Although businesses may start to wind down during the holiday season, the most conscientious business owners use this as a time to get organised.
1. Say thanks with a card not an email
Saying thank you to clients for their business can have an enormous impact on how they regard you. Think about what you would rather receive: a traditional card or an e-card? For many people in business, dealing with emails equates to pressure. E-cards can also be seen as just plain lazy. An email doesn’t match the impact of something that is addressed and physically delivered to you. A personal message is even better as it shows that you value your customer.
2. Use your down time wisely
If you are closing shop for the holidays, think about the things that were on your to-do list this year that you still haven’t got round to. The marketing of your business, for example, is often easy to put aside when day-to-day demands are taking up your time. Do you have big ideas for a new website? Now is a good time to organise your thoughts and get it all down on paper so you’re prepared when you engage a designer in 2012.
3. Stay available
If the business is closed, take the time to write a personal out-of-office email before the break. No one likes receiving a standard out-of-office response; it makes them feel unwanted. And don’t forget to update your office voicemail. If you don’t want to use call forwarding, at least provide a mobile number for client emergencies. It may not be ideal to have your mobile phone ring during family holiday time, but think of the impression you can make on a key client or customer if you help them out of a tight spot.
4. Pay your employees properly
If you need one or more of your employees to work on public holidays, make sure you are up- to-date on the rules regarding penalty pay rates. In Australia it can get confusing as there is no national standard and the rates and rules vary from state to state. Call your industry association or Fair Work Australia on 1300 799 675 to check.
5. Delegate wisely
If you’re on holidays but your business is not, plan for your absence. Instruct each employee in writing about what extra duties you need them to perform and how you can be contacted if something urgent comes up. Make them feel supported and appreciated – perhaps with a thank you lunch or dinner sometime in January after you return.
6. Take an online opportunity
The holiday period is when busy people are going to save time and shop online. If e-commerce is your business, there’s an opportunity here to keep revenue rolling in and retain customers if you do a little preparation. Meet customer expectations upfront by ensuring that your shipping and delivery policies take into account public holidays and any down time you have planned. Also, have your customer service area manned, even if only by email.
7. Rearrange the furniture
If you’ve been meaning to buy new desks, sort out the kitchen or just generally tidy things up a little bit, now is the time to do it. It also helps staff motivation when the team comes back to what looks like a whole new office.
8. Say thanks to those that most others forget
Does the same postman always deliver your post? Do you pass the same cleaning lady each week yet never offer more than a nod? If so, now is the time to acknowledge those that help keep your office running. A card and some festive flowers for the postman and cleaner will lead to some very healthy relationships in the coming year.
9. Plan next year’s training
If you’re the type of boss who hires personality and trains skill, then you must ensure that your team attends as many training events as possible. Events and training sessions sell out fast, so use the holiday period to research what’s coming up and book things in.
10. Let loose… a little
The holiday period is the one time of year in which you can get away with having a bit of fun with your staff. Take everyone out for lunch and get to know your team a bit more. It’s also a great opportunity to create some friendly office rivalry. Come up with some kind of staff competition and announce the winners over the team lunch.