We’re quickly approaching the end of October and that means the fall holiday season is about to begin in earnest with Halloween. For retailers, Halloween is one of the biggest revenue-generating holidays of the year, but for many service companies, Halloween can present a variety of obstacles to their business. We’ll discuss just a few of these obstacles and offer you some suggestions to help overcome them.
Obstacle #1 – Distractions
With any holiday, upcoming festivities and events can cause employees to become distracted at work, and Halloween is certainly no different. Whether it’s discussing what parties they’re planning to attend, what costume they’re planning to wear, or what their kids will be doing, there are many things to distract the attention of your employees.
Trying to prevent employees from ever conversing about upcoming holidays is a futile venture and makes for a very unpleasant workplace. Establishing a culture where these conversations are acceptable in certain places or for brief times can lead to a very happy work environment.
When employees know that there’s a time and place for chit chat, and a time and place for hard work, you will be able to strike a good balance over time by setting the right example.
Obstacle #2 – On-the-job hazards
Halloween means decorations, almost as much so as any other holiday. When you have a mobile workforce that spends a lot of time at customers’ homes, your employees will inevitably encounter situations where decorations make their job more difficult. This may include situations where the decorations are blocking access to areas the worker needs to reach or fragile decorations in areas that your employee needs to work. Either way, these decorations can make it more difficult for your employee to get their job done properly and efficiently.
The best approach is to encourage your employees to speak professionally and diplomatically with your customers. This may also include training your customer service and phone staff to warn customers ahead of time that your workers will need access to specific areas and to please ensure those areas are clear of any obstructions. Once your employee arrives at the jobsite, they may still encounter these obstacles, so advising your workers on ways to tactfully ask the customer to clear the area can be a valuable use of your time.
Obstacle #3 – Slow-down (or speed-up) in business
Not only are your employees potentially distracted, but so are your customers and potential customers. Jobs that you normally pick up may dry up as the holiday season kicks off, meaning you may have fewer opportunities for revenue and fewer jobs for your employees to work. On the flip side, some businesses may see an uptick in business as customers try to get repairs, maintenance, cleaning, etc., taken care of before parties occur and guests start to arrive.
Scheduling becomes key in times when business is uneven. You can use historical experiences from previous years to try and project what your business will look like in the coming months and adjust your staffing accordingly. You can also look to adjust your marketing expenditures to try and ensure you don’t have too much (there is such a thing!) or too little business as the year comes to a close.
Obstacle #4 – Non-work activities
Between parties and school events, Halloween can be ripe with non-work-related activities happening during business hours. This presents many opportunities for employees to be taken out of their normal schedule and spend time away from the job which they may or may not inform you about.
For mobile employees, GPS fleet tracking can be an excellent way to ensure that your workforce is remaining on the job when their timesheet says they are. By tracking your vehicles, you will be able to know the time spent on each job as well as the time spent at locations that are unrelated to the job. Tracking protects you from employees that attempt to take care of personal activities without informing management ahead of tim