7 top tips for making the most of Christmas trade

For caterers, market traders and craft businesses, November and December can be the busiest months of the year.

With markets and fairs aplenty, the opportunity for an extra earner just before Christmas is out there if you want it.

Whether it’s a German market in Leeds or a craft show in London, you’ll want to make the most of this time of year. With that in mind, here are our top seven tips for seasonal success:

1. Stock up

Ordering more stock than usual can be risky, and there’s not a trader in the world who hasn’t got it wrong at some stage.

Depending on the market or fair that you’re working, however, you should tailor your offering accordingly. If it’s a Christmas-themed affair, play to it, and order more of the stock that you know will be successful on the day.

2. Consider additional staff

Given that you’ll be busier than usual (fingers crossed!) you should consider adding additional staff temporarily.

Slow service and a long queue can be a real turn-off for browsers - an extra pair of hands could be essential.

Keep in mind that if you do add an extra staff member - even temporarily - you’ll need to cover them with employers’ liability insurance.

3. Do your research

Picking the right events is crucial, but it can be tricky. In an ideal world, you’ll want a market reasonably nearby, but be prepared to travel for the right event.

Consider which type of market or fair you’re after, trawl the internet and ask any contacts you’ve built up over the years.

It can take time to find the right event, and even then you might not be successful in your application. Making sure you’ve got the basics is a good way of showing event organisers that you’re a serious trader. Food hygiene certificates, health and safety certificates and public liability insurance are all likely to be needed, depending on your business.

4. Scope the competition

When you’re new to a market - be it daily, weekly, or over a prolonged period - one of your first priorities should be to check out the competition.

First and foremost, it’s important that you’re competitive on prices. Customers are shrewd and won’t want to pay over the odds, especially if there’s little difference in quality.

It’s also worth keeping an eye out for any products that seem particularly popular and consider ordering a small batch to test the waters.

5. Prepare for the rush

When it comes down to it, you want to be serving customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Taking a bit of time to work out processes beforehand could minimise the risk of disaster when the punters start flooding in.

Investing in a good till - and taking the time to train all members of staff on how to use it - is essential.

Similarly, consider whether a card machine is worth your while. Although it can create extra paperwork, it could prove worth the hassle - along with being faster than cash in most instances, it can also be used as a way to attract people to your stall or catering van.

6. Make sure you’re covered

In many instances, organisers will require you to have public liability cover before letting you on site. But it doesn’t end there: stock cover, product liability insurance and business equipment insurance, to name a few, could also be vitally important depending on your business.

Keep in mind that with increased footfall comes increased risk, so even if you’ve decided against insurance throughout the year, it could be time to reconsider.

7. Enjoy it!

‘Tis the season after all, right? Working longer hours in the build up to Christmas can be tough, but it’ll get a lot harder if you don’t enjoy it.

Running a business can be tricky at the best of times, and finding a way of working that suits you is vital.

So relish the busy moments, and rest when it’s quieter - but above all, enjoy it!

Have you got any other tips for making the most of the Christmas season? Let us know below.

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