A business rarely follows a linear pattern. You’ll have days where the lobby feels like a ghost town and others where the same space looks like a sardine can. Supply, demand, and interest all fluctuate, and your business has to be prepared for the slow season and busy seasons.
Luckily, most businesses can tell you when their busiest time of year is. This allows business owners to plan and prepare for that specific time each year. Otherwise, the sudden influx of customers might cause them to fall right on their behinds.
Whether you’re a new business preparing for that first rush or a seasoned company trying to become more efficient, there’s almost always something you can do to plan better for busier seasons. Here are a few tips that can help you out in the near future:
1. Set Up Automation
Any tasks or processes that you can automate will make life much easier when business starts to pick up. Those tasks will continue to be completed without needing any supervision. Instead of getting more people on staff to keep those processes running, they can help control the rush while they complete themselves.
Think of what aspects of your business could be automated if they aren’t already. For example, lots of appointment-based businesses have automated their scheduling. Customers can browse booking options and create their own appointment without an employee needing to give them extra attention. Staff members can more fully focus on the customers that are present for their appointments instead.
Paperwork, such as billing and record-keeping, is another example of automation that works for businesses of all shapes and sizes. There are also automation tools for project management, supply chains, and even human resources. Experiment with some solutions and see what you can do to lighten the load on your business.
2. Create Projections
One type of automation that can be extremely helpful during your busiest months is data analytics. All you need to do is set up a system or plug in a software program that constantly tracks the data your business generates on a daily basis. This can include everything from sales data, customer demographics information, social media outreach, and even the changing prices of the materials you use.
With this data at your disposal, you can make predictions and projections for the coming months, focusing especially on your busiest seasons. Based on previous data, you can see which of your products and services are in the highest demand during the busy season. With this information, you can concentrate on producing and preparing what you need for that expected demand.
At the very least, use this upcoming busy season to generate your data. When the next busy season comes around, you’ll have enough data to make accurate assumptions and game plans to deal with the business. The more data you have, the more effective it will be when implemented into your strategy.
3. Get Staffing in Order Now
If you have a general idea of when your busy season is, you should start arranging your staffing calendar now. If you wait until the last minute to try and get a schedule pinned down, you’ll likely run into more resistance. You’ll have employees who have made vacation plans already, who can’t work extra shifts, and who have already gotten their time off approved.
Start making arrangements for your busy season as soon as possible. Ask who is willing to work certain shifts and consider increasing the number of people you have on the clock on a single day. Be sure not to overwork any of your employees unless they’re specifically asking for overtime hours. Otherwise, you might drive some of your best workers away, making the next busy season that much more difficult.
One option a lot of businesses like to use is hiring part-time, seasonal workers. For instance, delivery companies such as Amazon and UPS will hire drivers to work throughout December when the volume of packages is at its peak. This ensures that they have the roster necessary to handle the influx at work without having to create long-term commitments with a bunch of new hires.
4. Stay Competitive
Your business won’t be the only one that’s making plans for the upcoming busy season. Every other company in your area and industry will be making similar preparations. You can’t just wait for the busy season to come to you. You need to take advantage of the high consumer activity and stay competitive in your field so that you get your fair share of the market.
Think of ways to set your business apart from the rest during the busiest time of the year. Let’s pretend you’re a clothing store that gets really busy right before the new school year. With so many families looking for back-to-school outfits, how do you get your threads to stand out? If you successfully planned out a promotion over the summer, you can release it right before the fall of the year — with full effectiveness.
Other layers of competitiveness are pricing, inventory availability, store hours, and customer service. The more you can boost up these aspects of your organization before the busy season hits, the more success you’ll have when it finally arrives.
5. Start Training Early
If you work in retail, you know how crazy certain times of the year can be. Black Friday is one of the best examples of the busy season being a completely different animal than working on a regular day. You can’t expect a new employee to take that pressure head-on without any sort of preparation, nor should you want them to try.
If your busiest season is in the summer, don’t wait until beach weather to begin your training. Use the slow winter months to give your team the training they need to tackle future challenges head-on. Trying to fit in training during the busiest time of year is just asking for more stress and fatigue to build up.
There are lots of different training regimens that could be useful, even for tenured employees. Customer service training is always a good review, especially when the high stress of the busy season makes it more difficult to keep composure. You can also offer sales training or instruction on how to use a new system you’re hoping to get integrated before the busy season arrives.
6. Take Care of the Little Things
There are a lot of small details that may not be considered essential to your business but are still important. These little items are often left on the back burner when your business is being slammed by activity. Those little details can quickly pile up and become bigger nuisances if left unchecked.
Instead of stressing about tiny details during your busiest hours, take the time during your slow season to get ahead. Get some deep cleaning done, finish your file organization, and fix up the office before it’s too busy. Even the most basic things can be a lifesaver when you’re too swamped to even think about those little things.
Nothing is going to stop the busy season from arriving on your business’s doorstep. How successful you are is entirely dependent on the planning and preparation you put in during the months prior. Get started today so that when your busy season is here, there’s nothing stopping you from reaching new heights.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Taryn Elliott; Pexels; Thank you.