This month retailers are focusing on holiday and year-end sales. While holiday spending predictions are uncertain at best, you still can help your retail clients take steps to bolster volume and revenue per capita.  

The key to a successful December in retail is to have an established plan complete with daily goals and targets. In particular, advise your retailers to consider the following to enjoy a successful 2009 holiday season:

1. Use sales numbers from past holiday seasons as a milestone to create a plan based on specific sales, volume and net income goals. You have likely offered this report after each holiday season, but give them last year’s report again, with a gentle reminder that keeping those specific numbers in mind will help them to set realistic goals.

2. Advise them to share daily and weekly performance goals with all staff and provide incentives and rewards for achieving those goals. Your clients may need a gentle push to include their employees in the process of setting sales goals.

3. Help your clients compare sales performance goals to actual performance on a daily and weekly basis and encourage them to review the results with employees. You probably don’t usually offer daily or weekly reports – but in December, you should be more frequent and detailed in your communication with retail clients.

4. Help retailers determine sound accounting policies for promotions that will increase store volume and revenue per customer. Free offers such as free shipping, gift wrapping, gift with $100 purchase and complementary product packages can have a big impact on sales, and a small impact on the books if they are planned right.

5. Encourage your clients to promote their gift card program. Estimates indicate more than 10 percent of holiday sales will be for gift cards. More and more retailers are offering gift cards because they promote their specific brand, and commonly result in increased revenues when the consumer wants to avoid leaving a balance on the card. Furthermore, gift cards are redeemed after the holidays, smoothing sales away from the busiest shopping days.

As a bookkeeper and CPA, you can greatly help your clients by ensuring they know and understand their accounting numbers from the previous two seasons to set those milestone goals of finishing strong in 2009. Then, by helping them track and compare daily/weekly figures through the end of the year, will ensure they stay on top of their objectives for a successful holiday season.

Allen Bostrom is the chief executive of Universal Accounting and an expert in business management. He is the author of In the Black, and Red to Black in 30 Days.