A checklist for your annual December holiday shutdown

Don't leave for the beach before you do the following


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If you’re the owner or manager of a SMEs outside the retail and hospitality industries, you’re probably looking forward to the annual break.  

Here’s a checklist of some of the important things to do before you shut down for the December holidays. 

1. Let your customers know when you’ll be away
Don’t assume that your customers will know when you’ll be closed – send them an email or a text message notifying them about the dates of your holiday shutdown. If relevant, let them know who on your team will be available to help them in case of emergency. If you are an e-commerce business, make sure someone is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the online store. 

Brief your team before you send out any customer communications to ensure they are able to plan for the season as well as answer customers’ questions about the holiday shutdown. 

2. Arrange the skeleton crew
December is a popular time for employees to take leave – it is summer, the kids have long school holidays, and the office is usually quiet. While it may suit you to have most employees take their leave during the holiday slowdown, you should also make sure you are not short-staffed.

Ensure there are enough people around to attend to urgent customer requests, answer the phones, look after social media and keep an eye on the business.  If you do have a skeleton crew running the show during this time, it might be a great idea to award them with a day of bonus leave or a small gift to show your appreciation.

3. Get ready for the New Year
When you get back to work in January, it’s generally a rat race to first meetings, wrapping up key projects from the previous year, or catching up with admin. Ensure that you have a dedicated person to handle admin duties while you work on important tasks like business development. You may also be inundated with requests for loans and advances from employees who are broke after the December holidays. Prepare to answer these requests with a standard policy, whether you are able to help or not.

Remember, January can be as tight a month for your business as it is for your team because you will find yourself waiting for some payments. Be sure to contact people and businesses who owe you money to confirm when they will pay. If you expect a seasonal cash flow crunch, prepare for it by speaking to your bank about an overdraft.

4. Work from the beach
Rather than poring over a spreadsheet this holiday, you could do most of your numbers with a mouse click or screen swipe, and spend the rest of the holiday season at the pool. As the global and technology market leader of integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, we give business builders solutions that enable them to control their businesses from the palm of their hand so they can stay in control from a smartphone wherever they are – even the beach.

5. Start the New Year with a bang
Long standing customers will appreciate a New Year mailer to get them excited for opening specials when you are back in business to kick start the New Year. This could be an opportunity to rid the business of old stock that didn’t sell during the holidays. Opening sales are very popular and if you want to attract new business, this could be one of the ways.

About the author: Anton van Heerden is Executive Vice-President, Africa & Middle East at Sage. 

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