The holiday season is right around the corner! And, while you may feel like you’re just getting over the summer heat, it’s time to start preparing for the holidays before things get hectic for your business.

Black Friday falls on Nov. 23 this year, followed by Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24. This means you have less than one month to get ready for the start of what may be your busiest time of the year. Making sure your staff is prepared is a great place to start; they’ll be a huge part of your holiday success. Here are some tips to get you on your way to your best holiday season yet.

Solidify the Schedule

The holidays are a busy time for everyone. Ask your staff to submit any time off requests by a certain date. This helps you and your employees to plan ahead for changes to their regular schedule. Having your schedule set in advance will also help determine if you need to bring in extra seasonal help. If you do need additional staff, make sure you’re taking the time to bring in trustworthy employees to protect your business.

Once you have availability squared away, you’ll want to make sure to staff up for heavy-traffic holidays such as Black Friday (Nov. 23) and Super Saturday (Dec. 22). Here are some other days that could bring in high traffic, based on RetailNext’s 2017 data:

  • Saturday, Dec. 8
  • Saturday, Dec. 15
  • Sunday, Dec. 16
  • Wednesday, Dec. 19
  • Thursday, Dec. 20
  • Friday, Dec. 21
  • Monday, December 24
  • Wednesday, Dec. 26

Training Refresh

Now is the time to refresh employees on policies and procedures. Yes, training can be time consuming, but a refresher now can save a lot of headache when things get busy. “Firm up your processes and procedures,” says Tony Pica, vice president of business services here at Navy Federal. “Whether it’s operational procedures or simply customer service processes, best practices should be established and employees should be made aware. Making sure employees know these expectations will help ensure that things operate smoothly.”

Payroll Preparations

Holiday season means present-buying season for your employees. While payroll may not be top of mind, it’s important to make sure you’ve properly planned. Holidays that fall during the week can mean a delay in payroll processing. Make sure to determine if there will be any change in your payroll, and if there is, give employees advance notice so they can plan for their holiday expenses.

Outsourcing payroll can also be a huge help. “It’s no secret that payroll takes up a significant amount of time,” says Pica. “Using an outside payroll service can help free up some much-needed time to focus on other important tasks during the busy season.”

Whether you process payroll yourself or outsource, planning ahead and having payroll squared away can save you from scrambling to get it done at the last minute.

Promote Teamwork & Provide Encouragement

The holiday season is a time when all employees are expected to pitch in and work together. When things get busy, employees may need to wear many different hats and work together in ways they don’t generally do. Encourage that teamwork; if employees see a co-worker struggling, encourage them to step in and help.

We often ask a lot of our employees during the holidays to go above and beyond their normal duties. As an extra little morale boost once the holiday season starts, it’s a nice gesture to surprise them with a small holiday treat or other acknowledgement. These little gestures can make a huge difference in employee morale when stress is high.

Yes, the holidays will be busy—there’s no way around it. But you have a great team; remember—you hired them. And, as long as you take the time to prepare your employees, they’ll support you through the holidays. Here’s to your business’ most successful year yet!