By Dave Young

As a business owner before you opened your business, you developed a plan for success. Getting ready to close for the holidays, or a temporary shutdown (TSD), requires a similar amount of attention and planning. You will need a check list or possibly even a committee to help coordinate your closing, based on length of and reason for the closure.

Communication is key when planning a temporary shutdown; you must contact all staff, vendors, contractors, even customers. The goal during temporary shutdowns is NOT TO LOSE BUSINESS! As a result, you must ensure that you are doing all you can to manage possible complaints before and after the shutdown occurs.

TSD Check List #1: Date and Time

One of the best strategies for this is the noon time frame leaving the half day before your temporary shutdown date. An example of this is if your TSD is Black Friday on November 29, and you will also be closed on Thanksgiving Thursday, November 28. Then, noon on Wednesday, November 27, would be your TSD date.

TSD Check List #2: Contact List

Create your contact list for notification of change of schedule and hours of operation: This list is not necessarily in order but should cover all essential personnel, customers and associates:

  1. Customers2. Call Service
  2. Part/Full time Staff
  3. Management / Staff Key Holders
  4. Vendors for Deliveries
  5. Contractors
  6. Security Company
  7. First Line Management
  8. Executive Staff
  9. Stockholders or other persons of interest
  10. Police Department
  11. Fire Department.
  12. Phone Company / Internet Provider / Utilities
  13. Bank
  14. Neighboring Companies

TSD Check List #3 – Communicating the TSD Date

Start announcing your TSD date in your emails, voice messages, and invoices 30 days prior to your TSD start date.
If your TSD date for Thanksgiving is November 28. Starting on October 28, you would have a voice message reminder:

Thank you for contacting our office. We are eager to assist you and would like to remind everyone that in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be temporarily shutting down on noon or November 27– We will resume our normal hours Monday morning at 8:00 am. Thank you for allowing us to serve you and yours.

Additional suggestions are:
1. Place this message at the bottom of your invoices starting October 28.
2. Post a video from management to your customers on social media.
3. During check out have your cashiers mention this to customers.
4. Conduct public service announcements in your store periodically throughout the days leading up to November 28.
5. Post signs in lobby, waiting rooms, lounges, bathrooms and other common places of your business.
6. Use banner pop ups on your website. You can set these to pop up when your visitors land on your website.
7. Include inside employee checks or direct deposit receipts, and you can use a different color envelope to draw their attention to the important message inside.
8. Use your emails distribution list If you send a message out, give a coupon or special offer to get them to acknowledge their receipt. This is also a great way to check for correct and active email address.
9. Post entertaining messages or videos on all your social media accounts. Consider going live on Instagram or Facebook the day before the TSD.
10. Send follow up reminders – Keep in mind, just because you sent it, doesn’t mean that they received it!

TSD Check List #4 – Backup Electronics

Any devices that rely on electricity, like your fax machines, internet, or servers, should be backed up.  In fact, it is a good idea to schedule automatic backups at least quarterly. In your backup and storage centers, you want to have an emergency point of contact and have this site routinely serviced.

Reducing the power during the holidays, is worth taking the time to do. This is an area where you want to have clear instructions for the person to contact in the event of a problem, so be sure that your answering service is adequately informed.

In addition to having your services and devices backed up, you may want to remember that some equipment NEVER gets turned off. There are some pieces of office equipment you shouldn’t shut off, but they can be set in other ways to reduce energy consumption.

  • Phone system (forward your calls but do not shut them off)
  • Servers and backup systems (recommended this is done on a schedule either monthly or quarterly)
  • Refrigeration units (if your shutdown is for prolong periods of time, lowering your refrigerating can be a cost saver)
  • Thermostat
  • Security systems (I recommend having your security systems check the week before every temporary shutdown and every quarter)You want to ensure your phone numbers are correct, and that there are no glitches in your systems.

TSD Check List #5: Emergency Contact List

Once you have placed your notifications in their proper sequence you need to look at emergency points of contact starting with you (the owner) and working your way down. Situations that occur can range from:

• Police arrive at your business and find the rear door open.
• Police find a broken window leaving your business unsecured
• Police respond to a burglary alarm at your business.
• Fire department contacts you because fire alarm is going off.
• Bad weather is setting off alarms.
• You or your staff needs access to the building after hours for personal belongings.
• There is an animal loose inside your offices and building.
• Passerby notices smoke inside your office.
• An employee contacting you to notify you of a death in their family.

Below are a few examples of possible situations and recommended action:

1. If police find an open door, they will contact the on-duty manager (for small business that might be you). That person will arrive and conduct a walk-through of the property, then reset the alarm, if you have one, and secure the building.

2. If the fire department responds to an alarm, they will enter your building to make sure it is safe. You will receive a notification from the alarm company to respond. Once it is cleared, document the incident, and reset alarm.

3. If lights are on in the lobby, security will be notified and then the on-duty manager is called to respond. They will conduct walkthrough of the property, secure the office, and reset the alarm.

When establishing your emergency point of contact list, your policies should have a sequence for documenting an emergency call sheet (ECS).

Who is called?
Who called you?
What number is used?
What time were they called?
Who is it documenting it?
Who is checking on status?

Example of an ECS:
Police / Fire / Emergency Notification:
1. On Duty manager
2. Next Day Supervisor
3. Staff Effected
4. Final written report and next day notification to business owner

TSD Check List #6: Opening Announcements

Once you have had a successful shutdown, you can focus on the reopening. You should use this opportunity to showcase and announce to everyone that you’re open for business.

Having a plan in place during these temporary shutdowns, regardless of the reason, is crucial. A temporary shutdown can be a positive experience: It can help provide a rebirth of your business and one more reason to reconnect with your customers and the community you serve.