Advice on business planning for 2017

The first quarter of any year is the most important for planning. Valerie Delforge outlines the 10 priorities in Q1 that will set your business up for a successful 2017.

The first quarter of the year is when you need to think strategically and focus a lot of your energy on the job of generating more revenue. This isn’t something that can be left until the last minute, it needs planning. It’s very difficult to start the year this way because we’re usually tired in January from the energy the last quarter demanded. However, if you start the year strong and focused, you will set the tone and generate enthusiasm throughout your team.

10 dos and don’ts for Q1

1. Plan ahead
Do prepare your marketing strategy for the year: be thorough and include your digital communication. A strong marketing strategy is the heart of your business and will bring you new customers as well as keeping your exisiting clientele.

Don’t leave your business strategy to the last minute: chances are it will not happen and you will not be as efficient as you could have been. Try to work three months in advance and don’t be afraid to delegate where you can.

2. Maximise retail
Do make it a priority to work on your retail strategy. If you want to retail more, you will. Think of everything you can do to achieve better figures.

Don’t rely only on the brands you use. They offer great support but it is not enough for your retail to come alive and increase your revenue year on year.

3. Invest in training
Do focus on your yearly training plan. This way you know what you want to happen, the team feel you are putting their development first and you’re able to budget the training from the start. If you work alone, plan training for yourself to increase your revenue.

Don’t assume the reception team are fine left as they are. They’re the ones having to deal with stress from all angles at the same time as generating cross-selling, up-selling and rebookings. Quarterly training will support them and keep them focused.

4. Get a work-life balance
Do think of your wellness: time management is the key to creating a balance in whatever you do. Manage your time efficiently by creating a detailed plan of action. Consider time management as your engine and give yourself “me time” to stay sane.

Don’t procrastinate. We’re usually shattered in January and it can be overwhelming. It is the easiest month to let fly by as so much is happening. By the time you know it, it’s February and you’re still not prepared. Throughout all my years in business I’ve never taken time off in January until all my strategy was finalised. The same goes for my management team.

5. Focus on the people
Do review your database. This is one of the most important aspects of your Q1. Look at your lapsed customers, incentivise them to come back but if they don’t then cease to give them any more or your time. Look at your clientele and find out what will capture their attention. Why not send a survey?

Don’t look busy all the time: your team need to feel that they can approach you. Consider an open-door policy at certain times of the day. Be clear as to when you will be in or out of the business as this makes staff feel more secure.

6. Measure success
Do monitor the impact of every activity you organise. This way you will know what has worked each year and whether or not to repeat it.

Don’t assume, have a spreadsheet so you can remember. Don’t think you’re alone. The first quarter is usually the most important for delegating, networking or finding a mentor to support you on that journey. It is when you need support most.

7. Diarise your commitments
Do plan meetings with your team for the year ahead. Whether they are individual or team meetings they are vital for helping to realise your vision by getting everyone on the same page. If they’re in the diary they will happen. If someone goes on holiday you can reschedule.

Don’t leave recruitment to the last minute. Give yourself a minimum of one day (and ideally two days) per month for recruitment. Constantly search for that hidden pearl. Keep in touch with colleges. Recruitment is such an issue in our industry that you should be making time for it.

8. Motivate your team
Do generate a yearly, quarterly and monthly incentive for each individual team member. If they know the prize is within reach, they are more likely to go for it.

Don’t forget to book your team building-days for the year. They can be costly so book them early and look at alternatives to create a buzz and motivate staff.

9. Take digital seriously
Do focus on building your online audience by setting a digital strategy in January. On social media, post daily or stop using the platform.

Don’t create unrealistic plans for the year. Don’t dwell on what you haven’t achieved but think of what you have. Set no more than two priorities a day so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

10. Build your brand
Do understand your brand values by creating a picture board with everything you represent. Get your staff involved; the more visual you are, the more they will buy into your brand. Think about logo, font and images.

Don’t have too many messages as this kills the original message: think educational, promotional and informative at all times. This can be true for retail, treatments or your brand. The same goes for what you want to tell your team.

It’s important you create your vision for 2017 and make it clear to your team. The more you plan, the more you will succeed. Think of the three Ps: plan, prepare, present. If you adopt this for everything you do, you will feel less overwhelmed and more proactive. You will also communicate better to those around you throughout the year and create a successful 2017.

Valerie Delforge is a spa and salon business consultant and recently launched the ME tiME management programme to help managers to focus and reach their goals. Her previous roles included head of spa operations for Steiner and general manager of L’Occitane UK.