As the summer holidays approach, it's essential that small and medium-sized businesses plan ahead to ensure they’re not caught out by staffing constraints or limited cash flow.
With an estimated £45,224,400 loss of income for the East Midlands during summertime (according to research by Direct Line for Business), it pays to make a plan and stick to it to keep any losses incurred to the bare minimum.
If you’re unsure of where to start, follow these essential tips to help you prepare your business for the season ahead.
With school holidays on the horizon, many small and medium-sized business owners will have already seen an uptake in employees requesting time off to spend with friends and family. It’s essential to manage this by setting clear guidelines for how many employees can be absent at any one time; it is advisable to do this on a departmental basis, rather than company-wide, to ensure that all core functions run smoothly and avoid surprise downtime.
Start by evaluating your staffing requirements during the summer period. Depending on the volume and length of requested holiday times, it can pay to determine if you need to hire temporary staff or distribute workload among existing employees.
Plan ahead for staff vacations and consider implementing flexible working hours or remote work options if this is feasible to maximise productivity and minimise stress - both for you and your colleagues. Communicate clearly with your team about holiday policies and ensure that work responsibilities are clearly delegated.
Critically, don’t forget to account for your own break from the workplace. While some entrepreneurs or small business owners might be tempted to forego a holiday to keep productivity high, they’d be in the minority.
In fact, 60% actively plan on taking time off to spend with loved ones over the summer - according to research by Direct Line for Business. While it’s certainly important to take time to refresh and reassess your priorities, make sure you stick to the time off you’ve pre-planned and allowed for.
The summer holidays can lead to big fluctuations in revenue and increased expenses, especially in the current economic climate. It's essential to review your cash flow projections and adjust your budget accordingly.
Plan for potential slowdowns in sales and account for any seasonal variations in your industry. To do this, you can refer to trends in previous years and adjust targets to take this expected sales slump (or spike) into account.
This is when you should speak directly with your accountant to ensure you have sufficient cash reserves to cover any financial gaps during the summer period. With specialist business advice support, you can ensure that your finances are optimally invested, with minimal risk.
With fewer staff members and potentially fewer customers (depending on your business), now is the time to analyse your inventory and anticipate any increased demand or slowdowns during the summer holidays.
This is the time to identify any necessary adjustments that may need to be made to your stock levels and coordinate with suppliers to ensure timely deliveries. Effective inventory management will help you to avoid holding excess stock or facing shortages, reducing financial strain and, most importantly, maintaining customer satisfaction.
Even something as seemingly insignificant as reducing food replenishment in a communal vending machine could save you money in the long run by ensuring you don’t have to shell out for excess stock. The same principle applies to stationery, administrative supplies, or cleaning products.
We’re not suggesting that you replace your workforce - simply that you empower them to do more. Consider implementing solutions that make use of technology to ensure you’re getting the very best use of time from the staff you have.
If a department has been persistently asking for an investment in new hardware or software, now might be the ideal time to ask why that is.
Many business owners find that automating repetitive tasks (such as data entry or call management, for example) frees up valuable time, allowing you and your staff to focus on more strategic objectives within the business.
This could be as simple as implementing a chatbot on your website and programming specific answers in response to set questions, such as how to log into a customer account, what your opening times are, or directing them towards frequently asked questions.
It pays to regularly monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the health of your business during the summer season. Analyse sales data, customer feedback, and expense patterns regularly to spot trends early and make well-informed decisions; this information will help you to address any challenges and seize opportunities for growth as they arise.
Engaging the services of an experienced accountant and business advisor can provide invaluable support during a period of upheaval, such as the summer holidays. They can help you navigate complex finances, optimise tax planning, and offer insightful guidance on how to make the most informed strategic business decisions.
If you want to ensure you’re in the best possible position to navigate the summer holidays, manage cash flow, and embed strategic decision-making in your business, get in touch today.