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Scheduling Your Staff

So You Can Manage Your Time

Walk into any number of businesses and watch the action behind the counter. There are usually several people doing the original version of "multi-tasking". They are answering the phone, grabbing a bite of their lunch, and talking with the customers that walk up. Most definitely it is a hectic day. You can easily understand why these businesses have several bar stools behind the counter for these people cannot keep up with this pace all day long.

While this is the nature of the business, there is one severe problem with what we are seeing. For most likely, one of the people behind the counter is the owner or manager of the business. And the other people behind the counter are probably the most knowledgeable people in the business with regards to the products they sell and the services they offer.

What makes this wrong is that these people probably have other more important tasks that they should be doing. What we are experiencing is an incorrect utilization of the staff and management of our business. Let's take a first look at the sales people.

If you were the only person in the building and were waiting on a customer, helping them to finalize a selection, and the phone began to ring, what would you do? Would you leave the customer making a decision and go to answer the phone? What if the customer on the phone kept talking and the customer on the sales floor walked out?

Or, would you let the phone be answered by your answering machine so you could pay full attention to closing the sale? You know, the old "bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" idea.

If the most product knowledgeable people, those with the most sales skills are behind the counter, are we not doing the same thing? After all, haven't most people at the counter already made up their mind as to what they want? Isn't the job of the person at the counter primarily to get the item off of a shelf in the back and write up a ticket?

So, when a potential customer is wandering around the sales floor looking at all of those displays that you have spent time and effort creating, shouldn't we have the best of our sales staff out there to greet them?

While we are expecting that everyone you have hired has a pleasant personality around customers, doesn't it seem logical to have those with less sales skills behind the counter where we would expect there to be less of a need for those sales skills?

If you make these changes, whether it is for only for a part of each work day, or reassigning entire jobs, you should soon be seeing a higher percentage of sales closed with the customers that are walking into your show room.

And, what about that other person behind the counter? You know, the owner or manager. And what if this person is the best sales person in our business?

With many people who were brought into the business by their parents, they were fortunate to have parents that started their children at the lowest job in the business. There was none of this, "This is my child and someday they will own this business".

The only way the "heir apparent" was going to get to the top of the company was if they would work their way up. So it is most likely that this next generation would be very good at each of the basic tasks within the business. After all, they had a good teacher that spent a lot of time with this person, making sure they learned the details of each job.

What the next generation is least likely to have learned from their parents is the difference in working in the business and working on the business.

Working in the business is described as doing things that other people can be hired to do. Working on the business is performing the duties that only an owner or manager can do.

Some of these duties may include, working on plans for next year, reviewing your advertising budget, rewriting the schedule for your staff, looking at new product niches, and even shopping the competition.

When you go to work tomorrow, try this exercise to help you see the difference in the two. Keep track of all the tasks you perform during the day; not necessarily down to the minute, but get a good idea of how much time you spend doing each duty. Then when you go home, look at the list and see how many duties you have performed that could be done by somebody else.

If you spent the first part of the day opening the store, couldn't you create a written procedure that could be shared with a trusted employee so that they could handle that duty? And if you spent a sizable part of the day waiting on customers, wouldn't you get some time to work on the business by working to educate your staff to become better sales people?

This can be accomplished by having bi-weekly staff meetings where you discuss product knowledge and practice your customer service techniques.

Perhaps you spend part of your day in the office, but only doing routine chores like verifying invoices, writing checks, and doing the daily check up of the cash drawers. These may be duties that could be achieved by using someone part time in the office. Of course, you will want to make sure you have security checks and balances in place when you give these duties to someone else. But this could be time gained for you to work ON the business.

As you look again at the routine from the day just spent, unless you are a very sizable business, you are not going to need your entire work week available to work ON the business, but everyone does need SOME time to work ON the business.

If you always work in the business, you will continue to get the same results you have always gotten. When you work ON the business, you open yourself to opportunities to grow your business. You open yourself to improving the profitability of your business by reducing expenses, increasing margins, and adding new opportunities.

Think about someone walking into your business and asking a question. Most likely the question is something like, "What are you working ON, today?" It is not, "What are you working IN, today?"

Let the question serve as a reminder question to yourself. Are you working ON your business, or just IN your business?

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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