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Christmas Preparations – it’s not too early

While it may be too early to be pulling out the Christmas decorations, financial preparation for the upcoming festive season should be something you are thinking about.

The holiday period between December and February will mean staff on leave, unusual and sporadic opening hours and statutory holidays to navigate. All of the above can have real effects on cashflow and financial positions.

Some financial forethought and planning can go a long way to ensuring your summer holiday is as stress free and smooth as possible. Let’s look at some tips to ensure you are best placed for our upcoming summer.

Overdue accounts

If you have a number of overdue accounts, begin making arrangements to have them chased up.

If you aren’t interested in doing this yourself, find someone who is comfortable getting on the phone and making sure that hard-earned cash ends up in your account. You may need some strategy around managing debtors – the suggestions below can go a long way to ensuring prompt payment:
• Have a process – Consider delegating and set time aside on a regular basis to ensure it doesn’t become out of control.
• Make it easy for customers to pay – Set clear payment terms and ensure details are easily accessed.
• Take advantage of accounting software to send automatic reminders – Automatic reminders can remove the hassle of manually sending emails and phoning customers.

Plan ahead

Planning in advance applies to both staff and clients/customers. Creating a timeline of actions that need to happen before the Christmas break will ensure your staff is busy and your customers are left happy and aware of time lines.

There are a number of tools available to assist with planning and job management. A chat with your business adviser will ensure the best application is found for your business.

Communicate

Communicating opening hours and closures is critical to ensure you keep your clients happy. Reminding them of when you will be shut will avoid disappointment and maximise traffic on days you are open.

Consider adding footers to emails, updating Google listings, social media updates and even a good old sign on the door. Much of this can be done well in advance and shelved until you need it. Avoid leaving tasks until the last minute.

Work in progress

Clear it out. Strike while the iron is hot and work to move all pending and in progress jobs to the completed pile. This will free up much needed cash and allow bills to start going out. This is where a well thought through plan can help you and ensure workflow is as optimised as possible.

Work over the holiday time

What I hear all the time from our clients is that their clients don’t want to hear from them and so productivity is just down at that time of year regardless – I say rubbish.

Plan what can be done for clients (get what you need from them in advance) so that the team can get the work done to a certain point over the holidays – don’t let the norm continue to be the norm – challenge the boundaries, talk now to get what you need and arrange the appointments with the client now for the other side of the break to get it complete.

I have worked with a number of people who have turned this period of time around to a really profitable one by doing just that.

A final note

Refer back to what happened last year, what you did right and what you could do better.

Similarly, note down your actions so in future you have a good reference and a great plan for future holidays. A little preparation can go a long way. Your business adviser will be able to provide you with a number of other helpful tips when preparing for the end of the year.

Michelle Hill
Michelle Hill
Michelle Hill is advisory partner at BDO Rotorua and one of Rotorua’s leading business advisory coaches. Talk to Michelle and the team at BDO about how they can help you to achieve your business goals. Michelle can be reached on rotorua@bdo.co.nz or (07) 347 9087

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