5 ways to prepare your service-based business for the holidays

Want to close out the year with a bang? (And I don’t mean fireworks.) As a service-based business owner, you can boost your sales in Q4 plus ensure you take a proper break this holiday season. It just takes some proper planning, and there’s no better time to do it than now.
Read on for tips on how to prepare your service-based business for the holidays.

1. Plan your vacation time

If you’re planning to take a break this holiday season, you’ll need to carve out that time to ensure it doesn’t overlap with client projects. I’d recommend planning your holiday season vacation no later than Q3. You need to give yourself plenty of time to wrap up projects or find someone to outsource them to (which we’ll talk about in the next section).
As a service-based business owner, you might think you can’t take a vacation. Unlike product businesses that can ship it and forget it, service businesses require the owner and/or team members to be there to perform the service.
But you can take a proper vacation (as in, one where you don’t do any work!). As a service-based business, you have two options when it comes to taking time off:
Outsource your work temporarily. Find a trusted freelancer to subcontract your work to while you’re gone. Be sure to let your clients know someone else will be taking over temporarily.
Take on extra work before or after your vacation. What this means is you’ll either take on extra work before your vacation or after your vacation so you can meet your revenue goals and still take time off.
For example, let’s say you run a consulting firm,  If you know you’ll be taking the last week of December off, and you’re the head consultant, you’ll need to make sure to start booking out your January slots in, say, October or November. That will help you make up for the income you could lose when you stop work in the last week of December.

2. Line up help ahead of time

If you’ve decided to outsource work so you can take a vacation this holiday season, then you’ll need to line up help ahead of time. I’d recommend doing this at least one month in advance. You’ll need time to find contractors, thoroughly vet them, onboard them, and introduce them to your clients.
Where to find help:

  • If you have team members, such as if you own an agency, prep a junior team member ahead of time to take on your responsibilities.
  • If you’re a freelancer, tap into your network to see if anyone is looking for extra work this holiday season.
  • You can also advertise on job boards

3. Create a holiday marketing calendar

Ideally, you should be thinking about holiday promotions as early as Q1. But if you’re just now getting started, it’s definitely not too late.
Here are the major days businesses typically prepare promotions for:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s

Decide which holidays you’ll create promotions for, and then you can start working on marketing collateral for that promotion. This includes things like:

  • Emails
  • Social media copy
  • Graphics
  • Coupon codes
  • Blog Posts

4. Automate your holiday promotions

Now that you’ve got your holiday marketing calendar, it’s time to automate and schedule as much of it as you can. This means, for example, if you have a sequence of holiday marketing emails to promote your Black Friday sale, load them up in your email marketing service a week or so in advance so you don’t have to sit there on Thanksgiving night manually hitting send.
And if you have social media posts for the holiday season, use a social media scheduling tool to set those up. Some schedulers you could use:

5. Offer a flash sale or time-limited discount.

One way to book out your service-based business before taking a vacation is to offer a flash sale or time-limited discount. A flash sale is typically a very short time period, such as 24 hours or two days.
For example, I worked with a graphic design firm who, during the holiday season, offered a 20-percent discount for clients who booked for 2019 and paid before 2018 ended. That was a great way for me as a client to save some money and for her as a service provider to guarantee business in the new year.
So pick a service package that you’d like to discount for a short time period, then advertise it on your website and send the offer to your email list.

Bonus: If you plan to raise your rates, now’s a great time to do it!

The holidays are typically a time for your service-based business to send clients greeting cards. With the close of the year and everyone planning for what’s to come, it’s also a great time to alert your clients that you’re raising rates.
This can work out beautifully as a sales tactic. For current or returning clients, you can turn this into a time-limited offer. Here’s an example:
“As the new year approaches, I wanted to let you know of my rate changes: Starting Jan. 1, 2019, my rate for [service] will go from [old price] to [new price].
My goals for 2019 are to provide deeper focus on each project and raise my level of service across the board for a smaller group of clients, and I would love for one of those clients to be you.
As a thank-you for being such a great client, for any project requests you submit to me during the month of December, I will still honor your current rate. The new rates will go into effect for any projects requested starting January 1st.
If you have any questions, please let me know.”

Boost sales for your service-based business this holiday season

It’s never too early to start prepping for the holiday season, especially if you’re a service-based business owner.
Let’s recap the ways you can get ready for the holidays:

  • Plan your vacation time.
  • Line up help ahead of time.
  • Create a holiday marketing calendar.
  • Automate your holiday promotions.
  • Offer a flash sale or time-limited discount.
  • Raise your rates.

With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to closing out the year with a much-needed break and a boost in sales.