Christmas, it’s such a busy time of year! Suppliers and consumers alike are flat out.
Consumers are kicking into full buying mode for Christmas; buying presents, booking holidays, thinking about martinis, beaches, comfy clothes and all the junk food and alcohol they’re going to eat and drink.
Businesses are scrambling to finalise projects, plan for the closed period, and ensure cash flow for paying out staff over the holiday break.
So with all the confusion and rush, its easy to forget to do a few small key things before you shut up shop for the year.
Here are 5 simple things to remember to do for your business before closing for Christmas.
1. Let Your Customers Know Your Hours
This is simple but important. Letting customers know your hours helps them to know if they need to buy products or finalise projects before you close up for the year, when you are not available, and when they can come back to their normal shopping behaviour with you.
If you don’t let your customers know your hours, they might get frustrated because they can’t get hold of you, or annoyed because they wanted to engage your services or buy your products, but are unable to. It’s a simple thing to do, and helps your customers know they are valued by you, as well as making your job easier.
The key places for you to let your customers know your holiday hours are:
A great place to add your holiday hours is on the Contact page of your website.
If you run an ecommerce store, you might need to think about shutting your shop if you are closing. Otherwise, make sure you let customers know about possible delays in deliverability of products purchased over the break. You can do this with a storewide notice or with a message on the Cart/Checkout pages.
You can also create a popup message to the entire website that informs customers of your important dates.
If you stay in touch with your customers through email newsletters, then be sure to send them out an end of year newsletter with your key holiday dates. It’s a great time to be thankful for their support through the year and get them excited about doing business with you in the new year.
Your Facebook and Instagram Pages
Letting customers know your Christmas and holiday break hours through your Facebook and Instagram pages is simple to do and really effective. You can create these in advance and schedule them to go out on the appropriate dates through Meta Business.
Your Google Business Listing
Don’t forget to set your closed or open dates in your Google Business Listing. There is a simple option for adding your holiday hours in, date by date. This way if customers find you through local searches, they will straight away be able to see if you are open or closed.
You can also create an update to let people know key dates and deliverability delays in your Google Business Listing.
2. Set Up Out Of Office Email Messages
To avoid confusion with unanswered emails this Christmas, set up automatic out-of-office email messages for all your key email accounts. If you’re not sure how to do this, contact your email provider for help. That way you can turn off your computers and know that any emails that are sent have been automatically replied to, letting your valued customers know that you will get back to them once you are back in the office.
You can always add a phone number or alternate email address to the automated messages that the customer can use if there is an emergency or something too important to wait.
3. Schedule Social Posts
If you’re active on your business social pages – and even if you’re not – you can schedule up posts for the period that you are closed. That way you can still stay top of mind with your followers without doing any work over the break.
Mere Kirihimete (Merry Christmas in Maori) and Happy New Years posts are a simple and easy way to connect with followers.
A post for the day you close with a recap for your year, along with a post for the day you reopen to remind customers they can shop as normal, are also great posts to schedule in.
If you aren’t using it already, Canva is a great free tool to use to design your social posts.
4. Check for Any Outstanding Accounts
The Christmas/New Years holiday break is always hard on businesses financially. Even if you don’t close, you still have to pay your staff time and a half and a day in lieu in New Zealand.
Some businesses, like those in hospitality and tourism, are at their very busiest through this time. But most of us close up shop and go on holiday with our family and friends for 2 – 3 weeks. This means businesses are paying staff holiday pay, office rent and general ongoing business expenses, but not making any money.
To help ensure your cashflow over the break, check your accounts in the lead up to the holidays. Follow up any customers with overdue invoices and try and get these paid before the break.
5. Update Your Voicemail Messages
Just like your email messages, you can update your voice mail messages to let people know you are closed, how they can contact you if there’s something urgent, and when you will be reopening. If you need customers to be able to reach you still, you can leave an emergency number they can call or even forward their call onto your cell phone.
Being super clear with your staff and clients on your closure dates and any procedures around these, will help the festive period go smoother for everyone involved.
Some final notes for things you might like to do before closing for Christmas this year:
Not closing this Christmas? Let your clients know this too. Put this on your website, on your socials and in your newsletter. Make sure your customers know you are open and working as usual.
Gifts are a great way to show your staff and key customers your appreciation of them. If this is a part of your business culture, now’s a good time to get these organised.
Most businesses plan a Christmas function for their staff to celebrate the year and show appreciation. The hospitality industry becomes swamped this time of year and many places book out quickly, so be sure to get this booked in quickly.
Christmas in New Zealand is a time for family and whānau, a time for celebration, reflection and relaxation. It’s a great time for business owners and staff to wind down and take the time to smell the roses. If you can close, then do so. Spend the time with your family, reset your mind and energy, and feel energised and excited when you return in the new year.
Many kiwis are not as fortunate as others. They won’t be spending the break eating delicious food or celebrating on holiday with family and friends. If you can, it’s a great time to give a little something to those in need.
Lastly, the roads become packed this time of year as everyone heads out on holidays. Drive safe and share the road, so we can all come back to work in the new year and continue being awesome!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, to your families from ours.