To those in the thick of it, it sure may not seem like it, but peak season will soon come to a close. These five questions will help you gauge how your operations performed.
Peak season is a frenzied few months in retail and associated industries, like manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics. When you're finally able to slow down, however, the end of the year offers a pivotal time for operations and hiring managers to be introspective, to consider how to make next year even more productive and profitable.
This is the time to learn what should change, what should stay the same, and what tools you need to improve. Start your evaluation by asking these five simple questions.
So often, these exercises focus on the negative. Although there’s much to learn from poor experiences and outcomes, you can gain just as much by understanding what worked well.
Consider the positive aspects of your operations in the final quarter. Were important goals met? Did you come in under budget? Where did you exceed expectations? These factors help you determine why (or why not) the business had a positive outcome.
If you need help getting started, consider key performance indicators, such as:
These provide an excellent measure of overall business performance, especially during peak season. What’s more, these metrics readily identify where you’re succeeding and where you have opportunities for improvement.
Labor is one of your most significant expenses. But this year, did you spend too much (or too little) on this cost center?
Typically, companies spend about 70% of their annual budget on payroll. This includes salaries, hourly wages, and benefits. Take a look at your spending for this year. Has your payroll increased or decreased? If the amount increased, by how much? More importantly, were you able to control this expense by expanding and contracting your workforce as needed?
Bearing in mind the 8% inflation rate, if you notice direct labor costs and labor overhead increasing more than they should year over year, your current staffing model might not be keeping pace with your organization as a whole.
Having enough workers is one thing, but having the right ones is another entirely.
For instance, let’s say you have a semiautomated workflow process. Several parts of your workflow require skilled labor, but you couldn’t find employees with the correct skillset. So you decided that filling a position with unskilled labor was better than leaving it vacant. Unfortunately, that decision had negative consequences.
Without the right workers in the right jobs, your production efficiency decreased. Then, you noticed a dip in customer satisfaction. You know there were more errors than usual, which can easily explain lower efficiency and customer satisfaction. But what was the root cause?
Chances are, you were too concerned with having any labor than having the right labor. Without an easy way to access high-quality workers, you had to compromise, and it was costly.
The next question concerns your management team. Who is leading your labor? Are they fulfilling their job description?
Unfortunately the answer is no for far too many companies. Rather than devoting most of their time to managing people, many managers get caught up with other responsibilities. Our research suggests most managers spend their time on administrative tasks (54%), followed by solving problems and collaborating (30%), strategy and innovation (10%), and developing people and engaging with stakeholders (7%).
High-performing teams, on the other hand, have proactive managers who spend most of their time developing workers' skill sets and collaborating to solve problems. This may sound like a pipe dream, but with the right amount of qualified workers and tools that reduce administrative burden in place, your managers can finally focus on managing.
Think about your answers to the last four questions. What moved your business forward? What held the organization back? Regardless of your answer, most managers can distill triumphs and trials into a single variable: their employees.
Your workers make or break your business. They determine whether you’ll hit a deadline, if a client will be satisfied, and the number of days between time-loss errors. They impact every facet of your business, so having the right workers is essential to your success.
But assembling a top-performing team is difficult. You need a solution to help you find the right people at the right price with the flexibility to scale quickly when needed.
Contact us to get started today or to learn more about how we can help you connect quickly and easily with high-quality, prescreened workers when you need them.
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