What do salons, consultancies, and home service providers all have in common? This question may seem like the prime setup for a joke, but there’s no punchline to look forward to. Although the above industries may seem worlds apart, they share one common need: calendar scheduling.
Many businesses use scheduling approaches that are, unfortunately, rife with inefficiencies. If the scheduling processes you utilize for your business are ineffective, they could translate to disgruntled customers and vanished profits. But there’s no need to despair! Here are six ways you can eliminate scheduling inefficiencies in your business.
Inefficiency #1: Multiple Calendars
It’s natural to want to keep your personal and professional calendars separate so co-workers can’t meddle in your private affairs. But using multiple calendars can muddy your scheduling processes and make it much more difficult to manage your time effectively.
When you can’t view all your calendars at once, you’re more likely to accidentally create scheduling conflicts. This could lead to embarrassment down the road. It’s unprofessional to cancel a meeting with a client because you scheduled a doctor’s appointment at the same time.
The Solution: Combine Multiple Calendars in One Location
Use scheduling software that combines multiple calendars in one location to streamline your scheduling processes and avoid unwanted conflicts. Look for software that aggregates multiple calendars in one place. This will remove the need to hop between calendars when scheduling meetings, appointments, and employee shifts.
To work around privacy issues, choose scheduling software that allows you to set viewing permissions for calendar events. This feature will help you keep your personal calendar events (and even professional meetings) out of view from prying eyes.
Inefficiency #2: Staff Shortages
Staff shortages are nothing new for most industries, but they’ve become more prevalent in recent years. Globally, there is an alarming shortage of workers to fill available jobs. A high “quits rate,” a large segment of retiring workers, and other factors are contributing to current staff shortages.
While many of these factors are outside of your control as an employer, you can still take action. You can’t control global staff shortages, but you can take steps to make sure your business is adequately staffed.
The Solution: Build a Healthy Staff Pool
When you run a scheduling-based business, it’s imperative to have enough team members to make and keep appointments. The best way to do this is to build a healthy staff pool from the start. Ensure your hiring process effectively weeds out flaky and irresponsible applicants so you’re left with the cream of the crop.
Once you have the right team in place, you’ll need to take steps to retain them. Regular raises, paid time off, and corporate recognition events can go a long way toward improving employee retention rates. But beyond these incentives, you should go above and beyond to support the mental health and well-being of your employees. Encourage work-life balance and stress management to boost morale and keep team members happy where they are.
Inefficiency #3: Overscheduling
Overscheduling is a common problem across multiple industries. But this method of doing business has real-world consequences that can be devastating to both your business and your staff. Forcing employees to work long hours (more than 55 hours per week) leads to hundreds of thousands of deaths annually. Don’t contribute to this statistic by intentionally overscheduling your team members.
Beyond the hefty health risks to your staff, overscheduling also poses a direct risk to your business. Overworking your employees will eventually cause burnout and increase the likelihood of people calling in sick when they’re not. If you consistently overwork your employees, they’re also more likely to quit. This could lead to missed events and rearranged schedules, which can frustrate your customers and impact your bottom line.
The Solution: Give Employees Adequate Time Between Shifts
If you want maximum efficiency from your employees (which will translate to improved customer satisfaction), you can’t overschedule them. Just like you, your employees need adequate rest to function optimally.
There are several things you can do to avoid overworking your employees. Start by building a culture of care at work. Let your team members know you’re concerned about their well-being and want to help them create a healthy work-life balance. Then follow through on that sentiment by giving employees adequate time to rest between shifts. Aim to schedule 12-hour breaks between employee shifts at a minimum.
Inefficiency #4: Lack of Availability
Many businesses employ both full-time and part-time employees. Some even have a hybrid work model that allows workers to alternate between remote and in-office work. Variations in work schedules can make it hard to fill staffing gaps during certain times of the day.
Lack of availability may become even more pronounced during the holidays when employees want to take extra time off work. Challenges with staff availability can lead to scheduling issues with customers. If you can’t accommodate your customers’ scheduling needs, you may end up losing their business.
The Solution: Hire a Well-Balanced Team
To avoid the pervasive issue of staffing gaps, hire a well-balanced team. Make sure some employees are consistently scheduled for daytime hours while others are on the calendar for nighttime shifts. When hiring part-time employees, choose team members who are able to work alternating days, so you always have adequate coverage.
If you anticipate that your existing employees will be less available during the holidays, plan ahead. Hire seasonal employees to help you get through the busy season while your full-time employees schedule more time off.
Inefficiency #5: Last-Minute Absences
If there’s one thing that’s certain in life, it’s that those unexpected things happen. Medical emergencies, illnesses, and deaths in the family can interfere with the most carefully planned schedules. Employees may call in sick at the last minute or fail to show up, leaving your customers high and dry.
The worst thing you can do when faced with a last-minute employee absence is panic or lose your temper. Your time is better spent figuring out how you’ll find someone else to fill the shift. Your primary goals should be to keep customers happy and avoid canceling client meetings, if possible.
The Solution: Offer Incentives to Fill the Shift
Finding staff members to fill unexpected absences doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth. If you offer incentives such as extra time off or holiday pay, employees will be more willing to step in. You can also check your schedule to see who else has a shift that day. Then see if they’d be willing to come in a few hours earlier or later to fill the vacancy.
Inefficiency #6: Disorganization
Disorganization is one of the most common scheduling inefficiencies businesses have. If you’re using outdated methods to schedule customer meetings and employee shifts, it’s probably time for a change.
Gone are the days when businesses used paper calendars and pencils to jot down meetings. These methods are not only inefficient, but they’re a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re relying on old-fashioned methods to create and manage multiple calendar events and meetings.
The Solution: Use Calendar Scheduling Software
Modern scheduling software now reigns supreme for scheduling-based businesses, and it’s easy to see why. The best online calendar programs are user-friendly and versatile and make it easy to avoid double-booking. They’re also capable of merging multiple calendars so you can see all of your professional and personal engagements at once.
Some scheduling software programs have additional features, such as analytics, to show which clients you spend the most time with. This feature can be helpful for prioritizing time with your most productive and profitable clients.
Don’t let your business get bogged down with scheduling inefficiencies that can negatively impact customer satisfaction and employee morale. Use these tips to streamline your scheduling processes and make sure you always have sufficient staff members to keep meetings on the calendar.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by energepic.com; Pexels; Thank you!