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Coping with Christmas

Christmas can bring challenges for fish and chip shops but if you prepare now you can enjoy the celebrations 

Christmas may be the season of goodwill, but for small businesses like fish and chip shops it can also put huge pressure on cash flow. While sales may be increasing, your costs are likely to rise too - increased stock requirements, additional staff to pay, christmas parties and bonuses as well as paying wages early all come into the equation.

Here are our five top tips to keep your cash flowing and your business busy:

1. Monitor cash flow - Make sure you stay on top of your finances, which means keeping track of your costs as well as your takings. Frequent monitoring will ensure any shortfalls in revenue or increases in costs are identified early and allow you to make changes to prices or the menu accordingly. You’ll also be able to see which items are selling and which aren’t, which means you can plan your stock more efficiently.

2. Stock - For some, Christmas will see sales increase, while for others it might be quieter than usual so ensure you have enough stock to meet demand. And do check with your suppliers what dates over the Christmas period they will be delivering as it’s unlikely they will be as frequent. Don’t forget to factor in when the weekends fall as this can take some shops off guard. Remember, fresh fish is often harder to source as boats tend not to go out, so you maybe need to order in some frozen.

3. Forward planning - Some staff may be taking holidays while others will want time off to recover from Christmas parties, so consider your rota well in advance and factor in additional holiday pay. Also, think about any work that needs to be done so that it can be budgeted for and carried out in the new year when business is quieter. And don’t forget to communicate your Christmas opening hours to customers with a poster in the window, a notice on your website and an e-mail to customers.

4. Check your insurance - Are you carrying more stock than normal or employing additional staff? Are you closed for Christmas leaving an empty shop? Make sure you update your insurance company with any changes to make sure you are fully covered. Be mindful that thefts increase at this time of year so take adequate steps such as testing security systems and putting lights on timers. The cold weather can be another hazard, so check your boiler has been serviced and that your pipes are insulated.

5. Promotions - Trade in January can be slow as people cut back on spending and eating, so send out an offer or discount now, dated to the end of January, to entice people in. Put a particular focus on light bites and healthy options.

What to do if you experience a frozen pipe

Switch off the water supply at the stop tap. Check to see if the pipe has burst, then open the affected tap so that water can flow through it as it is melting. Using towels soaked in hot water or a hairdryer on a low setting may help warm the pipes up, but never use a naked flame to achieve this.

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