Cancel Christmas

It won’t be long until we begin to see signs of December’s approach. From the crass to the sublime, there will be zero chance of anyone forgetting the festive frenzy that Christmas brings.

Christmas invariably brings with it reports and interviews with earnest retailers who fret they may not make their year if sales are soft. Wow. The bulk of sales in just two months. That’s got to be some pressure.

With that kind of pressure, how much focus is truly available for the operation of the business? Customer service? Planning? Shrinkage (not the Seinfeld kind)? HR?

As we get closer to the religious holiday whose name cannot be spoken, perhaps we can explore the balance of the Turkey-to-Gravy ratio or T:R. For businesses who rely on two magic months to make the year, that’s a LOT of turkey in one sitting. Someone is going to choke. Plus, with a turkey that size, how can we keep the skin from burning or drying out while making sure we’ve cooked it through? How many people do we need to cook this ginormous turkey? How much training and supervision will be required? With all this mayhem, there might not be a lot of time to focus on the gravy – the part of the business that’s profitable, the fun part, the growth part. The part that demonstrates that while anyone can cook a turkey, this business knows how to enjoy one.

What if we take a step back and imagine there was no holiday season? Is there still a business plan for these retailers? Visualize the landscape if this kind of business had to make the month every month and not rely on Christmas or a lucky trip to Vegas to fill in the year. What would have to be done differently to prevent failure? Without the societal pressure to buy someone something just for the sake of it, the importance of positioning and relevance reveals itself.

Check the business plan and cash flow forecasts. Check the margins. Check the turkey. We don’t need to be retailers to apply this thinking – look at the areas that make up the bulk of revenue in your enterprise – that’s the turkey. So, where are the opportunities to make gravy? How can the valleys between the peaks of the sales cycle be filled in? What’s being left on the table?

This is your summer assignment: Explore what your relevance in the marketplace might be without your single largest sales bubble, your largest client or any other factor that is your Christmas. What would you do differently if you could not count on it? Where is your gravy?

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