If you are running your own business the festive season can feel like something of a balancing act. Afterall, although most people take time off and your customers may be shutting up shop there isn’t 100% consistency over which are non-working days. So, as you juggle to have time off with your loved ones how can you also ensure that you avoid losing any business with people who are working during the Christmas period?
Here are some tips to help make the most of business during the holidays:
Think about your customers
Are they likely to need you over the festive period? When you think back to last year, did any of your customers comment about you not working? If they did, consider whether you need to have at least a skeleton staff working. Remember that many businesses will use the quiet time for planning for 2019.
Communicate with your customers
If you want to close down completely, make sure you tell your customers beforehand. Managing their expectations is key so that you don’t have unhappy customers that start looking for alternative providers.
Can you be on call?
You may not to have your team in the office, but can they be on call and then simply respond if needed? You will have to pay them something on the days they are on call, so that they are available for work. We all want to chill out over the festive period and that may include a glass, or two, of something ‘festive’, but your staff cannot work if they’ve had one too many, so it’s only fair to compensate them if you’re asking them to be near their laptop or able to drive to a customer.
However, having one or two staff on call each day is far more cost effective than asking everyone to be in the office – or losing customers by not providing them with the support they need.
Put your opening hours online
If you are going to close for the festive period, make sure your customers can clearly find out when you are next open for business. If they have been happy with your services in the past, they may be able to wait until you are next open.
Whether you have a hosted VoIP solution or in-house PBX phone system, you will be able to divert your calls.
This may be to:
An answer machine that is checked regularly
Divert to someone’s mobile. If you have someone on call, they are the ideal person to divert the call to. Most VoIP solutions allow you to log in and change that number so that the same person isn’t on call throughout the festive period.
Check your email
Even at Christmas our phones aren’t likely to be far from our sides, so a quick check will show whether you’ve got any emails from customers. Hopefully they will say in the email when they need a response. Be sensible about managing their expectations, as you may get a demanding customer expecting a response on Boxing Day!
Keep cyber safe
Switch off all user PCs that will not be needed over the festive period. If they aren’t in use – power them down. This will help mitigate the effects of an unexpected data breach or virus attack; a lot of damage can be done over a week and if no one is around you might not be aware of the problem until you unlock the office on your first day back.
Variability of opening hours for businesses during the festive season is increasing. Did you know that Tesco and Sainsburys will even have some stores open on Christmas Day? In the previous years retailers such as DFS and Next have had massive queues on Boxing Day. It will be interesting to see where people go this year! As you enjoy some time off and close your business for at least part of the festive period, review these tips to avoid losing business from those who are working on different days to you and your team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Ianiri is Director of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox. Mike works with companies, charities and other organisations to help them choose the right telecoms packages for their needs and thereby reduce their costs. He is particularly knowledgeable on the integration of IT and telecoms in business. www.equinoxcomms.co.uk.