Every business has peaks and troughs. And though you’re grateful for the boost in income, peak season for businesses can be stressful on everyone involved. And for the vast majority of pest controllers and building inspectors,, summer is the height of it… For both the demand from customers and from the pests that have been waiting all winter to take over a building.
Here’s some advice on coping with the summer peak season rush, as well as how you can support your team without letting customer service fall by the wayside.
1. Prioritise customer support strategies during peak season
You may have to adjust your customer support strategies for busy times, but you certainly shouldn’t let them disappear. Dissatisfied customers are the quickest way to ruin your business reputation. So, make sure that you’re being as efficient as possible while still keeping customers happy and informed.
For example, are there questions that lots of customers ask repeatedly? Do you spend hours on the phone talking to them? Here are some strategies to consider:
- Compile a list of FAQs to send them well in advance of your visit, before they start questioning
- Have the right technology at-hand so you can easily talk to them on the go, rather than needing to do it while stationery
- If there is a pattern in the information they need, add it to your website for their easy reference
- Train up a staff member to take on a percentage of the enquiries
- Implement an email-first or instant messenger policy with a guarantee of a response within one working day
- Engage a message taking service instead of accumulating voicemails to the point where your mailbox is too full to take on more
There are plenty of ways to save time while still meeting your customers’ expectations.
In doing so, make sure to continue communicating honestly and openly with them. It’s important to keep your customers in the loop about any problems, delays, or issues. They’re much less likely to complain or take to social media if they feel they’re being listened to and treated with respect, even if something does go wrong.
2. Balance hard and “easy” tasks
Running your own business is never easy, especially during peak season! But some parts of your day are undoubtedly harder than others.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed or getting burn out, you can try to balance your daily or weekly tasks.
What does this mean in practice? For example, after doing something taxing and draining, you could follow it by running a simple errand, replying to emails, or doing another low-effort task that’s still important to the day-to-day running of your business. This way, you give yourself a bit of a mental break (or a physical one) from the hard tasks but don’t feel guilty about doing “nothing” when you’re in the middle of the peak season rush.
You could also break down each lengthier task into steps then alternate between getting each step done and ticking off other tasks that can be accomplished quicker. That way, you’re gaining a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as you go.
3. Consider outsourcing during peak season
When things get really busy, it can be tempting to do everything yourself because you know it will be done well in as little time as possible. And that isn’t necessarily a negative. It’s important to create a buffer for quieter months and to make sure you’re bringing in enough income.
However, it’s also important not to overstretch yourself. Not only will you suffer the consequences from working too many hours, but your quality of work might suffer, leading to unhappy customers.
You could consider outsourcing some work. For some pest controllers and building inspectors, you’ll immediately be thinking along the lines of a subcontractor. Before going down that route, read more about subcontractors and insurance to find out whether you’d be covered by your professional indemnity insurance and general liability insurance if something went wrong.
There are plenty of other things you can outsource too. Perhaps invoicing or bookkeeping takes up way too much of your time and you could hire a freelance accountant to handle that for you? Or it could be that you’re spending ages thinking about social media when you’d be better letting a cost-effective uni graduate social media marketer create a three-month plan for you. Maybe you need a virtual assistant to schedule your appointments or reply to emails and enquiries a couple of days per week?
Find out what’s eating into your time, and see whether there’s a way to lighten the load during busy periods.
4. Go digital to ease the peak season pressure
Where possible, turn to digital assistance. There are loads of ways using software and digital programmes can help ease the pressure on your business during peak season, including:
- Using apps and other software which allow you to work on the go from anywhere and streamline your processes. Read about the best apps for working on the go for some inspiration.
- Letting customers find out key information via a website, Facebook page or similar rather than by calling or emailing you.
- Making use of an online booking and/or quoting system to save time.
- Keeping digital copies of contracts, inspection notes, and more so that you have them easily available to access if a dispute, claim, or query arises.
Here are some more tips on how to take your business digital.
5. Support your team
If you’re lucky enough to have people working with or for you, it’s important you offer them proper support during busy times. Happy employees will always deliver better service and outcomes, and you want to attract and retain the best staff. So treat them well!
Depending on their role and your business, you could try:
- Offering some flexibility (e.g. letting employees come into the office earlier or later, allowing some work-from-home time, or giving extra days off during quiet times as a thanks for overtime done during busier times)
- Limit time spent in meetings. Of course, some are unavoidable. But try setting a hard time limit on those meetings that have to go ahead, and only scheduling ones which really are crucial.
- Set clear expectations, and make sure they’re fair. Don’t expect your team to respond to emails at all hours, for instance. Do make sure they know what their priorities and goals are each day or week.
Check your insurance
When everyone is busy, tired, and stressed, mistakes and oversights happen. Peak season is great for your business, but the extra time spent on the clock and the sheer number of extra jobs means you’re more likely to have a claim brought against you. And letting your insurance expire could cost you thousands. Or even more!
Make sure you’re properly insured as the peak season hits, including checking each insurance endorsement on your policy is correct, so you’re financially protected against costly mistakes. Find out more about Rapid Solutions’ insurance offerings and get a quote ASAP if you’re looking to save money as well as time this summer.