Q4 in business refers to the financial year’s last quarter (or “quarter 4”). For many small businesses, the fourth quarter is the most profitable time of the year. That’s the case, according to one-third of those polled in a Kabbage by American Express survey.
When is Q4 exactly? For most companies, the Q4 months include Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. Keep in mind there are 4 quarters each year, each spanning 3 months.
Now that you know when Q4 starts and Q4’s meaning in business, review our list of end-of-year business tips to prepare your Q4 strategy for success.
1. Examine Past Performance
One of the first things you can do to prepare your Q4 strategy is to look at the performance of previous fourth quarters. It’s also important to review your performance over the year on a monthly and quarterly basis and examine past years’ performances. See where you stand regarding common key performance indicators in business, such as gross profit margin and sales growth.
2. Review Sales Strategies
Taking a good, hard look at your Q4 sales strategies is another way to prepare to finish the year strong. Analyze where you stand concerning achieving your yearly goals as a group and as individuals and strategize how your Q4 efforts can get you there.
For example, talk to your sales team and ensure the focus is on connecting with top leads in their pipelines. They should make it a point to reach out to their prime prospects at the start of Q4 and lay the foundation for a close. If salespeople realize they are behind on their goals, they should reach out to a manager who can assist with sales barriers.
Additionally, any outstanding sales transactions should be processed.
3. Check Your Ability to Meet Demand
If your business experiences high demand during the holidays, you’ll want to ensure you have sufficient products or service capabilities to accommodate the increase in sales you’re projecting. This could mean ordering extra inventory stock and ensuring timely delivery. It could also involve making sure you have enough people on hand (and payroll hours) to meet demand.
4. Assess Marketing Needs
Q4 is also a prime holiday season. As such, consider running a holiday campaign. Do some research to see which marketing channels have historically offered the best return on investment compared to channels used in previous fourth quarters.
Additionally, interview your sales team and determine if they could benefit from supportive marketing collateral. Helpful sales aids, such as those designed to overcome common objections or educate customers, could help the team close more deals and finish the year strong.
5. Inspect Your Website
According to company rating platform GoodFirms, some of the top reasons visitors leave a website are slow loading speeds, lack of adaptability across devices, poor navigation and outdated design. So, not surprisingly, improving the functionality and visual appeal of your site could increase the number of visitors to your site, the length of time they stay on the site and the number of purchases you earn as a result.
Some aspects of reviewing as you enter Q4 in your business include:
- Make sure contact information and other key company details are up to date, such as business hours
- Review page loading times (ideally, pages shouldn’t take longer than 3 seconds to load)
- Check your on-page search engine optimization, including keywords, titles and image descriptions
- Check for mobile-friendliness
- Consider including holiday content
6. Set Goals and Expectations
In addition to year-end quarterly goals, set monthly goals to ensure you’re on track to make your Q4 targets. Hold a group meeting at the start of the quarter to communicate goals with your entire team including strategies they can use to get there. Also, meet with employees one-on-one and consider assigning individual goals as well. To encourage and motivate staff, think about holding contests throughout the quarter.
7. Be Financially Prepared
How to prepare for Q4 also involves careful financial planning. You’ll want to review your profit-and-loss statements to determine if you’re on track with revenue and profit goals.
You need to make sure your business has enough cash flow to manage expenses and investments you need to make to ensure a successful quarter (e.g., inventory purchases, marketing, payroll). Also, think about cutting costs to improve your cash flow.
See if you could benefit from business financing to help you meet your goals too. For instance, it could behoove you to apply for a small business line of credit, which you can access when and if you need it (or leave it alone if you don’t).
8. Incentivize Employees to Finish the Year Strong
According to an Indeed survey of business leaders, 87% agreed that prioritizing employee happiness offers an edge over the competition. So why not entice your team by offering incentives they’ll appreciate? It can lift their spirits and make them more eager to end the year on a high note.
Some examples of ways you can bring a smile to your employees’ faces include:
- End-of-year bonuses
- Thank-you gift cards or gifts
- Company discounts
- Workplace celebration
- Catered lunches
- Matching donation to employees’ nonprofit of choice
9. Improve the Customer Experience
Another Q4 sales strategy is to think about ways you can improve the customer experience. After all, many customers are willing to spend more money for a great experience. Additionally, almost three-quarters of those surveyed agreed customer experience is an important factor in their purchasing decisions, according to PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers).
One way to ensure a good buying experience is to offer multiple payment options besides cash or credit cards, such as Venmo, PayPal or interest-free buy now, pay later apps (e.g., Klarna, Affirm). Also, consider offering buy online, pick up in store options to compete with ecommerce brands too.
If you operate a brick-and-mortar store, think about ways to keep your customers in your store longer and purchasing more. Also, consider what advantage you have as an in-person retailer vs. an online retailer and capitalize on that (e.g., focus on merchandising, sensory experiences).
10. Thank Your Customers
Another end-of-year business tip is to thank your customers. After all, customer-centric companies earn 60% more in profit, according to HubSpot. (Bonus: They make great word-of-mouth referrals too.)
Send thank-you cards with notes of gratitude. In addition, consider offering your patrons a special customer appreciation discount or promotional offer that will expire before the end of the year.
Another idea is to host a customer event, whether a VIP shopping day or a customer holiday party. Of course, ultimately, this is to show your appreciation. However, such events also encourage your clientele to come back and shop with you, preferably sooner rather than later, so you can finish the year strong and achieve Q4 success.