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How can small businesses plan for Christmas?


With yuletide almost upon us, how can an SME ensure they properly prepare for the holiday close-down? We asked the Business Doctors what measures small and medium sized firms can put in place to ensure the process is as hassle-free as possible.

Russell Grant, Leicester Business Doctor says: “Make sure your customers are aware of your plans over the Christmas period. Communicate clearly any reduced trading days or hours so that their expectations are managed and they can start to plan accordingly.

Martin Vessey, Business Doctor for Buckinghamshire and East Oxfordshire, adds:  “The key to client retention is good communication and businesses need to think about how their clients would feel if they could not make a live contact with someone. Ensuring continuity of communication throughout the period is really important.”

Avon and Somerset Business Doctor Richard Tidswell has some advice about managing stock levels over the holiday period. “Ensure discussions with any suppliers take place to understand closing periods and last order dates. You may need to forward order to ensure stock levels are maintained if suppliers are closed for extended period over Christmas,” he says.

 “Ask customers if they would like extra stock to cover the holidays,” adds Russell Grant. “If you are encouraging them to take extra stock to suit you rather than them, you may need to offer credit customers a few days extra credit to encourage them to help you.”

Finally, consider using the Christmas period to explore ways to innovate, says Richard Tidswell.  “Take advantage of the changing demands and conditions this time of year brings to look at ways employees could operate more flexibly and even remotely . A Christmas period trial may actually give some useful insights into potential new ways of working, reducing demands on physical workspace and offering employees the flexibility they may crave.”

By Martin Vessey, Russell Grant and Richard Tidswell