Holidays can be few and far between for independent contractors and small business owners. Should you wish to close down for the holidays, advance planning could make the difference between losing clients and finding them waiting for you when you come back to work. Find out how to close business for the holidays.
Give Advanced Notice
Your customers, clients, vendors and service providers won’t be surprised you’ve closed for the holidays if they know well in advance. At the start of the holiday month, consider changing your business’s automated phone greeting to include the dates your business will be closed. If you have employees, have them change their outgoing voicemail messages around the same time to keep customers or clients who contact them directly apprised of the closing. Send emails to clients letting them know you’re closing for the holidays, and mention it as part of phone and in-person conversations in the days leading up to your closing date.
Delegate, If Necessary
You might wish to offer a backup to clients or customers needing assistance during the holidays. Consider asking a trusted partner with whom you share overflow work – who will be open for business during the holidays – to take your clients until you return, in exchange for a referral fee.
Wrap Up Projects
Customers like getting their projects finished early. Finishing as many projects ahead of schedule as possible could lead to new business when you reopen your doors. Consider wrapping up your projects before closing for the holidays. Finish projects in enough time to get feedback and make any changes the client wants. For long-term projects, meet with your clients to get a clear sense of the amount of work they want finished before the holidays and where they want you to pick up once you return.
Shut Down Most Equipment
Shutting off equipment can save you money, whether you rent an office or use a home office. For example, if you have an home office and you’re closing for the holidays, consider turning off your printer and desktop computer, and unplugging equipment such as your paper shredder and copier. In an office outside of your home, shut off all lights and make sure no water is running. You might even reduce the ambient temperature inside the office if everyone will be gone. Even though you’re shutting down for a week or two, you might leave on your server, as well as the fax machine and telephone system, if you still use traditional versions of such equipment. You might also consider leaving any on-site refrigerators running.
Pay the Bills
Paying your bills before you close down for the holidays makes it so much easier to reopen your business inspired and ready to work. In addition to paying vendor invoices, utility bills and credit card bills, consider paying your employees or any contractors to whom you delegate work. Distributing pre-holiday paychecks spreads a lot of goodwill that may benefit you significantly in the new year.