With the holiday season just around the corner I’ve been reflecting on some of the perils of being an owner-managed business. Whilst this applies to my own businesses I think it is fair to say staff holidays and owner holidays are afar more stressful and potentially risky period for any small, independent retail business…
Independent Retailers struggle to cope with extra workload of staff holidays
Time and again I hear about how tough it is for my retail clients and contacts when staff go on holiday or are otherwise absent. As they often run a very tight ship, with no “wastage” in their resource model being 1 person down can have a massive impact on their ability to trade, to run the business and to provide an adequate level of customer service.
In the short term there is little they can do – my advice is to merely spread their risk and have a bank of extra, trained staff – perhaps who only work weekends for the rest of the year. This would mean before authorising holiday for regular staff the extra hours could be booked with the familiar, part time staff, thus ensuring a seamless handover and no reduction in service level.
A standard set of operating practices can make your business more robust and repeatable…
In the longer term I believe it is imperative for every business to have an easy to understand set of standard operating practices – temporary staff can be brought in to cover holidays and the business owner will have the confidence that their business is robust enough to accommodate their lack of experience due to having implemented repeatable and documented processes.
Obviously this won’t happen overnight. Any serious business owner should be considering how to simplify, automate and standardise as much of their business as possible in order that a new member of the team can literally “do it by the book” ensuring things are done accurately, effectively and the customer experience is unaffected. Perhaps one to start thinking about now in anticipation of next year’s holiday season…
Well that covers staff holidays – but how as the business owner can I realistically go away and leave my business unattended?
I hear this sentiment a lot… my answer is linked to the above – the key to unlocking the potential in your business, and to giving you back some of your time without putting your income at risk, is to develop robust and repeatable processes.
What I mean by this is that you need to make yourself dispensable! Document, standardise, automate and simplify as many of the routine day to day tasks in the business as you can. Outsource where possible – from book keeping to call handling! Employ and train up key, dependable resources who you can rely on to replicate much of what you do. You need to remove the risk of you being the bottleneck to your business, your income and your relaxation time! There may be a point in time when you want to grow the business, to be able to scale up to 2, 3, 10 stores without having to be in 10 places at once!
Should you ever want to sell your business having a set of robust, repeatable processes (and systems) will enable you to demonstrate to a potential buyer that the value of the business goes beyond you being the primary resource and as such you will realise a far better price for the company you’ve created!
Robust, repeatable business processes and systems are the key to becoming a scalable, saleable retail enterprise!
Whilst you may find you have to suffer a solution that’s not ideal for this year, if you do this then you will find yourself in a much stronger position for next year; able to enjoy a well deserved holiday knowing your business is in safe hands!