It’s that time of year again… the clocks have gone back to provide us with more sunlight in the morning during the winter months. The clocks changing also march us steadily towards the busy holiday season, from Diwali to Hanukkah to Christmas, where traditionally, people tend to open their wallets to spend a little more on themselves and loved ones, making it the ultimate time for you to focus on driving your business revenue.
At Deputy, we understand how hard it can be to find the headspace to figure out what you need to plan for to make sure your business is flying in your busiest period, so we’ve come up with three tips to help get you and your team prepared to have a successful holiday season.
1. Look to the past to predict the future
Before you prepare for the busy holiday season, we recommend looking at past results to help you identify historical trends. Any intel you can get from historical data will help you plan your operations for the rush ahead.
At a minimum, we suggest looking at your POS data to determine the date you historically see the first stampede of customers to mark the ‘Holiday Season officially’. This will help you work towards a deadline to prepare any new operational processes.
Overlaying sales and wage data to see how effective you have been historically at scheduling to budget against busy periods is a powerful tool for forecasting. The data will help you decide whether to replicate your past strategies or develop a new approach to improve your ROI. Solutions like Xero or Square that integrate with Deputy, help to make your everyday business transaction data even more powerful and are pivotal to forecasting well. If you don’t have POS or accounting data flowing into Deputy already, we suggest you connect them before the holiday season rush so that, at the very least, you have historical data to look at next year.
2. Hire and retain seasonal staff
Whether you’re a cafe, gym or retail chain, the best way to optimise your earnings this busy season is to have an awesome team behind you.
Whilst the quality of candidates applying for casual roles across the UK is returning to pre-pandemic standards, holiday season is always a competitive time to find and retain great talent, so we recommend getting on the front foot of your hiring and onboarding process now.
To attract the right team members to your business, ensure that each job description reflects the skills and the type of personality that your business is looking for. Think now about who your top performers are and how you can ask them to step into more senior roles to support your casual staff over the Summer. Promoting from within and getting your team to help with hiring will attract like-minded talent and build a high-performing team that your customers will love.
Once you attract a great team, ensure you have a thorough but speedy interview and onboarding process so you can schedule your new team member before the competition.
Digitally manage your team's important documents, such as right-to-work and employment contracts, to speed up and simplify your new starter onboarding process. Now is also the perfect time to double-check your existing team's important documents. If qualifications are due to expire during the crazy holiday rush, make sure that you’re prepared for the downtime of that team member so it doesn’t land you in a staffing pickle.
Many casual staff are looking for additional shifts during the holiday period, so ensure you have open lines of communication upfront about the number of hours they can expect to work, as well as clear documentation of the hourly and overtime rates your business pays so that you can retain team members over the holiday season.
There are many public holidays over the holiday season, and with the longer days, your venue can be open for longer hours. Ensure you’ve got your team set up on accurate payroll, as the busy period is not the right time to waste hours on fixing incorrect pay rates and rerunning payroll.
3. Stay flexible
As you ramp up your casual workforce, you will need to be more flexible than ever about how you fill open shifts.
Before the busy season hits, we recommend that you have a digital process in place that allows employees to swap their shifts with peers if they’re not available at the last minute or a system that allows them to block out their availability if they know they will need time off in advance for holidays or family commitments. There’s always the possibility that the weather will be different to the forecast, and your customers end up spending their days at home, which can impact your bottom line. Even if you cannot be physically onsite with your team every day, by implementing great technology that supports your business processes, you should be able to tell if your team is busy or having a slow day and adjust your team's shifts accordingly.
Whilst you may already be starting to feel the beginnings of the holiday season rush in your business, it’s best to invest in technology to support your current business processes before things get too manic. Implementing new processes before the start of the rush also gives you enough time to train your existing team members and new team members ahead of time so they can focus on providing great customer service as a priority. Great customer service will lead to repeat business and word-of-mouth promotion allowing you to optimise your business revenue in your busiest period.