Christmas shutdown PR 3

The staff want good cheer and maybe wine, and time off work. Customers want service. A new survey reveals how smaller companies are preparing for the Christmas shut-down.

In the wake of Black Friday, which is now a four-day shopping frenzy, retailers are in the midst of the most chaotic period in the shopping calendar, as the climactic Christmas countdown gains momentum.

But this same sense of furore can also be found in the B2B (business to business) world, as businesses work tirelessly to service their clients in time for the Christmas shutdown and draw a line under 2017.

In spite of the numerous financial and productivity-related benefits that come with closing up shop for Christmas, a new study by locker manufacturer Action Storage has lifted the lid on the challenges that come with saying goodbye to the final quarter and hello to the New Year.

1,000 UK business owners were asked to share how they prepare for the Christmas period - and it looks like keeping customers and clients happy and informed is top of the priority list.

Taking the top spot with 54 per cent of the overall vote, most small and medium-sized businesses revealed that prioritising urgent tasks and projects came first for them - with female entrepreneurs being especially focused on this strategic workload management.

Next on the pre-Christmas prep list is communicating important information to customers and clients - from offer and order deadlines to seasonal opening hours - with 52 per cent of voters declaring this a matter of urgency.

In Yorkshire, a substantial 83 per cent of respondents considered sharing these details with their customers or clients their ultimate priority.

Maximum resource, minimum mess

During the busiest period of the year for virtually any business, a reactive approach to juggling resource is crucial - and a third of business owners surveyed said strategically managing seasonal staff resource was a key concern for them.

Younger business owners were particularly conscious of this balancing act, with 44 per cent of respondents under 25 naming this a pre-Christmas priority.

Britain’s SMEs are also declaring war on mess this festive season - with 29 per cent of voters planning to declutter and deep clean their office or store before they break for Christmas.

Accounting and assets

Money matters are at the forefront of many entrepreneurs’ minds as 2017 draws to a close, with a quarter of all survey respondents looking to balance their cash flow this Christmas season - prioritising paying their staff and chasing up client invoices.

In the North East of England, bookkeeping is first on the agenda - with 60 per cent of business owners in the region placing this firmly at the top of their priority list.

16 per cent of all participants (and over a fifth of 35-44 year olds) revealed they’d be ramping up security when closing for Christmas, in an aim to protect their assets during the scheduled shutdown.

Some respondents offered their own two cents when it came to crucial end-of-year prep - with alternative answers including preparing their January schedule ahead of time and, of course, organising the all-important Christmas party.

With this insight from business owners across Britain, the UK’s SME community can get its ducks in a row this December and enjoy a fresh start in 2018.

Simon Mitchell, Managing Director at Action Storage, said: “It’s encouraging to see how highly Britain’s business owners value communicating with their customers – and the general trend for rounding up one year before ringing in the next. I’m a big believer in the ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’ philosophy. This way, you can start the New Year with only new business, ideas and opportunities ahead of you.”

Topline results

Respondents were able to select multiple answers to the following question:

In which of the following ways does your business prepare for the Christmas shutdown?

  • Prioritising urgent tasks/projects: 54.0 per cent
  • Communicating deadlines & opening hours: 52.0 per cent
  • Managing staff resource at peak periods: 33.0 per cent
  • Deep cleaning and organising your office or store: 29.0 per cent
  • Paying staff/chasing invoices: 25.0 per cent
  • Implementing additional security measures: 16.0 per cent
  • Other: 10.0 per cent