Bells are jingling, and trees are lit. Soon, many of us will sing Auld Lang Syne as we pack away 2018, break out the bubbly, and welcome 2019.
In the thick of holiday transactions and year-end reporting, many merchants struggle to find time to think forward to 2019, much less plan for it. But as the old adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
To help merchants step ahead of holiday to-dos and into 2019, we’ve compiled our best strategic planning content for easy perusal.
A strategic plan may sound like something found on the desk of a 5-star general or the CEO of an international firm. True. But it should also be on the desktop, wall, or device of every small business owner.
Why? Because a strategic plan charts a course to a goal, whether for a military maneuver, major acquisition, or small business. And it serves to guide and remind leaders of that goal.
Fortunately, building a strategic plan is within every merchant’s grasp simply by considering the following 6 areas. To help you on your way to a plan, be sure to read this guide to strategic planning for small businesses and 8 tips to help small businesses with successful strategic planning.
1. SWOT Analysis
Before business owners can build a strategic plan, they need to know exactly how their businesses are faring. Enter SWOT, a simple acronym for 4 areas that every business owner should assess to determine the state of the business: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Learn more about SWOT:
- Read what you need to know about SWOT analysis and how to do it properly
- Take a look at more tips on how to conduct a SWOT analysis for your small business
- Discover handy SWOT analysis tools for small business
Productivity is simply getting more bang for your buck and time. Whether it’s improving your time management, increasing employee output, or improving communication among your employees, greater efficiency is within reach. For inspiration on the productivity improvements you can target and how to make them in 2019, take a look at this concise guide to increasing productivity.
And peruse these productivity tips:
- Check out 46 productivity hacks for retail business owners
- Boost employee productivity with gamification
- See what productivity insights these 7 small-business owners share
- Keep yourself organized with 10 simple productivity hacks
- Avoid these time-wasters: 6 ways small businesses waste time
- View 4 productivity tricks for small business owners
More tips for Restaurant Owners:
- Download this ebook: How restaurant managers can make more time in the week
- Establish more effective communication between the front and back of the house
- Pick your tools: 5 apps that will transform restaurant management
- Improve restaurant productivity with the right management operations and software
- Know the benefits of your POS and use it to enhance staff communication
- Learn the 5 types of restaurant-employee theft and how to prevent them
Staffing is a critical element in every strategic plan. The trick to effective staffing is knowing or being able to estimate when it’s time to bring on your first employee, expand your existing staff, or add a middle manager to your team to help with the day-to-day. First, view this guide to hiring and managing employees and these top 8 hiring tips for small business.
Then, review this staffing checklist:
- Prepare: Take these 7 steps before hiring for your small business
- Ask questions: 5 questions to ask before hiring your first employee, customer-facing staff, or manager
- Consider hiring a hero: Why your business should hire more military talent
- See if you have talent inside your business to reduce the cost of employee onboarding
And one more item for Restaurant Owners:
- Cultivate a stellar restaurant staff with these hiring and management tips
4. Sales and Marketing
Rarely can a business grow without the help of a sales and marketing strategy. For most business owners, a stellar marketing strategy is an absolute. But how do you begin to figure out the tactics that could work for your business? Check out this concise guide for smart marketing to learn about techniques that work, running mobile marketing campaigns, improving your website’s SEO, and more. Remember, successful marketing is a test-and-learn process. If one tactic doesn’t work, try another.
Note these marketing tactics:
- Build your strategy: 25 small business marketing strategies and 10 most effective marketing strategies for small business
- Ask these 5 questions before you launch a marketing program
- Use mobile: How mobile coupons boost foot traffic and sales
- Don’t forget social media – it’s easier than you think
- Gifts cards: 4 smart ways to build a program and 5 ways they drive sales and win customers
Marketing tips for Restaurant Owners:
- Introduce money-making restaurant marketing ideas and sales techniques
- Check out innovative solutions for challenges in the restaurant business
- 5 reasons you need gift cards at your counter-service restaurant
Customers are indispensable to a business’ health and one of the most important considerations on its strategic plan. Unfortunately, many businesses get so involved in daily chores, they overlook the customer’s experience. Further, some businesses fall into the trap of thinking existing customers are easily replaced by new ones. Not so. For a realistic perspective on the value of each customer, business owners must first understand customer lifetime value (LCV), how to calculate it, and why it matters.
And while holiday crowds are bustling, whether in your shop or on your website, it’s the perfect time to turn holiday shoppers into loyal customers by introducing tactics that help you engage and connect with your customers beyond that initial holiday transaction.
How can you engage customers?
- Learn what your VIP customer feedback is telling you
- Harness the power of customer testimonials
- Turn complaints into opportunities: Handling serious customer complaints
- Offer affordable perks to attract key customer types
And Restaurants Owners can:
- Forge meaningful customer experiences with this guide
- Build a loyalty program: How this Clover café built a killer customer loyalty program
- Turn a bad experience or an endless wait into an all-star opportunity
Understanding how profitable your business is means more than staying on top of the bottom line. Numbers called key performance indicators (KPIs) indicate the health of your business and identify potential risks before they’re realized. Whether it’s determining your average ticket size, conversion rate, or customer acquisition cost, your KPIs can help you manage your cash flow and determine if your marketing efforts warrant the time and dollars you’ve invested in them. Learn more about how to measure your business health with these 9 numbers.
- 2019 Planning: 4 numbers to watch in long-range planning
- Monitor the financial performance of your business by analyzing these business numbers
- Check out these tips for managing your cash, identify where you might be bleeding cash, and how to maximize your profitability
Measurement tasks for Restaurant Owners:
- Analyze the profitability of your restaurant with these business metrics
- Learn how to calculate your restaurant’s real food costs
- Check out 5 growth hacks to increase profits at your quick service restaurant
- Read about a company that helps restaurant owners sleep at night
Launching a New Business?
Before you draft a strategic plan, apply for a business license, set up a domain for your website, or rent office space, read this guide to launching your business. From business planning to mapping out a hiring strategy, this guide offers insights that’ll help jump-start your small business.
More tips on starting a small business:
- How to start a local business
- 5 questions to ask a potential investor
- 5 mistakes new business owners make when redesigning their website
- 4 most and least profitable small business industries
- How to expand into a new market or service
Interested in opening a restaurant? Check out this must-read: How to open and run a restaurant.
Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, Sun Trust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including Ignite Payments, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.