Before you shutdown – make a list and check it twice!

Closed for ChristmasFor many small businesses, December can be one of the busiest times of the year because of the Holidays.  It seems like everyone is in a hurry to get things done or to be somewhere and sometimes things plain get a bit crazy. 
Why not do something special for your clients, customers and staff to help “slow” things down a bit and add some festive cheer?

Here are a couple of ideas to get into the festive spirit (aside from playing carols!)…

  • If you can, consider champagne instead of tea and coffee, or maybe some more “festive” blends of tea.
  • Have staff take turns bringing in home baked cookies or treats for customers (or staff) to snack on.
  • Place a tray of candy canes, chocolates or other holiday candies on the counter.
  • Give away a nice tree decoration to each of your clients – or allow them to choose one from a basket.
  • Have “secret santa” gift exchange with your staff.  For some real fun, give it a theme.
  • Do a holiday prize for your customers with a gift certificate that they can use next year.  This is also a great way to collect addresses and emails.

And when all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas and holiday season is over, many of you will be ready to take a break and take advantage of the summer weather (apologies to those that will be working through!). 

Pre-Christmas Checklist

Before you shut up shop, here's a checklist to help make sure that you head out on your holiday without a hitch.

Firstly, make sure you take time recognise the members of your team.  Let them know how much you appreciate them and acknowledge their contributions.  Even something as simple as taking them out to lunch or going out for a drink lets them know that you care. 

If you are going to be closing your business for any time off, it is important to let your customers know.  If you have emails or addresses of your regular customers, send out an online newsletter or have a simple card done up – thank them for their patronage and give them a heads up about any changes in your normal operating hours.  Make sure you update your voice message with clear details about when you will be away and when you will be back.  Prepare an out-of-office email response and yes, put a sign in the window too.

If your business is cutting back to a skeleton staff, prepare a roster clearly outlining who is rostered on and who will be unavailable. It's also a great idea to prepare a list of tasks to be completed during the quiet times. By being organised, you can help to prevent important things from falling through the cracks and even use any quiet time to get some more things done.

If you are going on holiday right after Christmas and New Year’s Eve, take the time to put away the festive decorations before you leave.  This is especially important if you run a store-front business that is in plain view of people walking or driving by – it’s definitely tacky to have a Christmas tree still up in February!  Plus, there is nothing worse than coming home from vacation to a bunch of decorations that need to be taken down before you can get back to work.

While the purpose of going on holiday is to get away from your business for a while, there are few things that you should do – and that won’t take too much time from your rest and relaxation.  Bring a list with you of the names and addresses of your top customers, vendors, employees and anyone else who has made a difference to your business the past year.  Pick up some thank you cards or if go away on holiday, maybe some of those “touristy” post cards, and send out hand-written notes of appreciation. 

Another good thing to do while you are away from the day-to-day operations of your business is to take time to reflect on the past year.  What went well?  What could have gone better?  What things will you do differently?

Enjoy your well earned holiday and come back with plans on how you will make 2014 a year full of success and growth for your business!


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