Is Your Small Biz Ready for Back to School Days?

512px-Inside_a_classroom_of_a_school_in_KabulBack to school promotions are well underway – Is your business participating? – and there are a variety of ways small business can benefit from this yearly phenomenon.

The July through September retail season, which includes the back-to-school period, is second only to the Christmas shopping season in terms of retail sales and it’s replete with just about as many promotions and mark downs. And many states toss in something retailers can only dream about for the Christmas season: Tax-free days.

Analysts, by the way, expect sales this year to be okay but not extraordinary.

Many states carve out a weekend or other short period of time when they forgo the collection of sales tax. This can mean nearly an extra 10 percent off in some areas. Add that to the back-to-school sales prices and it adds up.

Stock up your supply cabinet

If you study the products closely, you’ll note that office supplies and school supplies are generally quite similar. This can be the perfect time to stock up. Further, many states with tax-free days include computer purchases in the windfall. Give it some thought.

On the other side of the ledger, if you’re a retailer, you should be able to find some way you can work the “back-to-school” theme into your promotions at this time of year. I’d like to carry this idea a little further. If you can bring students into your store during this season, beyond making a sale, you have the opportunity to build a relationship.

In the not-too-distant future, the students you’re selling clothes, school supplies or electronics to today, will have families of their own. How do you estimate the lifetime value of a customer? What is your cost of acquiring a new customer?

If you play your back-to-school cards right, you’ll create a lifetime loyal customer in his or her youth and you’ll have a good chance at snagging the next generation as well.

Make an educational donation

If you don’t sell a product or have a service that relates directly to students, you can still tie into this season. For example, an oil-change service could donate $2 to a local school or educational service for every lube job. This gives you a way to pull in customers and also raise your image in the local community.

Honestly, I love this time of year. While so many things seem to change in our society, the back-to-school season is a cultural rock. Kids are filled with the competing emotions of watching the carefree days of summer sadly disappear while at the same time they’re excited about seeing old friends and meeting new challenges at school.

School days, school days, the dear old Golden Rule days…

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Image: By Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones (U.S. Armed Forces) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons