The holidays are coming! Yay! Personally, it’s my favorite time of year, but I’ve worked in enough offices to know that it can often be a source of worry for those who have to keep everything together over the Christmas and New Year period.
Nothing is more likely to disturb your peace and goodwill than a panicked call from a client to say that something isn’t working on Christmas Eve, or that something else has failed on New Year’s Day. Likewise, you don’t want to come into the office on December 26th – or worse, January 4th – to find a barrage of angry emails from customers whose calls went unanswered, unpaid bills, overdraft charges or cut-off services.
I’ve drawn up 7 tips to ensure holiday preparedness for service businesses, that should be able to protect you from the worst of things that can go bad at Christmas. Sort them out now, and before you know it, you’ll be home with a glass of eggnog, getting through some fantastic books. Well, a girl can hope, can’t she?!
Holiday preparedness for service businesses this festive season
1. Update your website with up-to-date, explicit holiday opening hours and/or hours of service. Make sure they’re accurate, and clearly marked for 2015. Then stick them on your:
— On your homepage,
— Just one page deeper and clearly linked, or
— On your contact page….you don’t want clients to have to dig around for them.
2. When you’re in the service business, you know that your customers don’t limit themselves to office hours – especially not in the festive season! Make sure your emergency service schedule holds up even with employee vacations and heavy holiday traffic and update any contact numbers or information accordingly.
3. Don’t leave people hanging on your social media accounts. Either create a nice, festive graphic to pin and let people know you won’t be posting as normal for a given period, or load up a tool like Buffer with scheduled posts and let it do the work for you. Don’t turn everything over to the robots, though – if it looks like you’re still around, you’ll need to do a quick check every day to keep customer service under control and pick up on any little issues.
4. Liaise with other service providers that you rely on to make sure THEIR holiday plans don’t interfere with yours. Think about suppliers, cleaners, drivers and anyone else you rely on for the smooth functioning of your business.
5. Those suppliers, cleaners and drivers I just mentioned? If anyone needs some festive recognition, it’s them and not your fat cat clients! Even if you’re not sure if they celebrate Christmas, a nice gift or card thanking them for their help in 2015 can go a long way.
6. Chase up invoices before the holidays – if you’re hoping to be paid by someone, just remember that many businesses close up completely over the holiday period, especially outside of the US. If you really need the cash from an invoice, chase it up now, before people disappear until January and then take until February to get their finances back in line!
7. Ok, this last one is personal, but I think it deserves a mention. There’s nothing more depressing than walking into a cold, musty building to be greeted with dead ferns on January 4, and then have to pull down the dusty tinsel, to add insult to injury. Consider having a cleaner come before your employees come back, or providing coffee and cake to make that first Monday back a little brighter!
When you walk into the office on January 4th, will you be feeling enthusiastic and calm, ready for 2016, or a heavy sense of guilt, after having totally let go of the reins over the holiday period?
Let’s make sure it’s the former – take these tweaks on board: Christmas will be calmer, your service business will be slicker and your customers happier. I guarantee it!
Header image by Ashton Pal