Every commercial organisation has to cope with a certain amount of variation in demand over time and many firms get by quite easily during slightly busier periods by offering overtime to existing staff. However, some companies are faced with violent seasonal fluctuations that require a more dramatic approach. It is these companies that this article seeks to assist, with strategies for maximising profits during seasonal highs and minimising overheads during the lows.
The key to running a commercial venture that has to deal with violent fluctuations in customer demand is to adopt a fluid managerial approach rather than a rigid and inflexible one. Some of the specific measures that can be taken to minimise wastage and maximise profits during seasonal swings are listed in the section below. Whether it is practical or desirable for your organisation to adopt any particular measure in the list is of course for you to decide but you are sure to find one or two that, at the very least, merit further investigation.
Strategies to Consider for Companies Facing Severe Seasonal Fluctuations
Lowering operating costs during lulls and providing the level of service your customers expect during busy periods are two of the most important goals that each point below seeks to address.
- Passing Excess Calls to a Third Party Telephone Answering Service – One of the first signs that your company is failing to cope with an increase in business is an increase in the number of unanswered calls, or unacceptable waiting times for those who call with enquiries and orders. An overflow call handling service, provided by a team of professionals such as ourselves, is often the most expedient and cost effective way to deal with a seasonal increase in call volume, especially if you wish to avoid any drop in the standard of service your customers can look forward to receiving when contacting your firm.
It is of course important to make sure that you team up with the right telephone answering bureau when adopting this strategy as an unprofessional one could create more problems than it solves. Every caller needs to feel like a valued customer, which will only be the case if their call is handled by a consummate professional. As experts in the field, we are of course always happy to discuss your needs in this area and to recommend cost effective solutions that will work in the long term. Whilst you could elect to pass overflow calls through to an answering machine, most people prefer to speak to a human and not a robot when they make a telephone call so this may not be such a good idea.
- Using Casual Labour Where Appropriate – The key phrase here is ‘where appropriate’ and in almost all cases this means for positions in your company that are not customer facing and that require no special skills. If, for example, there are certain tasks in a production environment that can easily be handled by unskilled labour, using temporary workers to carry out such tasks during busy periods could save your company a considerable amount of money. Refuse disposal, transportation and hygiene operatives are other examples of positions that you may wish to consider filling with casual labour at certain times of the year.
The main advantage of employing temporary staff to cover unskilled positions is of course the fact that you can let them go with very little notice when there is a downswing in your business. This makes such employees ideal for companies that experience seasonal swings in demand on a large scale. As long as you never expect such workers to be able to deal with customer enquiries or to carry out any other tasks for which they are not trained, it is a solid strategy to employ and will allow your organisation to cut costs quickly as demand wanes. Whether you use a local employment agency to recruit temporary workers or do so directly, the flexibility such workers offer your company could come in very handy throughout the year.
- Promotion from Within – Firms that have to cope with seasonal demand have specific issues to deal with on an annual basis that other organisations do not. For this reason, it is a good idea to recruit senior managers from your pool of existing staff, rather than to look outside your company when filling such positions. Whilst you may find some very capable managers by recruiting from outside your company, they probably won’t have experience of dealing with violent seasonal fluctuations and hence may be less effective than those you recruit from your own workforce.
Many firms find that promoting from within also encourages more loyalty from their employees and a more cooperative work environment in general. These two factors are both of great importance when dealing with seasonal upswings that require every member of staff to give their utmost for extended periods of time, making such a promotional policy even more attractive.
- Planning Capital Purchases Carefully – If your company experiences predicable seasonal swings in customer demand, it makes sense to schedule any major equipment purchases during those times of the year when turnover is likely to be at its highest. Careful scheduling of capital purchases can help you to avoid creating unnecessary cash flow problems and suffering excess financial charges from going too far into the red at the wrong time of the year.
There are other ways in which you can minimise the problems associated with seasonal changes in demand but space constraints prevent us from going into them all right here. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, a flexible approach, based on cutting costs quickly when business is slow and ramping up capacity when demand increases, is vital to your success. Such an approach, making use of a reliable overflow call handling partner, capable temporary workers, and experienced senior managers, should help you to tame even the most violent of seasonal swings in business demand and ensure the ongoing profitability of your organisation.