12 Steps to Surviving the Holidays

The end of the year and the holidays both come at the same time every year. And yet, like clockwork, clients get caught by surprise. Every. Single. Year. If you are surrounded by forward-thinking, early planners who have never run into this issue, consider yourself incredibly lucky. (And also, what is your secret?)

For most distributors, the end-of-the-year rush causes a Q4 of good, bad, and ugly. In other words: profit spikes (good), low stock (bad), and literally never taking a single day off until you pass out on your keyboard just in time for EXPO (ugly). 

While we can’t solve all of your procrastinating client problems, we can make sure YOU are as prepared as possible. Here are our top tips for surviving the holidays/year-end. You can do this! We are rooting for you!

Start NOW! 

No, it’s NOT too early. Here are some ideas to get you started. 

  1. Budgets: Do you know when your client’s fiscal year ends? If they run on a calendar year, they may run into a “use it or lose it” situation. That means they have budget to spend, but if they don’t use it all, they’ll lose it the next year. This is a great time for an email campaign to those customers who are going to run out of money. Encourage them to get their orders in now so their accounting departments can process the invoices in time. Start with the holiday section on ZOOMcatalog.com for ideas!
  1. Social: Start hitting your social media NOW. Use our #StealableSocial or your own designs and show off exciting concepts. If you get them thinking now, it will give you time to get to what they really want later. 
  1. Extras: This is the time to hit things like kitting, drop shipping, and personalization. These are great ways to add some extra dollars to your pocket AND create something really amazing for your end users. But these things take time, so bring them up early!
  1. Self Promo: Are you waiting until the end of the year to thank your own clients? That’s nice and all, but it doesn’t do you nearly as much good as thanking them now. Remember, at the end of the year, they are getting thanked by TONS of companies, not to mention their own families and friends. Your gift is likely to get lost in the mix. Send your thank you early, and you’ll remind them to get their own ordering done too!

Get In the Mix 

For when things are moving and grooving, but you still have some slackers who are behind. It is time to inspire.

  1. Links: Don’t overlook the placement of links for inspiration. Add a favorite catalog to your signature or a holiday selection to your website. You don’t have to stop there either. Is there a link to holiday ideas on your invoices? How about a QR code in your office lobby? These are great ways to remind your clients of what is new. 
  1. Favorites: Have you seen all these amazing gifts out there IRL? Order some samples, try them out, and take pictures of them. Then add those photos to your social media. (Or even video if you’re ambitious.) There is nothing that legitimizes a recommendation quite like using what you are selling. 
  1. Thanks: So, hopefully, you have already sent out those self-promos. This is a good time for a grand gesture. Think about sponsoring a lunch or breakfast or sending something fun to more than just your personal contact in an organization. No strings attached, just an “I know you are working hard, so here is something to make your day better.”Not only will this remind them to thank their own clients, but it will get you in with more levels of the organization. Talk about a win-win!
  1. Get Ready: Supply chain was rough last year. This isn’t the time to revert to how it has always been done. Be proactive and reach out to your suppliers. Have a few great solutions in your pocket with deep inventory and good production to make sure that you are ready when someone isn’t sure what they want. Set your go-to options as a signature in your email, so you don’t even have to retype when someone asks.  

Wait, Christmas is WHEN?! 

Those “I need something NOW!” clients are still coming. We’ve all answered those requests. Even at the last minute, it’s not too late. 

  1. Deadlines: Create ordering deadlines. If you order by X date, I can get you these items. Y date, these items, etc. Think last minute, quick turn, deep inventory, and send it out. This will help you reinforce stock availability and production timelines early and reinforce when you run into tight turns. 
  1. READY: See Get Ready above and STEP IT UP. This is when you can outshine. Speed to response can make or break your situation. Proactively create some holiday lookbooks with reliable partners who have live inventory. That way, you can quickly check availability and keep moving. Check out PCNA, Gemline, SanMar, S&S, and Ariel all of who offer this on their website through ZOOMstudio.
  1. No, But: You will have situations where what they want isn’t going to happen. It is a hard lesson, but sometimes you just have to say no. Setting up unrealistic expectations isn’t worth it. When you have to say “no” be ready with a “but.” “No, I can’t do a fully custom beanie, but have you seen this cool simulated leather patch?” “No, I can’t get that particular product, but I have this new option that is in stock, and we can quickly turn.” Sometimes those responses will make them trust you even more because you’ve become an advisor, not an order-taker!
  1. Group Hug: No one operates completely on their own. From supplier partners, assistants, production teams, and beyond, someone helped you own your end of year. Make sure that you are thanking them, so they have your back next year when the process begins all over again. 

It’s a tough time of year, and with businesses rebounding, the idea that it will slow down has passed. But we will get through it together. 

Be sure to follow us on social media to get some of our recommendations for our favorite products this holiday season. We will also be encouraging suppliers to keep our #StealableSocial going.