The “dog days of summer” is a concept that has been around since the days of the Romans, who believed it was a time when “all creatures became languid”. It is the hottest stretch of the season, evoking thoughts of escaping to the beach, the pool, or the hammock.
Not surprisingly, it is a time of year when many industries experience slow downs in both customer demand and employee productivity. According to a study by the Captivate Network, workplace productivity drops 20 percent on average during the summer months. When temperatures rise, attendance decreases by 19 percent and workers are 45 percent more distracted.
If this is typical for your small business, consider some of these ideas to bolster employee engagement and make productive use of predictable downtime.
Schedule summer hours.
Employees with and without kids generally want more time off during summertime. This can be tough for small businesses that cannot afford to have too many staff out of the office at one time. Consider whether or not you can offer flex scheduling or job sharing to ensure adequate coverage. If business tends to drop off in the summer, institute a company policy where you close early on Fridays. Knowing they have Friday afternoons off may give your staff the incentive to focus more on completing the work at hand and less on daydreaming about the weekend.
Think “outside” the box.
If your staff is itching to leave the office, encourage them to take their work outside. Fresh air and sunshine can help lower stress and boost creativity. Something as simple as swapping the conference room for a “walking” meeting on your company’s campus or at a local park will allow you and your team to take care of business while taking a break from the same old routine.
Relax the dress code.
If an August slowdown means fewer client meetings, consider loosening up your business dress code. Shorts and tank tops may never be appropriate in your workplace, but your team may enjoy the relaxed feel that comes with wearing T-shirts, jeans, and sandals. Develop a written policy that clarifies what is and is not acceptable attire.
Look at the big picture.
Maximize summer downtime by working on your business instead of in your business. When customers, vendors, and staff are on vacation, use the opportunity to review and update your business plans. Where are you with your yearly goals? If you started January with a list of action steps and expected results, determine what has been accomplished and what remains. Use any extra time to complete a few more items on the list.
Update your online image.
Take a good, hard look at your company website. Almost 50 percent of business websites have outdated or incorrect information and/or dead links. Review the key pages of your site for accuracy, and refresh stale content so that it addresses your customers’ current needs. Check out competitor sites to see if they are doing something that could benefit your business, and make changes accordingly.
Figure it out.
While you have the time, invest it in thoroughly reviewing your company’s finances. Learn how to interpret balance sheets and profit and loss reports. Analyze your cash flow to get a full understanding of when money will be coming in and when it will not. Investigate resources for accessing additional cash when your operating expenses exceed your income.
Working capital financing is vital for small business owners, and Summit Financial Resources offers working capital loans that involve using your accounts receivable and other assets as collateral. We can mix and match from a variety of product options to suit your needs, including invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.
Start a conversation.
Many small-business owners do not have time to speak with customers or colleagues as often as they would like. August is a great month to reach out, reconnect, and make an effort to build more meaningful relationships. Call a customer you have not spoken with in a while to tell them how much you appreciate their business. Send out a short customer survey about your product or service, and plan what actions you will take as a result. Explore the conversations taking place on your business social media sites and try participating in those that are relevant to your business.
Give yourself a break.
An overwhelming majority of business owners work more than 40 hours a week, and about 10 percent are continuously overwhelmed by their workload. This is a recipe for burnout. If your business dips in the summer, use the time to recharge by taking a break from all things work related. With a little advance planning, you will be able to leave your business in capable hands and avoid that wish-I-had-taken-vacation feeling when things pick up again after Labor Day.
Working Capital Financing is a few clicks away.
Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.