Now is the time to start getting prepared. Here are some tips:

Get on top of any cash flow issues

“I don’t believe anyone has experienced a year like 2020,” says David O’Toole, Managing Director of Designer Financial Services.

“But there’s still a strong sense of optimism, with customers wanting to be out again doing things they missed during the lockdown.”

To get ready for the end of year period, one of the first things to take care of is your financial arrangements; you need to make sure cash flow is under control, he says.

According to O’Toole, that includes chasing unpaid invoices and doing a revenue forecast to make sure you have enough money coming in to buy stock now. It’s important this is on the top of your priority list, as some suppliers may be closed during the holiday period, he says.

Keep in mind that end of year can also come with some extra expenses, such as holiday rate pay. So now is a great time to set aside some cash in the lead up to the holiday rush, O’Toole adds.

Think of any extra inventory you’ll need

Pasquale Trimboli, who co-owns hatted restaurant Italian and Sons and Mezzalira Ristorante in Canberra, says because his restaurants are trading well and paying their bills, they’ve had no major problems with supply. However, during the 25% trading restrictions, their stock of premium wines was low.

Now that business is starting to return to usual in Canberra and stock is filtering back through, Trimboli has made sure to organise enough stock for his wine cellar in preparation for the increase in customers he’s expecting over the coming months.

O’Toole suggests small businesses that need extra inventory, but don’t have the cash on hand, consider putting some business finance in place to see them through the busy period.

Get more staff on deck

If you’re expecting an increase in trade, now is the time to start thinking about resourcing your business with the right people to ensure they’re trained up and familiar with your business come the busy time.

While Italian & Sons and Mezzalira have kept all their staff on the payroll during the pandemic, with some help from the first round of JobKeeper, they’re currently having difficulty getting additional, qualified employees, says Trimboli.

Small owners who need assistance getting new hires might be able to make use of the Federal Government’s recently announced JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme.

The scheme offers $200 a week per eligible 16-to-29-year-old hired, and $100 a week for eligible 30-to-35-year-olds, under the proviso they work at least 20 hours per week. However, to be eligible, one of the criteria is that the employee must have received JobSeeker payments, Youth Allowance or Parenting Payment for at least one of the previous three months at the time of hiring.

Many small businesses might usually rely on a flood of transient foreign workers to get them through busy periods, but as this likely won’t be the case this year due to border restrictions, talent sourcing might need a fresh approach.

A cost-effective recruitment method, says O’Toole, is to turn to social media platforms.

“If this is not one of your business strengths, then engage job boards or recruitment specialists,” he adds.

Now is the time to innovate

If small businesses have learnt anything from the pandemic, it’s that an online presence can be essential.

Trimboli’s restaurant launched a fully licensed online pick-up and delivery service and ready-made meal kits to boost income during the lockdown period. He also dipped his toe into wholesale and retail trade and computerised all systems, from dockets to ordering stock.

Trimboli has done the hard yards early. Now he’s more prepared to face the end of year surge with ease.

Final EOY tips

If you’re after some quick ways to start preparing for EOY, O’Toole shares some more nuggets of his advice:

  • Improve your bottom-line by reviewing your current prices, upselling where possible, negotiating a better deal with your suppliers and cutting out unnecessary costs where possible (for example, a restaurant could offer a streamlined menu).
  • Ensure your website is optimised for a potential increase in web traffic and linked to your social media accounts. This will drive engagement and capture customer details in a database. This way, during the rush, you can grow your client following.
  • Considering closing over the summer? It has been a long, hard year, so many small business owners might be hoping to take a break. “If your business provides products or services that experience the EOY rush, you should be 100% committed to making the most of it,” O’Toole says.
  • However, he’s quick to add that mental health concerns need to come first. “If you are going to push through to the end of year, give yourself an incentive and book in some holiday dates for early 2021.”