It’s summertime, and the living is easy. Unfortunately, the peril lies in taking it a little too easy. The summer months mean a change of rhythm for many businesses: some see their activity increase, but most notice a summer business slump. In fact, a Captivate study finds that overall productivity dips by 20% during the summer season.
Luckily, the summer downswing isn’t inevitable, and its consequences aren’t necessarily devastating. Read on to learn how to kickstart your activity and defeat the summer slowdown.
How the right tools can beat the summer business slump
The change in rhythm caused by a summer business slump can have adverse consequences for your business. To avoid any lasting damage, flexibility and adaptability are key. Even a small, seemingly inconsequential parameter, such as the temperature in your office, can have weighty repercussions.
Go virtual, stay flexible
Your business tools, the ones your team uses daily, should be able to smoothly scale up and down to accompany seasonal activity fluctuations. This is one of the major advantages of virtual business software: since you pay per subscription for a dematerialized service, you won’t ever face a dearth or surplus of material resources during the summer.
Virtual business tools also offer features which can alleviate the pressure of working with a smaller team over the summer. For instance, a virtual phone system with intelligent call routing can pick up the slack left by missing employees. You can also configure your IVR to present a message for a summer promotion or event.
Maintain open communication
If a larger than usual portion of your employee base works remotely over the summer, you’ll need the means to communicate effectively. There are a multitude of tools which strive to enable remote teams to stay on top of their tasks. The summer business slump is no excuse to let the cohesion of your team falter.
Keep your team productive and empowered
Productivity dips in the summer, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to prevent this dip from affecting your business too drastically. Summer can be a difficult time for your workforce, due to a possible decrease in employee engagement and an increase in turnover.
Offer flexible schedules
We all chafe at being stuck indoors when it’s lovely outside. Consequently, during the summer business slump, people tend to take longer lunch breaks, leave early, or just look out the window and zone out.
Common sense would suggest that enforcing strict measures would prevent employees from being inattentive and less productive. However, the inverse is closer to the truth: offering flexible schedules during the summer months actually makes employees more efficient.
By letting employees take charge of their schedule, they feel more empowered and less constrained. As a result, they are more motivated during the hours they’ve set themselves and more productive, overall. Giving employees flexible schedules promotes engagement, decreases attrition, and has proven to improve general productivity.
Try out alternative methods
The summer business slump is an appropriate time to experiment with giving your employees new options. Then, evaluate the results and potentially carry over those options to the rest of the year.
A good example of this is making telecommuting a possibility. There are many great reasons to allow employees to work remotely, but quite a few risks, as well. Giving remote work a trial run during the summer, when the stakes are lower in terms of activity and results, can help you figure out if this option is right for your business.
The same is true for hiring freelancers and virtual assistants. Virtual assistants can be a real boon for businesses, especially if the summer means extra activity in your industry. Not only can virtual assistants pick up the slack left by vacationing employees, but you can also gauge a virtual employee’s merit and possibly hire them for good.
Give in to the call
Let’s face it, even the most stringent and coercive attendance policies won’t curb the appeal of taking it a little easier during the summer.
Instead of enforcing punitive measures on your employees, try to divert their attention from the leisurely joys of summer by making their work environment as appealing as possible. Incentivize good behavior by rewarding it with events which reinforce company culture, such as outings and perks. This kills two birds with one stone: reinforce your team’s cohesion while also letting employees enjoy the relative downtime.
Think of summer as a time to nurture your staff the way they nurture customers all year long. Place emphasis on creating camaraderie and keeping your staff engaged and motivated. This will pay off a hundredfold when the mad fall rush takes over.
Look to the future
The summer months are a propitious time to reevaluate your processes, your resources, and your business plan. The summer business slump means that every team gets a chance to catch their breath, and that means it’s a good time to appraise your methods and toy with change.
Experiment and plan for fall
The summer lull is a great opportunity to forge ahead and prepare for fall; once everyone comes back to work, employees and customers alike, you’ll hit the ground running. During the summer months, you can take the time to revamp your website, create a backup of content, prune or grow your social media presence, or develop new partnerships.
It’s also an opportune time to reevaluate your spending. As you plan for fall, consider delving into the operational and budgeting tasks you never have time to complete during the in-season rush. Reexamine your subscriptions for goods and services or revise your employee onboarding plan, for instance. Go big and reevaluate your budget, or go small and encourage employees to tidy up their desks. This way, once fall hits, your whole team will come back refreshed and ready to excel.
The summer doesn’t have to be all work and no play, however. Since the usual pressure is alleviated somewhat, you can take this opportunity to experiment with your processes. Try a new marketing campaign, set up a new support channel, or encourage employees to work on their passion projects to stay engaged.
Stay in touch with your customers
Don’t let your customers slip away during the summer business slump, otherwise you’ll sorely regret it come fall. While it’s true that sales will be difficult to close during the summer, summer is the time to cultivate customer engagement.
Customers and prospects might be unwilling to sign contracts, but they might be open to helping you refine your customer service processes. Summer is a good time to reconnect with cold leads and warm them up for September, send out a promotional newsletter, or to collect customer feedback. Sending out a short survey over the summer can help you get in touch with customers’ expectations in terms of product and service, only to better meet those expectations in the fall.
Let our phone system be your strongest ally in defeating the summer slump, and try Aircall today!