By James Dunworth, Co-Founder, ECigaretteDirect.co.uk
It’s the age-old dilemma – to open or not to open over Christmas is a question thousands of small business owners will be puzzling over as the festive season approaches.
For some the extra shut down days mean a sizeable loss of productivity and revenue whilst for others it makes financial sense if their customers have closed and their services are not needed.
Deciding whether to open or not is a decision each business owner must make based on their area of expertise and client base.
There will be some exceptions – if you work in retail or run a bar or restaurant, then of course you will be open.
In this article, I offer my tips on whether a Christmas shut down is the right thing for your business.
What are your customers doing?
The first question you must ask yourself is - are my customers going to be working over the holidays?
If your client base is shutting down over Christmas, then there really is no point you being in the office unless you have administrative tasks to do.
There will always be little jobs you can do if you’re in, but if you could do them as part of your normal working day, why interrupt the extended holiday?
Do the people you employ want to work over the holidays? Most of them will say no.
This is one of the few times in the year when we can get almost two weeks off work and only need to take a few days out of our annual holiday allowance.
If you do need to staff to work over the holiday period, why not create a fun environment on Christmas Eve?
Bringing in mince pies and a spot of mulled wine won’t go amiss and will increase staff morale. A nice Christmas bonus for staff will also be welcomed at this time of year.
If you’re in serviced office accommodation, remember to check what times the building will be open during the period.
Some run just a weekend service – which means letting yourself in with limited office support available.
Others will shut down completely. Do check on their plans before you make your decision.
Out of hours cover
Instead of having people in between Christmas and New Year, could you offer customers who are working an out of hours service?
Provide them with mobile numbers of the people you will have available to speak with them should they need you.
If your business offers an online service, try to have some flexibility for both your staff and customers over the Christmas period.
Where possible, encourage your staff to work from home to cover your online service – it will be easier for them as opposed to dragging themselves into the office.
Communicate with your customers
If you provide a delivery service online or have store opening times, make sure to communicate with your customers what the business’ plans are.
For delivery times over Christmas, be clear and concise with your customers about dates for delivery times before, during and after the festive period.
New Year, fresh start
Whether you’ve had a tough year, or a record breaking one, giving your staff time off over the festive period gives them a chance to recharge their batteries ready for 2015. It’s also a way of saying thank you for all the hard work they’ve done.