The Holiday Specials – Episode 1 Special Report
It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to holiday! In the first of our series of three videos around holidays and the impact they can have, we’re preparing the business to manage through the holiday season…
Hi and welcome to this special series of Baranov TV, and a series of three episodes around holidays.
We’re at that time of year now where people are starting to think about going off on holiday and as business owners we need to really make sure that the business is set up in the right way to manage without us and with people perhaps in the team going off on holiday. That’s episode one.
Episode two is about setting up your business to make sure that your team can cope without you around for a week, two weeks.
And episode three is to try and overcome the seasonality within a business. Many businesses have that period of time when it’s really busy and then another time of the year, it’s really quite quiet and there are ways of trying to overcome that and making the best use of the downtime and being able to cope in the busy periods.
So without further ado, episode one as I said is about preparing the business for the holiday period.
We always hear and we always find ourselves that during the holiday season, so probably sort of, school holidays over the summer in particular, from the end of July through to probably the first week or so of September, things really go quiet.
Decisions take a lot longer to be made. So if you’re sending a proposal to somebody they won’t necessarily be as prompt in responding as they would otherwise be. That can actually make quite a fundamental difference to your pipeline within a business.
It can have a really significant effect on your cashflow because you’ll be getting less deposits, you’ll be finishing less jobs because you’ll be starting less and therefore you’ll be billing less so you’ll be getting less cash through the door. Also there is probably an impact within your own business in terms of productivity because you won’t be at full strength because being holiday season, you’ll have people out on holiday as well. You’ll have people covering and people just not there to actually get the work through.
So, what can you do to overcome some of those things?
- Well for starters, you need to try and make sure that you’ve got a cash buffer. If you know in advance, or you predict in advance that you’re going to have less people getting the jobs done and you’re going to have a longer lead time and less cash coming in than you want to make sure that you’ve got a buffer to carry you through so that you just don’t have to be worrying as much about the cash situation.
- You also need to make sure that you have a really solid followup process. So if you send out a proposal or if you’ve an initial meeting with somebody you’re really following up promptly. Not harassing them but just following up promptly and making sure that everything that you’re suggesting you’ll do, you’re doing and you’re really getting back to people quickly because you don’t want to be causing that delay in that pipeline process. And automating as much of that as you can.
- You need to make sure that your followup process for getting your payments in is absolutely on it as well. You may not have seen but we have a blog post out recently which is all about getting to the cash faster and there are elements in there that most businesses can deploy to make sure that that cash actually does get into their bank account faster. That’s things like direct debits, standing orders and just making sure that you’re getting your invoices out of the door promptly as well.
- Make sure that your processes are documented. So that if somebody is having to cover somebody else being on holiday, it’s very easy for them to do so. It’s brilliant to use for a holiday but also the value really kicks in if somebody is off sick. I know that’s unforeseen. Obviously you can make sure that the business can still function. (Take a look at this episode of BaranovTV for more details.)
- Consider having an answering service in place. You don’t have to use them all of time, and I really wouldn’t suggest setting them up in the few days before you go away, But if you’ve got an answering service on standby you can at least have the peace of mind that if your team is busy, those new calls and your customers are being answered and dealt with professionally and effectively. You can normally designate VIPs so that those people come straight through to the team. Other people would have messages taken and emails sent through so they’re dealt with on a slightly lower priority, but you know that they’re being answered promptly and nothing’s getting missed.
- Also, a really good idea is just to warn your customers and clients that you’re going to be away. That pre-warns them that actually you may not be as responsive throughout the business as you would otherwise be. At this time of year, everybody is realistic; everybody should be expecting some kind of holiday and if they know that that’s coming then they can plan for themselves with you not being around. So it could be an email out to everybody, it could be a note on your email footer, just to warn people of the dates that you’re not available. It could also be your out of office should include alternate contact details, in case of emergency or an urgent situation, who they should contact.
That’s probably the most that you can do in a short timescale to prepare the business. Obviously some of those like cash flow might be tricky to do but just things to bear in mind for future holiday periods and just to make whole situation much easier to deal with.
I’ll leave you with those thoughts. Do tune into episode two which as I said will be about preparing your team for managing without you, hopefully to give you some downtime and some proper downtime too.
I’ll see you on episode two!
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