As I write this, Black Friday week has come and gone. The balloon has gone up, so to speak, on the holiday selling season.
Regardless of which channel you work in and which side of the business you’re on, this time of year impacts you and you need to prepare accordingly.
These days, working on the distribution side, my holiday preparations look very different than when I worked in retail or in AV installation. Personally, I spent the last three weeks reaching out to my retailers and coaching them to place their orders for Black Friday as early as possible.
Otherwise, if everyone nationwide places their orders in the couple of days before, as has happened in the past, the warehouse gets a monumental logjam of orders all at once and trying to get them all out the door in time is not a pretty sight.
Too often I get panicked texts or phone calls on the Thursday saying “Lee! I need my order tomorrow!” to which I have to respond, “You placed it this morning, and so did everyone else. What did you think was going to happen?”
At the same time, I needed to reach out to my commercial and B2B dealers. Even though they don’t do retail, they’re impacted by the holiday shipping calendar. And if they have mission-critical fleet deployments or commercial installations they need to manage their ordering around the giant hump of retail orders coming down the pipe.
I’m only half-joking when I say that I’m going to take Black Friday week off next year. I’ll go on holiday, and set my away message to say, “I’m not here. If you’re calling me this week because your inventory is in a pinch, you have only yourself to blame. I told you three weeks ago to order early.”
You may wonder: Does it get busier for AV installers as it does for retailers or do they remain unaffected by the holidays?
They do end up preparing for the holidays, but in their own way.
The holiday schedule can be tough on AV install dealers, but for different reasons than what retailers experience. With client’s Christmas parties and family gatherings installers generally can’t get into people’s homes after mid-December. So the imperative is to get everything as buttoned up as possible before then.
The focus needs to be on finishing jobs before the break, while keeping the schedule flexible enough to accommodate last minute changes.
Mostly for AV pros there’s a need to be accessible for their clients over the holiday break. It’s typical to maintain a tech or two at on-call status 24/7. Murphy’s law being what it is, if a client is going to have trouble with their system, it’s likely to happen when they have company coming.
It’s actually wise to be proactive here. Front office staff should already be in the habit of making regularly scheduled client satisfaction calls. And right now is an ideal time to give clients a friendly phone call to say “hi” and to make sure that their system is performing correctly.
This way, if there’s anyone whose system is acting up, but they haven’t quite gotten around to calling yet, there’s plenty of time before Christmas to schedule a service call to troubleshoot before they have company.