Your holiday business closure checklist: 8 tips

The lead up to the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period can be a little frantic for small business owners and their staff. Between wrapping things up and finishing the current year strong and planning for the upcoming year, there can be a lot to do.

Businesswoman wearing glasses sitting in office near xmas tree and working on laptop during the holiday season

To help you manage it all you may benefit from having a business closure checklist on-hand to refer to while you prepare your business for the holidays and the upcoming year. After all, it won’t work to simply schedule an out-of-office email and hang a sign on the front door of your office saying, “closed.” Here is a holiday business closure checklist for 2023/24 featuring tips for how to prepare for holiday periods.

1. Communicating your closure dates

Your business might be closed or have limited hours during the holiday season. It is important to inform your customers, vendors, stakeholders, and any other concerned parties about any business disruptions. This will prevent confusion and allow you to make sure that those who are in need of your services are able to reach you quickly.

As part of this process you may consider taking the following points, into consideration:

  • Send email reminders, schedule social media posts, or put a Christmas holiday note on your company website.
  • For a personal touch, add your seasonal hours to your holiday greetings cards or invoices.
  • Post your Christmas holiday trading hours on a whiteboard or poster if you have brick-and mortar premises.
  • Enable email auto-response and include hours of operation.
  • Change the automatic voicemail message in your company’s phone system.
  • Notify security personnel, ensuring that they have an up-to-date emergency contact list. This is important because security will need to know who they can contact in case of a security concern and who is authorised to enter the building during the Christmas holiday shutdown period.

2. Getting your outstanding invoices paid

It can be hard to catch up with invoices during the silly season. If you have customers who pay late, it is a good idea to start early. It is important that invoices are sent to customers as quickly as possible. Here’s a handy suggestion for when to follow up on invoices:

  • Reminder that the invoice due date is approaching.
  • Reminder that the invoice is due by the due date.
  • Two weeks late – a polite reminder in the case of an oversight.
  • Three weeks late – a phone conversation in which you agree to a fixed payment date.

If payment is not received by the due date, you may send a final email to inform the customer that the matter has been transferred to your lawyer or to a debt collection agency.

You may consider adding digital invoicing to your receivables process if your business isn’t already using it. Many small business accounting software products offer e-invoicing, which allows customers to pay their invoices with the click of a button.

3. Back up your servers and shut down equipment

You may not be able to access your office during the holidays. Protecting your data and hardware is essential to avoid any catastrophes. Make sure to schedule your IT consultants ahead of time to list critical systems and prepare servers to be backed up.

It is important to understand the proper shutdown procedures for your IT equipment. Heat can be a major problem for systems that are active 24/7, hardware can fail due to the expansion and contraction of delicate IT equipment.

To save power, remind employees to turn off computers and unplug larger devices such as printers and photocopiers. Conduct a visual inspection of the devices and check for any glowing lights. Devices are likely to still consume energy if an LED light is on, and this includes kitchen appliances such as microwaves and toasters.

4. Reduce your cyber security risk

As part of your holiday IT measures you may also run cyber security checks and remind your staff about the need for cyber security diligence, even during the festive season. You may do this by:

  • Reminding your staff about your cyber security policy;
  • Protecting your company’s sensitive data by ensuring staff use a Virtual Protected Network if they will be checking their work emails remotely during the Christmas shutdown period; and
  • Investing in Cyber Liability insurance.

5. Get ready for the new year

Before closing down for the Christmas holiday break, business owners should make it a priority to prepare the office for the upcoming year. Business owners may be able to forecast their expenses more accurately halfway through the fiscal year, which will help to make well-judged investment decisions for the New Year.

If you are looking for a new company vehicle, the price of the vehicle you’re eyeing off may drop in a year’s time. Dealers often offer end-of-year deals to clear out space for new models. This can be a great time to save money for your business.

It’s also a great time to make technology purchases. If you are looking to upgrade your office’s IT hardware, end-of-year sales could be a great way to save money.

6. Take care of the things you have been putting off

The end of the calendar year is a great time to make changes to grow your customer base or streamline your business processes if you have been thinking about them. These could include a website redesign, improved inventory tracking, or additional marketing assistance.

Once the holiday shopping season starts, you likely won’t have much time to make major changes. You’ll also miss an opportunity to improve your business and make it more efficient if you wait.

7. Create your year-end marketing plan

A great end of year strategy for business owners is to leverage the time of year for creative holiday promotions. To attract holiday shoppers and clients who enjoy this time of the year, you may try something new. Send a note of appreciation to existing clients with a sample of your product or some corporate stationery to show your appreciation to your customers and keep your business top of mind.

You may set aside some time for holiday marketing planning. You can find a lot of creative ideas online – but make sure that they work for you. You may consider identifying the channels that will give you the best return on your investment. This could be social media advertising, email marketing campaigns, direct mail postcards, or something else.

After you have created your promotional plan order your giveaways and have your direct mail and advertising pieces designed. Finally, create a timeline to help you know when you will be launching your products.

8. Bring the Christmas holiday cheer

It is important to remember the spirit of the Christmas holidays after all the time and effort you have spent preparing. After all the hard work involved in planning and preparation, don’t forget to have fun, let your hair down, and encourage your staff to do the same.

Wish your team a happy, joyful, and stress-free holiday season, and come back fresh in the new year ready to do it all again.

BizCover helps small business owners from Adelaide to Armidale and everywhere in between to reduce their risk via business insurance. So whether you require business insurance in South Australia or business insurance in Queensland or in any other Australian state, you can get it faster online with BizCover while also comparing competitive quotes from Australia’s leading business insurance providers.

Compare competitive business insurance quotes, get covered in only 10 minutes, avoid paperwork, and get back to business. If you prefer to speak with us, you’ll reach our friendly team on 1300 920 868.

This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording.
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ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769

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