12 days of Christmas planning for your business
Whilst many business owners shudder at the thought of Christmas approaching and some of the challenges it presents, when it comes to business planning it’s never too early to start thinking about the festive season.
Here are 12 things to consider to help you protect and prepare your business for the festive period.
1. Plan for the unexpected
Planning for the unexpected is good practice at all times, but with business often slowing down, staff taking holidays and many offices closing, December in particular can bring unexpected challenges. From adverse weather to power supply issues, there are some larger factors which can have a major impact on businesses, so ensure your continuity and disaster recovery plans are as up to date as possible and key stakeholders aware.
But don’t forget the smaller issues that also need consideration, such as the implications of operating a skeleton staff. With careful preparation your business will be able to operate seamlessly under all circumstances with a limited impact on your company.
2. Consider the impact of the weather
As temperatures fall, the question occupying the minds of business owners isn’t whether Christmas will be white, but rather will the weather impact my business? As we’ve seen in several years gone by weather is unpredictable and can heavily impact business operations, from flooding to transport network disruption. With careful planning, you can put provisions and back-up plans in place to limit the damage.
It’s worth considering what impact delays to supplies and distribution would have and how you can mitigate against this, as well as what would happen if your offices had to close in the event of flooding, heavy snowfall or frozen pipes, for instance. Remember that response times will likely be reduced over the festive period so factor this in.
3. Touch base with your customers
The festive period presents a good opportunity to get in touch with customers. Whether you’re running any parties or events or you send out Christmas cards, reminding them how important they are will make them feel valued and increase customer loyalty.
Consider whether you’d like to use the opportunity to remind customers of your services or perhaps run a special offer to encourage repeat business. Don’t forget to contact those you might not have worked with in a while.
4. Opt for email over post
With the postal service coming under a lot of pressure in December, delivery times can be stretched. So, where possible, opt for email over post.
This is particularly important when it comes to invoicing, as any delays or lost letters give your customers an excuse to delay payment which can impact your cash flow. If you don’t currently invoice electronically, consider making it a part of your processes for the New Year as it’s a great way to reduce payment times.
5. Consider your cash flow
Many businesses find their finances can become stretched over the festive period, so find the time to take a look at your cash flow forecasts to understand your current and upcoming cash flow position.
If you anticipate a shortfall or would benefit from a bigger cushion for peace of mind, consider the finance options which are available to your business.
As an independent commercial finance broker, we can introduce your business to the most suitable options and lenders for your requirements, giving you all the information you need to make an informed decision. To discover what’s available to your business currently, contact our team of funding experts on 0800 9774833 or request a call back.
6. Schedule payments
Consider, too, the invoices you’ll need to pay during the Christmas period. With lots to do and staff often taking holiday, it’s not uncommon for businesses to miss or forget about money they owe.
The last thing you want is to start the New Year faced with final demand letters and late payment charges, so make sure you set up and authorise payments for all of your due bills.
7. Take action on late payments
Nobody wants to spend the start of a New Year calling customers to demand payment for overdue invoices, so now is a good time to take action on late payments.
Review your sales ledger to identify the customers whose invoices will fall due during the Christmas period and contact them to ensure provisions are in place. Then look at any overdue invoices and make a concerted effort to recover payment as you don’t want to wait until the New Year to do this.
Where particular invoices are creating a bit of a headache or your internal resources are likely to be stretched over the festive period, using a specialist debt collection agency could be a wise move, both in terms of getting paid faster and to access vital resource.
8. Spread Christmas cheer
If you are staying open over the Christmas period, it can be beneficial to spread some Christmas cheer amongst your employees to keep productivity levels up – especially if your staff are working from home.
Office decorations can give workers a boost, as can arranging catch-ups, quizzes or games over Teams or Zoom, for instance.
9. Reflect on your efforts
The year end provides a good opportunity to reflect on how business has been over the last 12 months. Review your performance and analyse the challenges you’ve faced. What worked well for your business? What could you have done better?
These questions will help you identify a few areas to focus on in the New Year and where there is room for improvement.
10. Review spending
Another area for reflection is where your money is going. Could you cut back anywhere or switch to more competitive suppliers? This blog on how to reduce business spending offers tips that could help.
If you’re shutting down for the Christmas period, don’t forget to turn off lights or power systems that don’t need to be running whilst you’re not there. Not only will it save you money, it’s good for the environment too.
11. Communicate your plans
With many businesses shutting down at some point over the Christmas period it’s important to communicate your plans with your customers so that they are aware of your opening hours. Don’t forget to ask your suppliers for their plans so you don’t have any unexpected surprises during the festive season.
It’s a good idea to set up out-of-office replies which explain when you will be back and give emergency contact information in case something urgent needs your attention.
12. Relax and enjoy!
One of the most important tips we can share is to find the time to relax and have fun!
It can be hard to switch off as a business owner, but by giving yourself the space to enjoy the festivities with your loved ones you can rejuvenate yourself and begin 2023 feeling fresh and ready for the New Year ahead.