Size up 2016 holiday performance to set smart goals for this year

October 26, 2017

This post is part of our 2017 Holiday Planning series. Read the entire series here on the Clover blog, and check back for more tips and tactics.

There’s a well-worn adage that states, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”

As the holiday season rapidly approaches, it’s an appropriate thought for small businesses to bear in mind as they begin to undertake this year’s holiday planning.

In more specific business terms, understanding previous performance is an essential first step for setting intelligent goals. You can use elements of your own data and experiences, plus other information, to put yourself on solid footing.

With that in mind, this post will offer you a series of questions you should ask and answer as you review last’s year holiday performance. Answering them honestly and as accurately as you can will let you use this information to guide your holiday marketing, staffing, product and promotional ideas this shopping season. We’ll help you take a holistic look at last year with some qualitative and quantitative queries, along with questions that can help you think about longer-term business objectives and performance.

Let’s dive in.

Ask these qualitative questions about last year’s performance:

  • Did you feel prepared last year?
  • What do you recall about your and your staff’s level of ease (or frustration) during last year’s holiday season?

Reflect on your mindset prior to the 2016 holiday shopping season, and use those findings to power your motivation for boosting efficiencies this year. Thinking about your sense of your and your staff’s preparation for the holiday shopping season can help you determine the scope of changes you’ll need to make this year: will you launch an overhaul of your approach, or simply make tweaks that enable you to notch up your performance this year?

Ask these quantitative questions about last year’s performance:

  • How did you/your industry perform last year? Think in terms of gross revenue, gross profits, and holiday season monthly averages (November and December) versus rest-of-year average. Consider this your baseline goal.
  • What was you/your industry’s average number of daily transactions last year during the November/December holiday shopping season versus the rest of the year?
  • What was your/your industry’s average ticket size last year during the November/December holiday shopping season versus the rest of the year?

Understanding gross revenue is crucial, but having a handle on average transactions and ticket sizes is also key, because this information gives you a handle on which levers drove business for you and your competitors: high transaction volume, high transaction amounts, or a mix?

This information is your golden ticket to boosting performance this holiday season, and it isn’t as elusive as it might seem. Download the free Clover Insights app for iOS to find this data for specific types of business in your area.

But don’t stop there. Your goal shouldn’t just be to see a spike in one season based solely on holiday promotions. Knowing that the holidays are a great opportunity to build your business longer-term, your top goal should be converting that extra traffic of holiday shoppers into longer-term fans of your business.

Think about your specific goals in each of these areas:

Staying on top of the following metrics and activities can help you focus on hitting your holiday revenue goals while also translating holiday business activity into longer-lasting and profitable customer relationships.

Social media followers

  • Last year. How many social media followers did we gain, and as the result of which marketing efforts?
  • This year. How many social media followers do we want to gain during this year’s holiday season, and what is our plan to keep communication with them consistent when the season is over?

Email subscribers

  • Last year. How many email subscribers did we gain, and as the result of which marketing efforts?
  • This year. How many email subscribers do we want to get during this year’s holiday season, and what is our plan to stay in touch with them after the season is over so that those new relationships don’t go cold?

Gift cards

  • Last year. How many gift cards did we sell, if any, and what were our primary tactics for promoting them?
  • This year. How many gift cards do we plan to sell, and what is our plan to offer loyalty-building programs or products to shoppers who redeem them in-store in late December and beyond?

Loyalty programs

  • Last year. How many loyalty program signups did we get, and as the result of what types of marketing efforts?
  • This year. How many loyalty program signups do we plan to gain, and how do we follow up the holiday season with strategic loyalty offers that keep the momentum going?


  • Last year. How many events, if any, did we book? Did they pay off in terms of revenue and the additional logistical work and staff required to make them successful?
  • This year. How many events are we targeting for this year, how will we determine which new faces have the highest potential to become regular customers, and how will we connect with them while they’re in our location?

Make sure your goals are realistic, and that you think about how they will serve both the holiday revenue opportunity and your longer-term business objectives.

Also make sure you create a step-by-step plan to achieve them. Stay tuned to this series for more tips about how to move the needle against your holiday business goals.

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