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Preparing your Business for the Christmas Shutdown

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Posted by Jessie Mclean on 29 Nov 2023
While it's very common for businesses to take a break around Christmas, it isn't quite as straightforward as flipping the sign on the door to 'closed' when the last person leaves. You'll need to consider how to minimise or deal with any business issues over the break and ensure everything will run smoothly once you re-open.

To take the stress off an already busy time, we've come up with a list of 6 things to do to ensure you and your business are ready for the shutdown. 

1. Inform your Customers

Everyone knows that many companies’ standard business hours change dramatically during the end-of-year period, so make it clear to your customers exactly when you’ll be open and any likely service delays or limitations.  This is key to managing people’s expectations while everyone’s away and avoiding confusion or frustration, so it’s best to warn people early – put a note on your website or in your window, change your phone message, send out an email…whatever’s the best way to communicate with your customers.

2. Talk to your Suppliers

The same point applies to your Suppliers – if you’re not going to need or be able to receive their products and services, ensure you let them know beforehand. Don’t forget about everyday services like your milk delivery or courier!

Additionally, some Supplier shutdown periods might be more extended than yours, so they'll still be closed or only provide limited services when you return. To avoid any problems after the break, check with your Suppliers well in advance to see if you'll need to make any alternative arrangements for essential products or services.

3. Set up cover for the Break

While it's important to tell people your business is closing down (whether for a couple of days or weeks), you'll also need to consider how you'll manage anyone who does get in touch. Can they leave a message for when you get back or contact someone in an emergency? Are they able to access information or place orders through your website themselves? How will you deal with these orders or enquiries when you re-open to minimise further delays?

4. Confirm staff arrangements

You'll need to clarify several details with staff before the shutdown period, depending on your internal policies and procedures. These could include:

Exactly when the business is closed, and when it re-opens (e.g. if you close on Friday the 23rd, do staff still need to come to work that day?), and whether it's compulsory to take leave during that period.
The amount of leave staff will need to take and what happens if they don't have enough annual leave accrued.
The last dates for expense claims/payments and any disruptions of regular salary payments (e.g. if the normal payday falls within the shutdown period).
Contact arrangements over the break – let staff know who to contact if there's an urgent issue, and ensure any designated contacts know to keep an eye on their work phone and email.

5. Clean up

This isn't important if you're only closing down for a few days. Still, if your workplace is going to be empty for a week or more, it's worth ensuring it's clean and tidy beforehand so it'll be a pleasant and motivating environment to return to. (This includes the fridge if you have one – ensure that anything perishable is thrown out before you go. Otherwise, you might make some rather interesting discoveries when you come back!)

At the same time, ensure that any valuable items such as laptops are securely put away to minimise the temptation to thieves; confidential documents should also be filed appropriately.

6. Say thank you

The end of the year is a great time to reflect on how the year's gone for your company and show appreciation for the Customers and Suppliers who keep your business going, even if it's just a general thank you in an email or newsletter. It doesn't hurt to do something more personalised for key Customers or Suppliers, but this doesn't have to be hugely elaborate or expensive – the point is to show that you recognise and appreciate their contribution and want to maintain a great working relationship.

Don't forget about your staff, either; without them, your business wouldn't function, let alone grow, so do take the time to let them know you're grateful for their work, whether you throw a big Christmas party or take a minute to (literally) say an individual thank you. Naturally, you don't have to wait till the end of the year to tell your staff how much you appreciate them, but making sure you do so before the Christmas shutdown means they can head off for a break feeling good about what they've achieved, then come back refreshed and ready for a great start next year.

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