Tricks To Survive Peak Season—in GIFs
by Lori Boyer
"Putting out peak season fires like …"
1. Plan, plan, plan
"Planning for peak season be ..."
Seriously, the earlier you start planning, the smoother the peak season will go. And while peak season is already here, it is never too late to start. Best practices recommend that you create a timeline with milestones to ensure you're on track.
Conduct an early inventory check
- When: Start at least two months before the peak season kicks off. For instance, if you're preparing for the Christmas rush, an early October inventory check would be ideal.
- Where: This is a task for your warehouse, so get everyone involved there.
- How: Use your inventory management system to forecast needs based on past sales data and upcoming promotions.
Evaluate staffing requirements
- When: Begin assessing at least six weeks before the peak season.
- Where: Consider your entire operation, from to packing and shipping.
- How: Review previous years' workloads, current order trends, and consider hiring seasonal staff or implementing overtime options.
Update website and shipping info
- When: Aim to update all information a month before the holiday season.
- Where: On your website's FAQ, checkout page, and any product pages that feature shipping info.
- How: Make sure to specify shipping deadlines, estimated , and any holiday-related shipping policies.
Consider holiday promotions
- When: Planning should start two months prior, but promotions can roll out a couple of weeks before the big days, like or Christmas.
- Where: Across all platforms—your website, social media, and via email newsletters.
- How: Use analytics to identify your best-performing products and create bundled offers or discounts. Make sure to factor these into your inventory and staffing plans.
By getting ahead of these tasks with proper timing and execution, you're setting yourself up for a successful, manageable peak season.
2. Set realistic deadlines
"Time flies during peak season!"
Navigating the maze of shipping can be daunting, especially during the busy holiday season. Setting realistic, achievable deadlines is key to ensure that you, your team, and your customers have a smooth experience. Here's a breakdown of what those deadlines could look like:
Communicate clearly on shipping times
- Standard shipping: If you're using ground services, make it known that orders should be placed at least 7-10 business days before the desired arrival date.
- Express shipping: For those who prefer speedier options, indicate that orders should be in 3-4 business days ahead of when they're needed.
Set cutoff dates for holiday delivery
- Thanksgiving: Aim to have all orders placed by November 10th for a stress-free delivery by the holiday.
- Christmas: December 15th should be the final day for guaranteed Christmas delivery using standard shipping methods.
- New Year's Eve: A December 23rd cutoff should suffice if you're providing express options.
Factor in time for returns and exchanges
- Pre-holiday returns: Have a deadline, perhaps a week before the major holidays, by which can be processed to either refund the customer or send the exchanged item in time for the holiday.
- Post-holiday returns: Specify a date, say January 15th, by which all holiday-related returns and exchanges must be initiated. This gives you ample time to restock and prepare for the next wave of orders.
By adhering to these guidelines, you give yourself a safety net to fall back on. Everyone involved will know exactly when to act, eliminating the element of surprise—or panic—from the equation.
3. Communicate with your team
“Keep those lines of communication open.”
Your team is your lifeline. Good communication is vital, especially when every minute counts. There are a few things you can do to make communication smooth and easy.
Daily briefings or stand-up meetings
Schedule brief 15-20 minute meetings every morning before the workday begins. Discuss the priorities for the day, any bottlenecks from the previous day, and encourage team members to share insights or concerns. This proactive approach can preempt a lot of issues.
Use a communication platform like Slack
Use Slack’s features to pin important messages, set reminders, and even integrate it with your project management tools or dashboards. This ensures that all communication is easily searchable, organized, and accessible.
Keep emergency contacts handy
Post it in conspicuous places—next to workstations, in break rooms, and also make a digital copy available, perhaps pinned in your communication platform. Be sure to include numbers for key personnel, nearby hospitals, equipment repair services, and any third-party vendors or partners. Having this list easily accessible can be a lifesaver, literally and metaphorically, during hectic times.
4. Don't forget self-care
"Finding peace in the chaos."
You're no good to your business if you’re burnt out. Even during the busiest times, self-care is non-negotiable. Just as we put the oxygen mask on ourselves on airplanes before helping those around us, we must put our “peak season oxygen mask” on ourselves first before we can be of true help to others.
- Schedule short breaks, even if it's just 5 minutes.
- Stay hydrated with water, not just caffeine.
- Eat balanced meals to sustain your energy.
5. Adapt and overcome
"Adapting to new challenges like…"
Despite all the planning, things can (and likely will!) go awry at some point. The key to success is adaptability and a positive attitude.
- Have a Plan B and Plan C (and D and E and F…).
- Be prepared to pivot strategies.
- Keep a troubleshooting guide for common issues.
Surviving peak season is no easy feat, but with comprehensive planning, a strong team, and a dash of self-care, you can not only survive but thrive!
"You made it!"
So gear up, folks! You got this!