The holidays are a busy time! Here some tips to get ahead and keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed.

Be prepared

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That’s especially true during the holiday season. You need to know how your business will tackle all the holiday challenges. Look at last year’s order volume and staffing levels, and adjust your shop’s schedule for this holiday season accordingly. If you had a lot of last minute orders last year, make sure you leave room in your schedule to accommodate those orders.

Take a moment to review your client list: Do you have clients you had reach out to you for gift ideas in the past or clients you know who would appreciate gifting your merchandise? Have some ideas on hand to present to those clients, and take the time to reach out to them. Know how you’ll deal with any potential problems or glitches so you can still deliver orders on time to your clients.

Set your deadlines

As much as you would like to meet all your customers’ demands, there is a limit on how many late orders and rush orders you can deliver, and there is a certain amount of time it takes you to prepare and ship orders. Going into the holidays, sit down and figure out your timeline for delivering orders for the holiday season. Make sure you are open with your customers about turnaround time, which might be longer than normal due to increased order volume. Publicize your Christmas ordering deadline, and reach out to customers you think are likely to order that you haven’t heard from. Nothing can break trust with your customers like not delivering an order they’re depending on, especially if that order includes a holiday gift.

Take advantage of incentives

Shopping gets crazy at the holidays, as people rush to fill their gift lists, often waiting until the last minute. While it may seem hard to control demand, consider offering incentives that help to optimize your customers’ ordering behavior. Offer a discount to customers who order early, before the last minute holiday rush. Or, offer an incentive to holiday-season orders that aren’t holiday related; for a percentage off, a waived fee or free shipping, a customer who doesn’t require delivery before the holidays might be willing to accept January delivery, which both helps you open up your printing calendar for late orders and fill your post-holiday calendar, when business is generally slower.

Keep it personal

Don’t let your screen printing business get lost in the noise of the holiday rush. Every retailer is offering discounts and rushing to fill orders, and customers often shuffle from one business to the next, without paying much notice. It can be hard to break through the noise of the holidays and make an impact on your customers that keeps them coming back. The best way to do this is by adding a personal touch. Focus on customer service basics. Go above and beyond by including a special, personalized gift with an order. Something as simple as a handful of holiday chocolates included in the shipping box can stand out to customers. Take the time to reach out to your best customers, even if they’re not placing a holiday order. Take the time to send them a holiday card or small holiday gift — like a calendar, coffee mug or scarf — personalized with their company logo. Any personal touch will send the message to customers that their business is important to you, and they’ll be more likely to return to your screen printing shop the next time they are in the market for personalized goods.

Despite its many challenges, the rush of the holidays can bring great benefits to your screen printing business in terms of profit and in terms of reaching new customers. By coming up with a plan — complete with deadlines, turnaround projections, customer outreach and possibly incentives — and offering great customer service, you can not only survive the holiday season in your screen printing business but use the holiday rush to help your business thrive.

Holiday rush over? Check out these tips for getting through the slow season:

6 Strategies for Surviving the Screen Printing Slow Season