Holiday weekends are a prime opportunity for small businesses, especially those in the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries, to boost sales.
Labor Day weekend, in particular, spurred more air travel in 2016 than other midyear holidays, such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, according to an Expedia survey. More than 25% of Americans plan to travel out of town during the weekend this year.
Plus, the consumer confidence index increasing in July to nearly a 16-year high signals that consumers hold a positive view of the economy and may be more willing to spend more come Labor Day weekend.
Here are three ways your small business can prepare for long holiday weekends.
1. Run promotions or sales
Promotions can be a great way to attract attention to your business. They can be especially useful for restaurant owners hoping to draw in diners.
Consider deals such as prix-fixe menus, a multicourse meal at a fixed price, and drink and dessert specials.
Last year for Labor Day weekend, Chicago restaurants offered specials including 30% off wine, all-you-can eat deals, and 20% off meals for local union members, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Also, you can partner with charities and organizations related to the holiday weekend. For Labor Day weekend, you could support a group related to jobs or creating jobs, says David Mitroff, a business consultant and restaurant-marketing expert based in San Francisco.
“You can say that anyone that comes in this weekend, 5% or 10% of our revenue will go toward this particular charity or group,” he says.
With students heading back to classrooms around Labor Day weekend, retailers can run specials and promotions, too. Back-to-school spending is expected to reach $27 billion this year, according to a Deloitte survey. Consumers spend the most on clothing and accessories, followed by school supplies, and computers and hardware, according to the survey.
2. Guard against theft
More travel and business activity means increased exposure to theft, says Scott Humphrey, second vice president of risk control for Travelers, an insurance company.
For retailers, the cost per external shoplifting incident doubled to $798.48 in 2016, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2017 National Retail Security Survey. These incidents accounted for 36.5% of lost inventory. The report shows employee theft accounted for 30% of lost inventory, with an average cost of $1,922.80 per incident.
If you spot a customer you think might be stealing, ask if he or she needs help finding an item or help carrying items to the register, Humphrey says. It can send an indirect message that you’re aware they may be doing something other than shopping, he adds.
And consider installing security cameras and dropping hints to employees that the store is being monitored, Humphrey says.
You should also establish clear policies that let employees know you’re serious about theft. For example, you can make the first occurrence grounds for firing and apply the rule to all employees, full-time and seasonal. You can also adopt a policy that lets employees report suspected theft and remain anonymous.
Keep detailed records of transactions and review them daily to see if sales match up to inventory.
“If you know you have high-value items on floor, you should be able to know you sold ‘x’ number each day,” Humphrey says.
3. Revisit staffing needs
If you need more help for the next holiday weekend, consider posting job listings on seasonal hiring websites such as Snagajob or CoolWorks, or on hiring apps such as Proven, which posts your listing on more than 100 job sites at once.
If you receive more than a few responses, interview candidates in groups to speed up the process, Mitrioff says.
“Instead of having to explain the company and the job over and over again to each candidate, it just happens once,” he says, adding, “Then you can do one-on-ones and call back people who might be a good fit.”
Mitroff also suggests clients explain the work environment, as well as the position’s duties, in the job description. Hiring the right seasonal workers is key to curbing thefts, he says.