How to mitigate the effects of the summer holidays on your business
Use the summer holidays to your advantage
Schools out, the weather is heating up and that sticky uncomfortable feeling is resonating throughout the office and into your business. Company owners are worrying about staff shortages and a potential downturn in sales. Staff are anxious about getting their holiday requests approved, booking trips and managing their kids over the summer.
Regardless of the size or the type of business you own the summer holidays will cause headaches. Staff take time off; customers tend to buy less and parents get caught up juggling the work life balance struggle.
It’s a tough time for all but bearing in mind summer does come around every year these points shouldn't come as a surprise. So regardless of how you feel about them, being prepared and planning how to mitigate the problems with the least amount of stress is the key to keeping your business running.
For small business owners staff absences, whether they are pre planned or notified at the last minute ultimately costs money. The one question you will be battling with, is when are your staff going to take time off.
Unless you have a crystal ball the only way to get an answer to this question is to ask. Good communication with your staff is important. Of course, not everyone in the office will be able to take time off at the same time. So, liaise with your staff to seek out who wants time off and when.
Set out your holiday policy in your staff handbook and release this to your staff in advance of the summer holidays. Remind staff to provide plenty of notice so to avoid disappointment and make them aware that not all requests will be approved.
Not only does this period cause absence hassle it also affects the overall attitude of your staff. They tend to be preoccupied. Whether they are counting down the days to their holiday or sat wishing they could afford one, everyone’s heads are focusing on things that don't relate to the job at hand.
And for those staff left effectively holding the fort whilst others are sunning themselves by the pool resentment can easily set in. Try to give extra attention to those remaining. Offer them a little leeway with trips out of the office or allowing them to work flexibly.
Some businesses are affected by other company closures which restricts access to products and services. In Europe, companies tend to shut down for the whole of the summer period. Manufacturers, suppliers and service providers take time off to spend time with their families and to get away from work. This action is less common in the UK but it still occurs.
Ensure you are aware of any closures that may affect your business. Buy stock and products in advance. Contact service providers to understand their arrangements and who you should contact if you need support. Find out when they will be back up and running business as usual. Get ahead by communicating with your customers to let them know that orders and services may be disrupted during this time.
Just like employees, customers also get distracted over the summer. Spending money on the usual items may not be at the forefront of their minds. Some businesses should be in their element and find that sales boom during this time if they are offering the right products. But a simple thing as a bad summer could easily affect business leaving them with less sales than expected.
Other businesses may find that sales drop considerably. But your main focus should always remain on offering the same level of customer service you would usually deliver. Don't let your own personal or business issues impact on the quality you offer as this could affect your sales beyond the summer.
The summer holidays mean a big set of problems for working parents. With children having on average six to seven weeks off from school, it begs the question what do working parents do. As the owner of the business you may fit into this camp yourself and can therefore emphasise with the struggles this causes. If not, it’s worth being compassionate, your employees will thank you for it.
With children away from school, parents need to decide how they will manage caring for their kids and how they can reduce the effect on their work. Every parent knows that the cost of holidays during this time are sky high. The prices double if not triple making a summer vacation either at home or abroad for some unaffordable.
Days versus weeks
Instead of taking a block of time off your working Mums and Dads may instead need days interspersed throughout the week. Many parents share the time off. This may create extra challenges for you. Obviously, it’s the responsibility of the parents as it comes with the territory but a helping hand from employers will be welcomed.
From a parent's perspective they need to take the lead and put plans in order. Children's play schemes, child minders and other activity centres are often running during the summer to help parents manage. But these cost money and not all parents wages allow for this extra expense.
The bottom line is that parents need support and help to strike a balance for managing both their children and work. If your business allows for it see if it’s possible to offer flexible working or allow parents to work from home.
Basically, it’s tough for business owners, employees and working parents during the summer time. Business owners have the right to do what they can to keep their business running and remain profitable. Parents deserve to spend quality time with their children without the pressure of work hanging over their heads. And employees without kids have the right to take time off too.
It’s a case of employers, employees and suppliers all working together during this difficult time to find ways that work. Planning is a key element and as the business owner you have the ultimate responsibility to ensure it works for everyone.
Don't let yourself get disheartened if sales are lower than normal. The summer holidays are only for a limited amount of time. It's short enough to find other things to do but long enough to feel like you and your team are sitting around twiddling your thumbs.
Instead use the time to your advantage. Be mindful that when the summer holidays are over you will be rushing head long into potentially the busiest period of the year, Christmas. Businesses tend to start their Christmas planning campaigns in July so factor this into your strategy and look beyond the summer and into the future.
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