Tips For Navigating Seasonal Business Spikes
June 3, 2020
(3 – 5 minute read)
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Most businesses expect their sales to surge during certain times of the year. For example, many suppliers and retailers experience spikes in consumer demand during Thanksgiving and Christmas. When orders increase the company must be ready to fill them. This means planning months in advance.
Identify Peak Seasons
If you’ve experienced a surge in demand during specific times of the year, chances are it will happen again. To prepare, run reports that show customer trends over the respective periods. For example:
- Around what time of the month do these spikes tend to start? When do they usually decline?
- Which products and/or services were most requested?
- Which days or holidays are most likely to boost demand? Is it Valentine’s Day, Black Friday, New Year’s Day, and/or Mother’s Day?
Based on this information, you can estimate production and staffing requirements for future seasonal spikes.
Secure the Appropriate Staff
Lack of qualified employees during busy seasons can lead to all sorts of issues, including:
- A slowdown in production and the processing of crucial documents, such as purchase orders and invoices
- Incorrect estimation of which (and how many) products are needed at specific times and locations
- Inaccurate and rejected invoices
- Too much time spent correcting errors
To ease staffing burdens, consider hiring temporary help or outsourcing certain functions. Assign workers to roles that match their job description—this lowers the probability of employees making costly mistakes simply because the assignment was out of their league.
Also, keep in mind that busy periods are hectic and can take their toll on even the best workers. Have an open-door policy so employees will feel comfortable divulging their concerns. Be sure to stress the importance of maintaining a respectful work environment among employees at all levels.
Evaluate Your Supply Chain
A scalable supply chain is essential to satisfying fluctuating customer demands. In other words, your supply chain must have the ability to adapt to your growing needs. Any sign of supplier instability should be taken seriously, as it suggests the supplier will not be reliable during peak seasons. For example, a supplier that has veered without warning from the agreed-upon delivery schedule is likely to do so during high volume periods.
Technology has paved the way for companies to enhance customer service and business performance. Customers can now communicate with businesses not just by phone, but also via text, video, and the Internet. Inbound inquiries for instance, can be handled by live chat, email, and web forms. These options help reduce costs, increase employee productivity, and offer customers a diverse range of communication channels.
Through technology, your customers can shop for your products—or review your services—online. This is crucial because according to the fifth annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, surveyed shoppers made 51 percent of their purchases online. Online access is especially beneficial during peak seasons, as it saves employees from having to perform tasks that customers can—or even prefer to—do themselves.
Technology facilitates social media, which is vital to building brand loyalty and managing seasonal spikes. For instance, you can fend off phone inquiries about a certain topic by disseminating the information via social media. You may also use social media to inform buyers about seasonal sales, promotions or special events.
Technology not only improves customer experience but also reduces manual processes during seasonal highs. Inventory and administrative data are easier to record, access, track and manage, thereby decreasing employee workload, improving accuracy, and increasing productivity.