Spring is finally here, meaning that many small businesses are getting ready for the onslaught of seasonal, warm-weather customers. In addition to stocking up and staffing up, there are steps you can take to ensure that your busy season runs smoothly, and even beats expectations.
Audit Your Operating Systems
Right now, in the calm before the storm, is the perfect time to take a big-picture look at your operations, from the organizational chart to the email system. Set aside a day or two to do a thorough run-down of how your business runs, starting with some of the following questions: Do you have the right team members in the right positions? Are there any gaps in the workflow process that need someone assigned to them? Is everyone clear on their responsibilities and duties once business picks up? If you find any discord or ambiguity, clear it up now, and save time and money later.
Your spring cleaning can reach into the nitty-gritty of efficiency and time management as well. Are there any roadblocks in your system that are keeping your team from functioning optimally? Is your email system too slow? Copy machine always broken? Nip these issues in the bud now, and you’ll be glad you did.
Update Your Website
It’s a digitally focused world, and even traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have to maintain a digital presence in order to stay competitive. If your site has broken links, outdated information, aging photos, or any other materials that frankly, feel a bit stale, take this time to update them. Spend an hour or two clicking through the site on your own, and enlist a few friends or colleagues with neutral perspectives to do the same. They can give you a fresh pair of eyes as far as whether the site is easy to navigate, whether the important/necessary information is easy to find, and more. If a complicated website doesn’t seem to aid your business, you may be able to get away with just maintaining a Facebook page.
Tighten Up Your Sales Process
This one is listed as #3, but it’s arguably the most critical. The digital age means a 24/7 business cycle, so customers can find you, and your competition, at lightning speed. Once they find you, the key is winning their trust, and their business. To this end, it’s worth spending some time reviewing the way your company handles sales, from start to finish. How fast does your team follow up on leads? And what process do they use to nurture a lead into a customer? If you’re signing up customers online, research whether you’re using the right CRM or cloud tool to manage the potential customers finding you through the web. Set policies about response time for new leads, and create incentives for your team to win business. You’ll see the results quickly as soon as the busy season gets underway.
Update Your Technology
This one may require some upfront expenditures, but the investment can pay off in droves. Does your team have the right tools to maximize performance? Are you creating your product with aging technology? When it comes to the office, are you still using five-year-old desktops rather than laptops or tablets? And speaking of tablets, have you integrated them into your customer interactions? They’re becoming more and more a part of the purchasing experience, and can save your team loads of time in ringing up sales and keeping track of transactions. If the price of new technology shocks you, you may want to read up on equipment financing.
The factor that will make or break your sales this busy season, no matter what business you’re in, is your team. They are the critical factor holding the key to success. Keeping this in mind, it’s critical to make sure they’re happy, motivated, and ready for things to pick up steam. Hold some team meetings and one-on-ones to ensure everyone has a chance to feel heard, and get employees’ concerns addressed or questions answered. While you still have time, plan a social event or two, for the whole team. Share with them any exciting news or plans for the company this year. (Here’s how to give a great speech.) And remember: businesses pick up hiring around this time of year, so if you aren’t making your employees feel appreciated, other employers may.