Successfully preparing your small business for the holiday season involves finding a balance between staff engagement, fun events and activities, while ensuring your business is in the best possible place to start the New Year.
Here’s how you can structure the holiday period to optimise your finances and keep your staff and customers happy.
1. Communicating your closure dates
Your business may have closures and limited hours throughout the holiday season. Making sure your customers, vendors, and stakeholders are aware of business downtime will help prevent confusion and ensure those who need something from you are able to reach out well in advance.
Depending on your business, you may want to consider:
- Digital notices such as email reminders, social media posts, or a note on your website
- Add your seasonal hours to your invoices or holiday greetings cards for a personal touch
- If you have a brick and mortar presence, display your hours on a poster or board
- Turn on your email auto-response and include business operating hours
- Update your automated attendant message on your phone system
Don’t forget to notify security personnel and make sure they have an updated emergency contact list. They should know who to contact in the event of a security issue, and also who is authorised to be in the building over the break.
2. Getting your outstanding invoices paid
It can be difficult to catch up on invoices during the busy season, so start early if you have customers who routinely pay at the last minute. Ensure their invoices are sent out as soon as possible.
Here is a suggested timeline for following up on invoices:
- One week prior – Reminder the invoice due date is approaching
- On due date – Reminder the invoice is now due
- Two weeks overdue – A polite follow-up in the event of an oversight
- Three weeks overdue – A phone call in which you agree on a fixed payment date
In the event that payment is not received by the agreed date, a final email or letter should be sent to notify them of the transfer of the matter to your lawyers, or debt collection agency.
If your business isn’t leveraging it already, you may want to implement digital invoicing to your accounts receivable process. Most small business accounting software providers have already added e-invoicing to their services enabling customers to pay their invoices with the click of a button.
3. Backup your servers and turn off equipment
Your office may be empty for a few weeks over the holidays, so protecting your data and hardware is imperative to prevent any disasters. Schedule your IT team or consultants in advance to list vital systems and prepare your servers for backup.
It’s recommended that businesses engage in triple redundancy, meaning data is located in three places: the working copy and two backups. One of these should be stored in the cloud and/or an offsite location.
Remind employees to turn off their computers to save on power that’s used when devices are on standby mode, and unplug larger devices like printers or photocopiers. With the lights off, conduct a visual inspection and see what’s still glowing. If it has an LED light (like a microwave or toaster), it’s using energy.
It’s important to review the correct shutdown procedures for your IT equipment. Systems that run 24/7 for most of the year generate a lot of heat. The expansion and contraction of delicate IT equipment can cause malfunctions.
4. Get office-ready for the New Year
Preparing the office for the New Year should be a priority for business owners before shutting things down. Being halfway through the fiscal year, businesses should have a more accurate forecast of their expenses, presenting the opportunity to invest in updated equipment for the New Year.
If you’re in the market for a new business vehicle, the cost of cars often drop when the next year’s model is due to be released. Dealerships usually offer end-of-year specials as they clear space for the next model. It’s a great time of year to take advantage of potential savings.
For similar reasons, it’s also a good time for technology purchases. End-of-year sales can lead to substantial savings, particularly if you’re upgrading your office’s computer equipment.
The holidays should be a fun, festive and stress-free season for everyone, including business owners. By planning your end of year practices now, you can ensure you’re in the best position to kick-start the New Year. Your broker is available to help answer tax and financing questions, so you can start your business on the right foot for 2022.