Slow months can be a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it can give the organization a break from the constant go, go, go…and a curse because slow months means less revenue. Between the “beating the heat” mentality, the work-life balance and the anticipation of taking a break, it isn’t unheard of to take your foot off the gas a little. However, ask yourself…when you are coasting are you usually going downhill? Or uphill? While we all deserve some breaks, it is still important to have a plan for your slower months so you can continuously improve on your customer experience, get refreshed and complete tasks at the same time. Throughout this article I will share with you some tips and tricks that will ensure the well-deserved break time in combination with completing tasks that continue to create the best customer experience.
The months go by so quickly, that before we know it summer is here. Some of the things we said we wanted to do, didn’t get done and by the time we put actions in place to complete some tasks, we’re busy again.
Tip #1: Plan ahead. Set time aside (literally put it in your calendar) to schedule what times are better than others to work on said tasks. Are there certain months of the year? Certain days of the week? Certain days of the year you are historically slower? Depending on where you are located, there may be school holidays that affect your workflow. Take that into consideration too.
Tip #2: Prioritize. If you have seen some of the presentations I have done (Route Pros Members…certainly) we discuss the Eisenhauer Matrix often. It is far to easy to bounce from task to task, regardless of priority. Then, at the end of our workday we are crunching to get some of the “must do” items done. If you are wondering how you can avoid this…implement the Eisenhauer matrix. What is so urgent it needs to get done now? What are some things you can schedule to get done, later? What are some things you can delegate to others? Finally, what are things you can eliminate completely. An extra hint…scrolling through social media can be fun, creating a post for the company and watching the audience grow, is exciting! However, if you take an extra 44 minutes looking at other social media that is irrelevant, all you have done now is wasted some time. Eliminate that.
Tip #3: Give your team a blueprint. I’m sure we all know the purpose of a blueprint, right? Blueprints help us identify what items go where and what structures are needed to make for a strong foundation. Essentially a map to ensure items are in the right place for a strong foundation (and then some). Team members don’t necessarily enjoy surprises, if you communicate when you’ll work on your plan, the objectives and reasoning why it’s so important, your team will be more likely to work the plan. Give them the blueprint and see the results!
Tip #4: Turn tedious into tremendous. We tend to dread the repetitive, time consuming tasks and when we’re busy, we really dread it. During your slower time periods, work on the tedious tasks. There may be packages you give to new clients, brochures you had out and even “Thank You” to customers. The best time to work on these items is when it’s slower, because they tend to be the things that get put on the back burner. Then, when it’s busy again, you won’t have to skimp on the customer experience because you didn’t have enough handouts in inventory prepared. You will be more than prepared therefore, creating a tremendous experience for your customers.
For the 5th and final tip: Train, Train, Train. There is no such thing as being “done” with training. I remember a few years back I was talking about business with my father-in-law and I said “Oh, yes, so and so is done with her training.” He responded “Oh, I didn’t know people stopped learning.” (With a smile on his face) That was an ah-ha moment for me. Of course, no one is “done” with training. You may have completed your one-on-one training years ago…but what about sharpening your skills? Or teaching others around you best practices? Or even having practice rounds for situational circumstances? The slower time of the year is the perfect time to sharpen skills. Get creative and have fun with it. In my experience, this comes full circle. Everyone gets a better understanding of the different departments, they understand the “why” to the processes and how it affects others. All while learning how to increase the customer experience in simple, yet important steps.
If you’re reading this and saying to yourself…we’ve got a pretty good plan in place for our slower months…that’s great! Not everyone does…and, I challenge you to push the pedal a little harder. Pinpoint one or two objectives team members can work on while it’s slower and delegate the tedious tasks you have. We all need breaks at time, if we schedule easy and important tasks throughout the slow times it will be win-win all around.