Holidays can be a tricky time for small and medium businesses, and few are more challenging than Christmas and the end of year. With bargain-hunters bustling, suppliers shutting up shop, and staff taking time off, how can small businesses keep things ticking over smoothly?

Happily, there are ways to these tackle tricky times head on, and come out not just afloat, but ahead. We’ve pulled together a few top tips to make sure this festive period is just not just one where you survive, but thrive.

Organise promotions and sales

Buyers are out in force at this time of year and most are looking for a good deal, no matter your line of business. Christmas is a huge retail opportunity - per capita festive spending in the UK was £748 last year. Consider this an opportunity to boost your business!

Start by reviewing your sales for the previous year. Work out what sells and use those items to draw customers in, or offer deals on other goods to up their appeal. Do you have a Christmas favourite amongst your range? Dig it out, dust if off, and get it on the shelves.

Do a stock take

There’s nothing worse than running out of a product that’s selling well, and then finding out your supplier is closed until next year. This will be a lot easier if you have your stock in order before things get too manic, so get going while you can!

Be sure to stock up in advance with holiday favourites so you have enough to tide you over through the busy shopping season. Find out when partners and suppliers are closing and get what you need before they do. And don't forget to say thank you to your suppliers as well as your customers. A Christmas card or more meaningful gift to them won’t go amiss if you do end up needing a favour late in the day!

Stay on top of employees’ holiday plans

The worst thing for your scheduling—and your staff’s morale—is getting holiday leave mixed up. Either you’ll be left short of cover or someone will be dragged in when they’re not meant to be. However the situation turns out is hardly conducive to a happy holiday environment in the business.

Tools like Findmyshift are perfect for keeping everyone organised and happy with time-off and working shifts displayed on the same schedule. Whichever way you get organised, be sure to be clear and coherent in your approach and your communication so everyone is on the same page.

Keep morale high

When your employees are on their shifts, you’re going to need them keeping productive and focused despite a lot of festive excitement, so making sure they stay enthusiastic despite the challenges is key. Set goals and celebrate successes liberally.

The downtime and cost of a few treats to reward hard work and a job well done will pay for themselves many times over in improved productivity. Remember too that if your staff are customer-facing, first putting them in a good mood could lead to increases in sales of up to 37%.

Take a break

At such a busy time, it’s easy to feel like you need to be present more than ever, to supervise your business’s hopefully increased sales. But it’s easy to burn out if you’re working too hard for too long, and then the company will struggle more from your impacted performance. Your employees will always be looking to you to set an example of how best to manage your energy and focus so don't let them see you become too stressed or distracted.

Be sure to keep yourself rested, spend time with friends and family, and don’t be afraid to step away for a little while if the stress levels get too high. It’s also a great chance to delegate some responsibility and maybe uncover a new manager in the making!

Enjoy the holidays!

At the end of the day, you can plan and prepare all you want, but the most important thing is to have a fun festive period and enjoy the time of year as much as possible because it will all be over before you know it! Happy holidays!

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