If you are a retailer then you know exactly what I am talking about. September is in many ways the last month before the seasonal storm begins and that is for retailers and accountants alike.
Accountants are hoping to get as many tax returns done as possible before the Christmas break and the January mania that follows it. Retailer are preparing for heavy footfall, massive online traffic and hoping their stock levels have been gauged perfectly. Autumn long nights represent the perfect opportunity for you to get your books ready for the seasonal peaks.
There are many challenges placed on businesses and polished accounting records could be the difference between succeeding and failing when the shopping frenzy begins. Now is the time to give your business a much needed winter service.
Cash flow management has to be meticulous. From careful bookkeeping accurate cash flow forecasts can be made. Seasonal businesses can anticipate when heavier inflows will come in and make sure that outflows are scheduled to occur at the same times. It is also a good opportunity in many cases to create a reserve for the off-season ebbs in cash flow.
The challenge of managing inventory will also rely on accounting transparency. The yearly cash flow forecasts will take into account the stock bought and shifted in the last seasonal periods but they cannot predict fluctuations. Detailed sales and inventory plans need making before the season begins and are often done months in advance to ensure timely delivery. You have bought the stock, anticipated the seasonal shopping habits – have you brought your bookkeeping up to date.
It is September, another month and you will be in the thick of it give or take a few days/weeks. Your business will be stronger next year when inventories are being created if you do not have to project back information and make everything balance after the fact. Do it now while it is fresh in your mind and you are not worn out from the Christmas rush.
The last thing has very little to do with accounting but is essential for retail businesses at exactly this time of year. Seasonal workers usually get taken on in September or October. There are increasing commercial pressures which can lead to corners being cut. Make sure you spend the right amount of time interviewing and training staff that will fit in with your team’s ethos and work ethic.
Seasonal workers represent your business alongside permanent workers. Christmas represents a huge opportunity and it is potentially the only time a customer visits a store. Your customer service needs to be at its best so those newest to the team need the right incentives, training and motivation to deliver just that. Spend time training seasonal workers to the right standard otherwise the cost to the business could irreparable.
It is time to get the Christmas stock out but before you do make sure your accounting is top notch. Your will impress your accountants when you take your books in at the beginning of January and you will impress yourself to boot! Good business is built upon good accounting – there is just no way around it and yes we are bias but you know it makes sense.
Put the long nights to good use – crack open a bottle of wine or pour out a can of Fosters and catch up with your record keeping so you do not have a mountain to climb in three months’ time. Do it at the end of the month until the end of the year and you will be laughing come January. Best of luck – great bookkeeping is what we accountants dream about!