Closing your business over the summer can make a lot of sense. Maybe your employees are on leave, you’re struggling with a staff shortage, it’s a quiet time of year, or you’re hankering for a break.
Check these six tips to help prepare and you’ll be able to hit the ground running on your return after an extended break.
Going on vacation? Don’t make it obvious
Rather than put up signs, email clients, and emblazon your website with your upcoming closure, be clever about your phrasing.
Consider messages such as ‘closed for stocktake’, ‘closed for maintenance’ or ‘re-opening after our stocking and inventory’. That wording implies people may be on site, so keeps potential intruders guessing.
About a fortnight before you shutter the premises, record an automated phone message to explain your business is winding down for a festive-season break. Then, just before you close, record another message telling callers when you’ll return and how to get in touch with your team in the meantime.
As well, save your social media posts about your holiday until after you’ve returned. Otherwise, potential criminals could see your business as a target.
Make sure your security systems are in working order
Carry out these security tips before you go on leave:
- Update staff about security policies (locking up valuables, remote work, emergency contacts, dates your premises will be closed and re-open)
- Check your security gear and equipment works, including alarms, video surveillance, cyber security software, smart locks, access control, and panic buttons
- Inform your security company of your holidays
- Avoid using public WiFi – invest in a virtual protected network
- Double-check when you’re doing your final lock up, such as for windows, entrances, sensitive areas, and
- Review and update your access control system, if you have one. Do the right staff have the codes for the specific areas they need?
Plan to keep work moving
Consider looking at your workflow to gauge if it’s worthwhile to outsource tasks or rejig priority lists for staff to complete before they go on holiday. For example, tell staff and clients when they need to put their timesheets and invoices in so they can be paid before the business break. You might even schedule a pay run in advance, too. And, be sure to send your invoices and chase up outstanding ones before the break.
Are there any mission-critical subscriptions to products or services (including software) due during the break? Let your suppliers know what’s happening and find out if they’re closing or ramping down their business over the summer.
As well, could you delegate financial statements, tax returns, or compliance statements to your accountant or relevant experts, so it’s done for you on your return?
List what commitments and deadlines you’ll face on your return. Can you start on any of those now? Maybe friends and family could be trained to help boost your production to meet pre-Christmas orders.
Turn off equipment and thermostats
Save energy and money (and stress):
- Turn off (even better, unplug!) non-essential office equipment, such as lamps, printers, computers, and photocopiers
- Reprogram your thermostats during the closure
- Run the back-up cycle on your computers and servers, if you have them, before and after the shutdown, and
- Forewarn your off-site data storage centre (if you use one), that you will be doing a computer backup before the break and will need it picked up on a particular date.
Keep the power running to your phone and security systems, refrigeration, servers, and backups as well as fax machines (yes, some SMEs still need to use them). Have lights randomly turn on to thwart intruders.
Preparing your website
Ensure your customers and clients don’t get a nasty surprise you’re closed for the festive season. Harness your website to steer them in the right direction:
- Add a banner detailing the holiday closure period on your website
- Update your forms and contact page, so you’re not promising a swift turnaround you can’t deliver (ensure someone is checking those emails, if possible)
- Review any paid advertising you’re running
- Schedule content to go live on your website/social media channels after you return
- Consider locking your website to stop unauthorised logins during your break. It also helps keep your data safe, including that of your customers.
- Update your Google Business Profile and social media pages and profiles, including LinkedIn
- Update your email signature with your closure information, and
- Add info about your festive season closure to your e-newsletters and personally notify clients, where possible.
Check your business insurance before you go anywhere
Those tips will set you on your way to managing the risks, but how are your risk management and crisis management plans? Time to review them.
Also, review your business insurance to ensure it reflects your current circumstances for the coverage you need. Business insurance can help protect your premises and contents against:
- Theft, and
- Financial loss due to business interruption.
Let us, as your broker or adviser, help you review your policy fine print to ensure your cover continues whether you’re on a break or not. If you can’t fit in a chat before the festive season, secure a New Year appointment as a plan B.