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How small businesses can make the most out of holidays like Mother’s Day

By May 6, 2024No Comments

(This column originally appeared in The Inquirer)

Mother’s Day, which is on May 12 this year, is expected to generate more than $33 billion in spending according a recently released survey from the National Retail Federation. Eighty-four percent of Americans are expected to celebrate the holiday and spend about $274 per person.

Like most holidays, Mother’s Day is an opportunity for small businesses to entice new clientele. But it’s also a great time to bring back their existing customers with special offerings.

What advice do business owners have for others who are looking to capitalize on holiday spending?

Plan Ahead

“Our advice is to start planning early for the next holiday gifting season,” said Marques Davis, the owner of Mount Airy Candle Company, based in Germantown. Davis is hosting a special pop-up at her store for Mother’s Day, which will feature work from local makers and artisans.

“As we have grown and matured as a business over the past five to six years, we’ve learned that planning our product offering, production capacity, marketing tactics and retail partner engagement allows us to be at our best for our clients, as well as able to pivot more effectively and efficiently when issues arise,” she said. “This was especially true over the last few years when supply chain disruptions were the norm.”

Barry Gutin, the cofounder of Cuba Libre agrees.

“Planning ahead is the key to success, not only for Mother’s Day but for all holidays and celebrations,” he said. “For a restaurant like ours, having special menus, pricing, and information easily accessible ahead of time for our guests is very much appreciated for people planning special occasions.”

Focus on your strengths, but be flexible

“As the first Black women-owned ceramic gallery that features works by artists of color, women, and local artists, we offer products that are always consistent with this theme,” said Stefani Threet of West Philadelphia’s Ceramic Concept. “Like other holidays, we use Mother’s Day to focus on social impact projects including providing opportunities to ceramic artists of color to attend professional conferences, hosting Black-owned business pop ups, and youth initiatives.”

Threet says it’s also important to offer as many choices as possible.

“Having items that are specific to the season as well as functional, everyday items makes it easier for guests to find the perfect gift for their mom,” she said. At Ceramic Concept, Mother’s Day customers will find special candles, handmade soaps, bath salts, and curated gift sets made by local Black-owned brands.

Flexibility is critical. Harvey Oak Mercantile’s Shannon Elliott says to be prepared to put in the long hours, especially at the last minute, and to be ready for anything.

“Most people are in the moment, and you need to be there when they are ready to make their decisions,” she said. “Also, be ready with go-to recommendations. We are all unique, but the best sellers are the best sellers for a reason.”

Leverage technology

Finally, it’s important to leverage data and software. Mother’s Day is an opportunity to draw new faces into your business but it’s a missed opportunity if you’re not using technology to cater to and then continue to reach out to those new customers even after the holiday has passed.

Many small business owners rely on customer relationship management (CRM) tools, mobile apps and loyalty systems to collect information from their customers and make them part of a “VIP” club. That way they can use that information for future marketing campaigns, opt-in email communications, and tailored promotions based on their customers’ preferences.

Gutin says that their reservation system plays a big role during holidays like Mother’s Day.

“We embrace these features because we’ve found that technology and data has really helped us customize our guests’ experiences and helps our staff deliver special experiences seamlessly,” said Gutin. “Through our online reservation system, we now have the ability to add reservation notes and add on special dining upgrades and we’ve already seen an increase in reservations and dessert pre-sales. It’s really a win-win for guests and for restaurants.”

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