By the fourth quarter, most business owners are well aware of how successfully their year-end wrap-up is going to go. With three quarters of the year gone already, it’s easy to fall prey to assumptions that a good year is good enough or a bad year is unavoidable. But the fourth quarter, with its holidays and year-end marketing potential, has all the elements you need to propel your profits above and beyond expected year-end goals—if you do it right.
Below are five tricks to approaching your fourth quarter that will help you achieve better outcomes and higher profit margins by this year’s end. Don’t give up on increasing your numbers just because the year is almost over. There’s still a few more months—and a chance to improve your overall business success.
You should have already established clear goals for your yearly numbers. Well, now that you’ve seen how everything is going to play out, you can gauge how far ahead of or behind those goals you are. Some of your other quarters may have ended ahead of goal, while others fell behind. Assess what you need to do to catch up in this fourth quarter to meet your yearly goal for growth. Once you’ve got that goal down and all of your staff is on board and aware, then it’s time to get down to business.
Once you know your goals, you’ve got to establish what resources are available to work with. Your goals most likely break down into sales numbers or product objectives. This time of year, products of all types fly off the shelves and end up under Christmas trees or in other holiday celebrations across the country. You need to make sure you’re stocked up on items that have sold well around this time of year before, and you need to add in other merchandise that you can package up nicely for customers to give their loved ones this year.
After inventory is assessed and handled, you have to establish plans for how to push both new and previously popular merchandise. Remember that most people like easy, visually appealing presents. Also, mix up your marketing. Throw out some free and easy advertising on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Use pictures, special deals, or family fun events run through social media to your advantage. Make phone calls to previous customers. Whatever you have to do—reaching out to your customers means business success for your fourth quarter. They can’t come around to buy your products if they don’t know what you’ve got.
Are your employees trained on the best products for this holiday season? Are they aware of your sales goals and objectives? They should be. Particularly in a product-based sales environment, your employees need to know their goals, have incentives, and must be trained to upsell or verbally push certain products. Your staff also needs to be capable of handling larger than normal sales volume, online purchases and shipping, difficult customers, and certain crises within your store.
Another highly effective way to increase profits is simply going back to the budget. Sometimes, to make the books balance at the end of the year, you have no choice but to cut costs. When your sales outcomes are falling short, at least analyzing and selecting a few nonessential expenses to cut out of your budget for the final quarter can help draw you a bit closer to the black. Even more, though, you may be able to discover wasteful practices, unproductive employees, or inefficient processes that can be improved or removed for a much more significant impact on your budget without the strain of cutting any essential items.
If your sales and profitability outcomes are looking dreary by third-quarter’s end, take some inspiration from football. Just because you’re behind doesn’t mean you can’t make a spectacular comeback. It’s happened before, both in football and in business. Use the holiday seasons and good strategic sense to drive your business success this year. You’ve still got time to even out the score—as long as you play it right.