It’s the festive season and many businesses find this time of year busy. But, peak time for one business is another’s down time. Depending on your business and your industry, you might be trying to decide whether to gear up or down for the season.
Typically it is boom time for businesses in the hospitality, retail, leisure and restaurant industries. However, even if you operate a business in one of these industries, you must be realistic about how many extra sales you will make to warrant operating longer and on public holidays.
On the flip side, companies outside of these industries find it is not financially viable to stay open over the Christmas and New Year periods. If you are one of them, you are probably looking forward to the down time over the festive season.
What to do if you are gearing down…
Let your customers know
Remember to communicate your yearend closure times to your clients as well as your suppliers. Do this in advance via direct emailers and on your social media channels. A reminder on the day that you close is also recommended. If there will be someone available in case of an emergency, share their contact details with your customers.
Get your invoices in early
Your business is certainly not the only one that is closing for the holidays. Your customers might very well be closing too. Remember to submit your invoices early to ensure timely payment before they do.
Show your gratitude
The business landscape is constantly changing along with economic ups and downs. You must guard and nurture your customers to retain their loyalty. They are the lifeblood of your business and your suppliers help you deliver your products and services to them. Remember to thank them for their business with thoughtful gifts, cards or messages.
Be prepared for the January crunch
January can be tight financially as business can be slow. Be prepared by contacting people and businesses who owe you money to confirm when they will pay. If you expect a seasonal cash flow crunch, make provisions for this. Speak to your bank about an overdraft if you have to.
Catch up on admin
Use the quiet time to sort through your paperwork, file what you need to keep and get rid of what you don’t need. Get your books and accounts in order too.
Do some housekeeping
While your premises is quiet, do some housekeeping such as cleaning carpets and windows, servicing printers and other equipment, replace expired light bulbs, and throw out what you no longer need.
Set up an automated response email and a voice message on your business line in case someone contacts you during this time. Advise your closure times and when you will reopen and who to contact in an emergency. Stay connected with your clients and suppliers on your social media channels.
Revisit your business plan. Are you still on track? Are you achieving what you set out to achieve? Are your business goals aligned with your personal goals? Have you lost sight of these? If not, use the quiet time to strategise and redefine your goals for the New Year.
Regain your balance
Remember that one of the purposes of the yearend closure is to give you and your staff some downtime. It will be the New Year before you know it and you will be back at the grindstone. Take a few days to completely relax, rewind and recharge. Go away on holiday if possible and use your free time to do what you love whether it is reading a good book or spending quality time with your family.
What to do if you are gearing up …
Tell your customers you are open
Let your customers and suppliers know that you are open over the festive season. Advise your customers of your opening and closing times, your extended operating hours and if you will be open on public holidays. Use emails, social media, adverts and posters to spread the word.
Your suppliers might be closing for the holidays. Check their shutdown dates and make sure to place your orders in time so that you have enough stock to carry you through.
Get some back up
If your suppliers are closing down, find out if they have someone on hand in case of emergencies or source another supplier that can deliver the services you need over the holidays. Air conditioners, electrical and IT equipment can go down when you least expect it.
Lineup your support
If some of your team will be taking leave or if you need additional staff to cope with the boom or work on public holidays, lineup casual, contract or freelance workers to fill the gaps.
Make provision for wages
Working on public holidays attracts penalty rates for employees. If you are considering extended operating ours, you will need to make provisions for this. Business owners in certain sectors in the State of Queensland have to pay full- and part-time staff 225% of the ordinary rate on public holidays and casual workers 250% loading on their standard hourly rate. These include the restaurant, hospitality, pharmaceutical, retail and fast food sectors. https://www.smartcompany.com.au/people-human-resources/hours-penalty-rates-2019-australia-day-public-holiday/
Say thank you
As we have already said, customers are the lifeblood of your business and your suppliers are an incredible. Remember to thank them for their business with thoughtful gifts, cards or messages.
Show your staff some appreciation
Working through the holidays is not everyone’s idea of fun so maintaining morale and productivity among skeleton teams can be tricky, especially when their friends and family are on holiday. Small tokens of appreciation go a long way to keeping them engaged.
Embrace the season
So you are hard at work and it is the holidays. Focus on the good things about it and embrace the season. Decorate your premises and do what you can to make the days festive. Come up with some festive promotions or gimmicks for your customers.
Watch your cash flow
Use your small business accounting software to get a snapshot of what your regular cash flow cycle looks like. Use this information to make important decisions during the holiday period. Delay unnecessary spending just in case.
What if you are not sure?
Your ActionCOACH will help you understand your market, your industry and your potential customers in order to make informed decisions about your business over the festive season.
A cash flow projection will help to determine whether or not you can afford to stay open or if it is better to close. You will need to work out the break even figures and revenue expectations to get a clear picture
of whether you can afford either of these scenarios. Your business coach can help you with these calculations.