Christmas means different things to different people but at the heart of it, it’s a season of giving and goodwill. Whilst retailers might be reporting their best ever Q4, small service business might be seeing things slow down as customers and clients turn their attention elsewhere during the silly season. Whilst you may be staring downhearted into the cold bleak January, bracing yourself for a quiet month, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you don’t have a hangover this Christmas Time. Not a financial one anyway!
Organise Your Accounts
To occupy your quiet hours, put some passion into your accounts. This could be organising the drawer full of receipts you’ve not yet done anything with or having a meeting with your bookkeeper. Don’t waste time wallowing when the phone isn’t ringing or you’re not doing any client work. Get your business into the position it needs to be in so when the phone does start ringing, you don’t need to start messing around with the accounts side of the business. This side of things is dealt with, errors rectified and everything is as sparkling as the season.
Know Your Cash Flow
One of the things you can do when you have that chat with your bookkeeper is to learn more about your cash flow. What’s actually coming in and going out? What are your best months? How can you plan for these quieter months when you still have overheads to pay? Getting a feel for what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’ of your business integral to understanding how your business is doing. You can also plan for the future. Where and when can you invest in growth? Where can you cut back on spending? Knowing more about your cash flow can help you figure out a better work flow.
Chase Those Late Payments
Maybe you’ve been chasing some late payments for a while. You’ve never managed to get the client on the phone as you’ve been busy working during office hours and they’re not replying to your emails. Well, now things are quieter, get on the phone and speak to them. Unpaid invoices are the bane of small business life. You may have had to shell out for parts on top of spending the time working for the customer. If that’s the case you’re not only owed for the hours but your books are actually in the red on that specific job. No one should be expected to work for late payments and those who don’t pay should put themselves in the shoes of those they’re not paying.
Consider Changing Your Terms
With the above said, you could consider changing the terms of your invoices. Maybe you have a 30 days payment term which is met by the majority of your clients. For those who don’t pay on time though, consider changing the payment terms to 14 days so they understand you need payment. You could also add late payment charges across all your invoices or pick and choose where you implement this depending on the usual non-paying suspects.
Plan For Next Year
Spend some time planning ahead for next year. We’ve mentioned looking at the months you do the most business and understanding your cash flow a little better but where is the business going? How do you want it to look this time next year? Get on the phone and contact previous customers. They might be able to fill the impending quiet January with work for you.
Enjoy The Season
Most importantly, you need to enjoy the festive season. Close the office early and take your employees for a drink. Take a walk through the Christmas lights. Let your customers know that you’ll be taking a full two weeks off to spend time with your family. Work is important, understanding how your business works is integral but what are we doing it for if we’re not spending time with those that we love? Plan ahead, spend time away from the business and you’ll come back to everything refreshed and refocused for the New Year.