Are you wondering what to do about Royal Mail strikes changing their last posting dates to earlier in December? Maybe you’re worrying about Christmas sales and how to maximise your sales before the cut off? Perhaps you’re even worrying about whether your business can survive in business this year…
Over the last few days, I’ve received countless questions and worries from small business owners who are worried about Christmas sales in 2022. Read on for my thoughts and responses to help you reach the new year with your business and sanity intact.
Note: None of the content in this article is a guarantee of sales or business success. Everything is designed to be read as encouragement and inspiration. You are the best judge of what’s right for your business.
Further note: I believe in posties’ right to strike and stand up for better working conditions. I believe in Royal Mail. I have hope that these challenges build a stronger infrastructure for all. (And I’m very much hoping that leaders are prioritising the same.)
Royal Mail strikes aren’t the only thing that’s been hard this year
2022 isn’t the first year of big pivots for small businesses. We’ve had at least three big ones since 2020. And Christmas isn’t the first time small business owners have been worried about their survival this year. With a rising cost of living, increased material costs, and a bit of a slump in consumer spending, small businesses have been challenged this year.
All that to say: it’s not like small business owners were chill before Royal Mail brought their last posting dates forward and shortened the delivery window before 25 December.
I have so many thoughts on what you could do, as a small business owner, this December. There are plenty of options, and I encourage you to get courageous and creative wherever you can.
AND I’ve also put together three main categories of things you can do, depending on your circumstances and priorities.
Part One: Sell More Online Before The Cut Off
The most obvious step is usually worth considering, so let’s start with what we’ve got: sell as much as you can online before the Royal Mail last posting dates.
- Send out emails to your list. Tell them about the change to your updated last order dates. Show them your products and collections. Short and sweet is GREAT.
- Add free tracked delivery over a certain amount to encourage bigger orders.
- Ask friends and family to share your online shops.
- Collaborate with other small businesses who have a similar audience to you.
- Share your gorgeous products on social media – lean into how brilliant they are as gifts for different personalities and for different budgets. Check out this podcast episode of ideas to share your products.
- Reuse content you’ve already shown, especially video. This can really help to get your visibility and familiarity up.
- Don’t simply lean into the “shop small” message. YES, this is really, really important. AND you also need to show why YOUR products match your customers’ needs and wants. How will this product fit into their gift list? How will it light up someone’s face when they open it? Get specific.
- Remind customers that you can send direct to their loved ones, if you can.
- Keep sharing your last order dates so that customers know they need to order really soon!
When to stop taking orders?
- The answer to this question is unique to every business, and you need to be as comfortable as possible with your decision.
- Consider refunds. There’s a higher possibility of late arrivals this year. It’s worth communicating this to your customers when they order. And, like some of my clients, you might decide you don’t want to risk too many refunds. Set your last posting dates in line with your comfort levels, clarify your refund policy, but don’t simply hope for zero refund requests.
Part Two: Sell More Offline Or Digitally
If you’re worried about the postal service and don’t have any viable alternatives to Royal Mail, you can still make sales. It might need more creative thinking and more of a pivot, but there are great ways to raise revenue.
- Offer local collection or delivery so that you’re not reliant on delivery services. This could be a day when you’ll deliver, or a time slot when they can pick up from your studio.
- Tap into local Facebook groups and communities to share your local offers.
- Create vouchers so that customers can buy now for delivery in the new year. Make a nice PDF they can print at home (zero posties required!).
- Offer a digital version of a product that your customers can use in case gifts don’t arrive in time.
- Offer a digital download that you can charge for and customers can use or print at home. This can be a good cash boost, if needed.
Part Three: Survive Until 2023
I’ve had a heartbreaking number of messages from small business owners who are seriously concerned their business may not survive. If that’s you, this section is for you.
If you can survive, 2023 is a different year. Delivery services will bounce back. Royal Mail strikes will end. Another year will come. There will be sales available again.
- Work out what you need to survive to the new year: how much revenue, how much you need to save, how you can remain lucrative enough to stay in business. Get as many sales as you can using the tips above, and anything else available to you.
- It may not be fun or comfortable, but the circumstances of this year aren’t your fault. If you need to reduce your staff, change the size and shape of your business, or anything else to survive – that’s your wise choice. (And as someone who’s been there, I know how hard it really is.)
- And if there truly isn’t a way forward, and you need to pause or close, you’re not alone. It’s not your fault. Something stronger can be built in the future. You are still a brilliant, creative, unique human being.
More than anything, I encourage you to tend to your sanity and mental / physical health in the coming weeks, even when you’re being dealt some pretty hefty curveballs (Royal Mail strikes may only be one example). To get to January with your energy, sanity and business intact, you need to take care of YOU.
- Don’t try to do everything I’ve mentioned above. Take 3 actions and do them first. More overwhelm isn’t the answer.
- Set a bedtime every day and stick to it.
- Get support. Ask for as much help as you possibly can, including from friends and family who can recommend your products and spread the word.
- Ask for non-business support, like sorting out dinner or wrapping gifts. You may need even more energy than usual for your business right now.
- Remind yourself that you can’t control, change or foresee others’ actions. You’re dealing with the fallout of circumstances outside your control – it sucks but it’s not your fault.
- Be in good company. Friends, family, fellow small businesses. It makes a difference to know you’re not alone on all levels.
- Cultivate meaning and magic. All is not lost. Make sure you are getting some small pleasures and magic of the season, amidst it all.
I hope the ideas I’ve shared here help to give you some clarity and some inspired actions to take in response to Royal Mail strikes this year. I wish I could jump on a coaching call with every single person who is worried right now! Alas, this is what I can offer accessibly right now. I’ll also share video content over on Instagram for you.
Have I missed anything? What’s working for you?
Feel free to share in the comments below, or with me on Instagram – @thejennypace – so that we can support the small business community.
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