Before you close your doors for the holidays, ask yourself if you have successfully considered your client or customer needs?
Many professionals, entrepreneurs and service providers close down shop during the latter part of December. The need to have down time is real, so it seems as though the holidays are a perfect time to check out.
While rest and recovery are important and needed, there are ways to reduce your hours, enjoy the holidays and ensure clients who have time and money to spend now can get a response.
It is sometimes a little frustrating to receive those ‘closed for the duration’ notes as part of classic, holiday customer service. After trying to reach a potential vendor to possibly enroll in training program for early next year, my efforts landed in the automated reply. As I groaned to the festive tune of, “UGHHHHHH! Where are they when we need them?!,” this message reminded me how your clients might appreciate it if you are among the minority of business owners, companies, or entrepreneurs operating in between the holidays.
The email said:
“Our company offices will be closed Dec 16th – Jan 8, 2012. I will return on January 9th and all emails will be answered at that time. In case of an emergency please call ???/???/???? and someone will get back to you as soon as we can. My best,”
In addition, a professional colleague sent me this:
“Good morning All: As this year draws to a close, I wanted to let you know the our office schedule for the balance of this year. Our office will be open until Friday, December 23. Our office will be closed beginning December 24 and will reopen January 3, 2012. I will begin my winter holiday on December 21 and return January 4.”
While it’s true that one of the advantages of being a business owner is the ability to set his/her own schedule, let’s not forget that the end of the year can be a prime time to take client calls and cover emails.
There must be others like you who use holiday down time after Christmas and before New Years, to finish evaluating the previous year’s business. On a personal note, I happen to have a track record of making some of my most significant decisions and/or purchases during this season. In the past, I’ve done some of my greatest investing in training, professional conferences, and advertising at this time. During one holiday ‘shutdown’ season, I even purchased a house on December 31st! Consequently, I am grateful to those who have will answer their phone this time of the year. One professional on my team who remains accessible during the holiday season is my accountant—and thank goodness for that. The last few years my accountant has strategically advised me to take some time both anticipating goods and services for the upcoming year and to purchase before the year-end as tax-saving strategy. “Spend wisely”, he said as he illustrated the tax benefits. This process has been refined over time. Some of the categories that you can still easily purchase before year-end are:
Professional development training and coaching
Organizations and professional memberships and associations
Conference registrations and travel (airline tickets, prepay hotel rooms)
Business promotional items
Advertising and marketing expenditures
And speaking of another winding year, here are a few year-end rituals to put on your checklist (if you have not already done so):
Call to your accountant for a year to date business review
Review of current year’s expenses
Evaluate of what is working and not working
Determine if any planned expenditures would be more beneficial in the current year or the next year
Consider having someone cover email and phone matters, even if it can only be done for limited hours between Christmas and New Year’s. (Limited access still affords you and your team the downtime.) Tactics to position the New Year for growth and success: Make sure when you close for the holidays — check in with your clients first.Be aware of who has money to use or loose due their annual budgeting process. (Who has money to spend to save on current year taxes or who is waiting for the New Year to buy your products and services?) Once you have considered these steps, you are ready to close your doors until the New Year.
As for me? Of course I am taking some time off… but my time sensitive messages and e-mails will not go neglected.