One of the biggest events in Iowa is coming to my town this summer – The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). This event brings in hundreds of thousands of people into small communities across the state. As we prepare our business for this event, I wanted to share how you too can prepare your business for any large inflow of customers and leave a lasting impression.

Staff  & Customer Service:

The first thing to do is meet with your staff. A staff that is included in the planning process will work harder for the success of the business.

After you have determined the amount of staff needed to work each event, start scheduling their hours today. Be sure to account for situations with staff that cannot be foreseen, so you don’t end up understaffed. It may be a good idea to hire temporary employees, if your budget allows.

This is also the time to talk about customer service with your employees. It is imperative that your business put its best foot forward with customer service during this time, as friendly local service reflects on the entire community. Be sure you are allowing your staff proper breaks, a variety of work, and rewarding incentives to keep them from getting board, tired, and over-worked. Happy employees will provide great customer service for your business.

Appearance

Have you been needing to apply a new coat of paint, deep clean, or fix that outside light? Take this opportunity to make a great impression on your communities’ guests by tackling those lingering projects in the coming weeks.

Supply & Financials

Two weeks before a big event is not the time to try to come up with the money to stock the shelves of your business and pay additional staff, nor is it the time to take your distributor by surprise by ordering a large amount of items that they are unable to fulfill. You will need to plan to supply your business with a larger amount of inventory than normal. Start getting creative today with supplies and financial planning. Some businesses will slowly add to their inventory each week by adding a few extra items with each shipment. If your business stocks perishable items, you can apply the same concept by slowly setting aside the money to order the items closer to time and communicating with your distributor, the needs of your business for a big event.

How much do you prepare for? Prepare for the best-case scenario… I calculated the amount of items we could physically make going non-stop around the clock. For example. We can Make 2 lattes and one cold drink at a time with our equipment and 3 staff members. The time into this would be about 2 minutes. I divided the time that we would be open by two minutes then times 3 drinks and came up with a total amount of drinks to prepare for.

Your Website, Google, & Yelp

No better time than the present to beef up your online presence.

Check your website to be sure it is updated with current address, hours, & phone numbers. New guests will be unfamiliar with your community’s layout. They will turn to their phones and the internet to help guide them toward what they are looking for.

Take a moment and ask Siri “Take me to the closest (insert your business type)” Where does google maps direct you to? If it is your business, your right on track. If not it’s time to do some work. Use this guide to help. If your business does show up, check the map to make sure it is pointing to the right location.

Yelp is a mobile app being used all over the country as a business directory to help customers find what they are looking for based on location and rating. Get on Yelp here. Yelp and Google are both free services that increases your business’ exposure.

Now you have stocked your supplies, hired staff, and got your brick and mortar location in tip-top shape. Best of luck to you.