Prime Advantage has invited industry experts to share insights on achieving manufacturing and business success. In this post, Tim Neroni, President and Managing Partner at KMH Systems, Inc., discusses how to prepare for peak workload times.
Now is the perfect time to prepare and train for the largest two retail days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. During the next couple of months, you can prepare your team in multiple areas, find weak points in your workflow, and take these weeks to make sure they are well prepared. Once the rush arrives no one will be taken by surprise, and they will be more at ease with the upsurge in activity.
Delivering outstanding customer service during the upcoming busy season will help retain customers and increase your long-term sales goals. Ensuring your workflow is easily able to scale up to any demand is easier to practice in advance with training, trial runs, and team incentives.
Cross-training prepares employees for any challenge and gives them the ability to keep your workflow in step with your needs. From unforeseen illness to employee turnover, there are some gaps in the day you cannot predict or prepare for. Not only does cross-training your team help in times of need, it gives them confidence to do more and become trainers themselves down the road if needed.
Cross-training helps eliminate confusion and mistakes. An easy to implement tool for cross-training is to start a job shadowing program. Once or twice a week, or for even part of a workday, a team member can shadow someone in another area and learn everything they need to know. Doing this will train people in new areas and provides the added benefit of giving the trainer a chance to shine. You can even create incentives for team members who train in your shadowing programs.
Expand Your Sales Dates
While most sellers will wait until Black Friday and Cyber Monday to offer discounts on their products and services, you can get ahead of the game not only in your ROI but in your operations by running a few sales in the Fall. This will test your workflow capacity before the holiday and is a good way to see how a small surge in orders impacts your team’s ability to keep up. Having a special for your regular customers, offering a discount or bundled kit promotion, allows you to test your systems using a manageable “rush” incentive.
Get together with your management team and decide which products or services wouldn’t put too large of a “crush” on your team if you received a lot of orders for them, and lower your prices to test your holiday logistics in advance. When you run these early sales you could even move your team to the areas where they were cross-trained. This way your team can let you know any areas they think they need more training in.
Increase Added Value Services
Expand product offerings. From building gift baskets to creating twin-packs, value-added services help to give your customers more buying choices. Better manage inventory by stocking fewer SKUs, reducing the cost of carrying and managing inventory. With value-added operations close to the end customer, you can delay product configuration until the last possible minute, so you can respond more accurately to customer demand. You should also ask existing suppliers to perform more value-added functions. This will reduce your number of suppliers and streamline your supply chain.
Increase Employee Care & Morale
One of the easiest ways to keep your workflow from slowing down is to take a few simple steps to promote team morale. From more free choices in the break room to onsite lunches once a week or month, you will find your team appreciating you and happy to pitch in when needed. You can send a “Thank You” via email from your top managers that does not mention profits but instead simply expresses appreciation for their time, care, and work. This can go a long way with all of your team.
Though it is a simple gesture, remember to take a moment to thank your team whenever you are on site – they move the mountain in slow times and busy seasons for you!