Howard Bank to merge with First National Bank.
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410-750-0020        Routing #: 0550‍03434
Blog Author: 
Chelsea Crossen
It should come as no surprise that small businesses have struggled throughout the pandemic. No one could have foreseen the lingering effects beyond the initial impact. There is no doubt that this year will look different for consumers and small businesses; and with adversity comes adaptation. So as the holiday season approaches, we’ve outlined some tips for small businesses in preparing for the holiday shopping season.

1. Keep Safety Top of Mind
As the pandemic evolves, people want to feel safe before entering stores. Make sure your patrons are following all CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Depending on each merchants’ situation, this may call for limiting the number of shoppers inside at one time, requiring face coverings, offering hand sanitizer, and social distancing markers on the floor. This might also mean designating different doors for entering versus exiting, implementing touch-free payments, or offering curbside pick-up, to name a few.

2. Create an Online Presence
There may be patrons who still don’t feel safe enough to shop in person. So having an active online presence is imperative. An online store is ideal, but not your only option. Social media and online business directories are simple alternatives to keep your name top of mind and allow consumers to connect with you easily. And keep in mind, the “holiday rush” typically comes with an increase in customer inquiries. Plan to have extra representatives available for customer service needs and be sure to train them accordingly. The customer experience is a critical part in gaining and retaining new customers.
3. Opt for Products Over Experiences
Consumers often enjoy exchanging experiences as gifts. This year, more people will be purchasing products over experiences. If your business’s main source of revenue comes from selling experiences, find a way to offer products or increase your product offerings. For example, travel agencies, spas, and boutique hotels might struggle this holiday season. However, offering a “Destination Gift Box” might help offset the struggles. The idea is that the gift boxes would be filled with restaurant gift cards, candles, spices, recipes, books, etc. to give the thrill of travel while at home.
4. Partner Locally
Piggybacking off of #3, small businesses are getting hit hard by the pandemic. If there is a way to partner with other local, small businesses – do it! At Howard Bank, we believe in the power of community. Forget the competition; we’re better together! And supporting other local businesses ultimately helps the local economy.
5. Add Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
The big guys are doing it, and so should you. Don’t stress about trying to make your prices as low as the ones seen on Amazon. Your products there are made right here, locally, and that’s what makes them unique and great. People understand the value of local. Even a 5% discount can go a long way for a consumer wanting to shop small but still maintain a budget.
6. Assess and Re-Assess
The fact of the matter is, no one has ever had to navigate something like this before. We’re all learning as we go. Assess your current operations and offerings to come up with a plan. And after you get through the holiday hurdle, re-assess. Determine what worked well, what didn’t, what people liked, what people disliked, and plan again. A habit is formed anywhere between 18 to 254 days depending on the person. That means, on average, it will take 66 days for a new behavior to become an instinctive one. We’ve been in this pandemic far longer than 66 days. Track the trends to stay relevant. And if you’re ever looking for a second opinion, local market expertise, or small business solutions, we’re here to help!


The information contained herein is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, tax, legal, or business advice.

Blog Category: 
Monday, November 23, 2020
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