just as easily dampen and flee to online sales as it could express itself in an outpouring of pent-up demand. I don’t know which one it’s going to be. I hope it’s the latter.
Preparing for whatever comes next, all we can do is focus on the things that we can control. No matter which segment you work in, the holiday season impacts you one way or another, and it’s important to be prepared.
Finishing touches are being put on marketing plans through to New Year and I work with my retailers. I mentioned earlier that I’m concerned online shopping will once again dominate retail spending this year. That’s a concern that my retailers share, and the focus has been on coming up with ways to incentivize customers to shop in person this year. What those incentives look like varies, but in order to get their share (or more) of revenue this year, getting more footsteps into stores must be a priority.
The other necessary preparation is getting orders into place well in advance. It’s more important than ever, with lead times running longer and product availability running leaner than usual. This is not the year to leave your order commitments to the last minute.
Unlike the frenzied preparations in retail, the tempo of activity among AV installers can seem tame. I know from past years the month of December can be quiet. Pleasantly quiet, after the years of working open-to-close for two months straight on the retail side. But leading up to the holiday, there was always activity. The looming dates on the calendar often spurred clients who were considering new systems or upgrades to commit, so their systems could be completed before they threw parties and entertained friends and family.
For AV install companies, right now is a good time to do some CRM work and prepare cards to send out to the clients in your database. The holiday on the face of the card is secondary: Christmas, Hanukkah, Halloween, Thanksgiving. Maybe even Woolfenoot if your clients have a weird sense of humor. What’s of primary importance is that the card is handwritten and personalized to the client. Mass-printed generic greetings from car dealerships and realtors don’t get a second glance. A nice card from YOU that shows you put some thought into it gets remembered.
As a metric, it’s easy to track card effectiveness: clients will call you to thank you for the nice card. You absolutely should also follow up with a call of your own, but you’d be surprised how many calls you’ll get in response.
Now that you’ve got them talking, it’s time to see if they have any wants and needs that you can take care of for them.