10-Step End of Year Checklist for Small Businesses

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24.11.2021 Business tips

10-Step End of Year Checklist for Small Businesses

Put these 10 tasks on your to-do list to set yourself up for 2022. 

The busiest time of the year is nearing, with Christmas almost here. As people fill their shopping trolleys with Christmas gifts and treats, retail outlets and hospitality venues are facing a silly season like no other. 

Staff shortages coupled with a pent-up desire to spend and significant Australia Post delays mean shoppers are more likely to shop local than ever, putting additional pressure on smaller retailers. For restauranteurs, this is the time of year that families, friends and colleagues dine in large groups and book venues for functions — both of which present their own challenges, in today’s COVID-safe age. 

With everything that’s going on, it would be easy for 2022 planning to be forgotten. Yet small to medium businesses can be vulnerable during this time of the year; it’s critical that merchants begin preparing for the typical blackout period between January and February, when staff take leave and doors close.  

So, how can your business thrive in the Christmas season? It all comes down to planning and preparation. Whether you’re a retail, hospitality, or service-based business, here’s your end-of-year checklist to help you better prepare for the Christmas rush — and beyond.

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Preparing for the end of the year

1. Set the mood

The impact of music on consumer behaviour is no secret; studies show faster, upbeat tunes with loud, familiar vocals cause diners to take more bites per minute and shoppers to pick up their pace. On the other hand, slower tempos tend to slow diners down and cause shoppers to spend more time considering their purchases. The style of music has an impact, too. Classical music, for example, has been shown to make shoppers more likely to purchase expensive merchandise.

Consider your background music and the impact it has on the customers inside your business. Given the time of year, Christmas tunes are appropriate. Consider curating a playlist of festive songs that appeal to your demographic of customers; whether the tunes are loud and upbeat, or slow and mellow, depends on the outcome you’re aiming for. 

Haven’t got your own? Check out the Zeller Christmas Playlist on Spotify. Save it to your library and use it to set the mood in your own business, or take inspiration from it to create your own.

2. Double-check stock levels 

Retail businesses experience a rush in the weeks leading up to Christmas every year. Merchants and staff likely remember what previous Christmases were like, and already have a plan in place. However, if you are new to business ownership, there are two critical things that you need to do to ensure that you’re well prepared for the Christmas swell.

  1. Check your inventory. Don’t overstock or understock. If you have sales figures from the previous year, review them and take note of any items that have sold well in the last few months. This information should assist you in making sure you have enough products for the Christmas rush.
  2. If you sell goods online, ensure that your website is prepared to handle the increased traffic. Website crashes and timeouts can be a deterrent to customers. Talk to your provider and see if they can increase your capacity over the holiday period. 

Running out of stock, or your website crashing, are two sure-fire ways to miss out on revenue at Christmastime. Ensure you have plenty of products available, as shoppers don’t want to wait for back orders at this time of year. 

For hospitality business owners, the same rule applies: make sure you have enough on hand to get you through the busy dining periods. If you’re running Christmas specials, ensure you’ve ordered enough ingredients to meet demand. 

3. Collect your dues

With supplier shutdowns, office closures and staff going on leave, Christmas might be a headache for some business owners. 

Prepare for the quiet period early by sending out payment reminders to clients with outstanding invoices. Starting early will assist you in receiving cash in your bank account before the holidays. 

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to call and remind clients that payments are due. Zeller Terminal allows you to take over-the-phone payments — a convenient way for your clients to settle their accounts quickly and easily. The easier you make it for your clients to pay you, the faster you’ll get paid — particularly during the busy December period. 

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4. Plan your budget

Cash flow is vital during this time. If you require staff for Christmas trading, look at the budget and work out how many hours and people you can afford before advertising the position.  

Ensure also that you have enough funding to purchase any extra stock that may be needed to replenish the shelves, as well as enough funds in your account to get you through a quieter January. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency fund you can dip into, in case of any unforeseen circumstances. 

Most importantly, send out any invoices as soon as possible and chase them as soon as they are overdue — or even call to remind your clients the day before their invoice is due. You may need to tighten your terms if necessary to ensure that invoices are paid on time. 

5. Get help

If you’re planning on hiring staff, there’s no time like the present. You need to ensure staff are fully trained with product knowledge if you’re a retail business. For hospitality businesses, new hires need to familiarise themselves with the menu and how the service operates.

If ongoing staff training is required, plan to train them in January when it’s quieter. A quick lesson on customer service and how to use your EFTPOS machine is the bare minimum. 

6. Tighten your belt

Look at your business expenses and see if you can identify any ways to save money.  Things like merchant fees can be a considerable expense, for example. Look at your statements and see how much you’re paying. 

Unsure where to find hidden fees on your statement? Read our blog about how to read a merchant statement to ensure you know what you’re really paying. Even small fees like a $40 monthly account keeping fee can add up. Understanding your fixed and variable costs will help you prepare for a potential downturn in trading come the quieter months. 

7. Set 2022 sales goals

Setting goals for 2022 is critical; consider it as a “fail to prepare, then prepare to fail” scenario. Start planning for next year by reviewing this year’s financials, its peaks and troughs, as well as what products, services or offerings stood out and were highly sought after. 

Then, set targets for next year. Whether it’s training staff, planning marketing campaigns, securing inventory or setting sales targets — these goals are crucial for your business’s roadmap to success in 2022. 

Hit the ground running in January

8. Recharge your batteries

It’s been a trying two years. Four in five Australian’s faced burnout in 2020, and 2021 has presented its own challenges. Burnout can be detrimental to you and your business, so use this downtime to take a step back, relax and think about what next year will be like. You don’t want to overwork yourself or your staff, and a timeout will help clear your head and get you in a better mindset for the following year. 

If you are feeling the stress of running your business, try to work out ways to cut down on any unnecessary tasks and delegate where possible in 2022. Having a plan in place to manage your stress will help you avoid burning out. 

9. Declutter the shelves

January is a great time for sales. Shoppers are on the hunt for bargains, making this the perfect time to declutter your inventory and make room for your 2022 collection.  

Work out your discount strategy now and advertise it early, whilst shoppers are still in a buying frenzy. Don’t feel the need to wait for January 1st — take advantage of the foot traffic through your business and spread the word about your upcoming sale. 

10. Track your sales performance

It’s imperative to know how your sales are tracking, especially against your set goals. You want to ensure you’re hitting targets, and so too are your staff. Having a platform where you can track sales daily and manage staff performance is key to success. 

Zeller Dashboard will help track sales on a day, month, year basis, allowing you to compare previous figures, staff targets and view transactions in real-time, whilst also monitoring business performance by location.  

Remember, it's critical to prepare your business for beyond the Christmas holiday period. Set yourself up for a successful 2022 by cutting excess costs, setting targets and identifying growth opportunities now. For more handy tips to help your business succeed, sign up for the Zeller Business Blog