The Payroll Blog

News, tips, and advice for small business owners

Busy Season Roundtable: Part 1 of 2

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What are your peers doing to prepare for busy season?

Prepare the family for what's ahead

Work-life balance may seem easy until work becomes unbalanced.   The tasks associated with running a household and family still need to be handled, there is just less time to manage these things.

  • Schedule designated family time: Make time for your family during the busy season.  Whether time spent together centers on an activity, an adventure, or a meal shared, family time matters.
  • Paying the bills: If you handle the task of paying bills in your household, consider setting up auto-pay or prepare envelopes and checks in advance.  If you share a calendar with your family, make notes on the calendar as reminders of when bills are due rather than risk missing a due date because you are busier than expected.    
  • Free yourself from recurring stressors:In a perfect world, as your workload increased outside of the home, tasks you usually manage would be handled by others sharing the same roof.  However perfect your world may be, consider tasks that may possibly be left undone or those that you could eliminate from your schedule during the busy season. For example:
    • No time for cleaning or yard maintenance? Hire and schedule a service provider.
    • No time to prepare a bag lunch for school age children? Sign your kids up for the school's hot lunch program.
    • No time for grocery shopping?  Connect with a grocery delivery service to help.

Prepare the office and think beyond your desk

Think beyond the expected preparations such as checklists, binders, tax law changes, cleaning your desk and updating brochures.  Consider how clients and prospects experience your office from the time they arrive to the time they leave.  Does your space convey the message that you are a trusted advisor?

  • Parking lot, sidewalk and landscape.  This area should be clean, well-lit and groomed.
  • Entry way and waiting area.  This area should also be clean, well-lit and inviting.  If the carpet or rugs are stained, have them laundered.  If the doors, windows and ledges are dirty, refresh them. Stock up on new issues of popular monthly magazines and consider playing easy-listening music in your waiting area.
  • Refreshments. Consider providing refreshments for clients such as bottled water, coffee and individually wrapped snacks and mints.

Prepare the staff

Talk to your staff and make sure they understand their role and your expectations during the busy season.  As workloads increase, so too will the likelihood of interruptions at everyone's desks.  Communicate the importance of limiting interruptions for others.  Teach your staff how to table issues they cannot resolve easily, or how to involve others based on accountability and areas of expertise.

Help your staff through the busy season by trying to keep their mood light. Consider these in-office ideas and surprise them weekly:

  • chair masseuse
  • fruit basket
  • chocolate dipped strawberries
  • gourmet chocolates
  • lunch
  • Party sub sandwich

Prepare for client meetings

Setting the stage requires some forethought.  Consider these tips as you prepare your office for client meetings:

  • Develop a "to-do list" for cleaning up your database to ensure you have the most accurate information for every client.
  • Update handouts.
  • Categorize your "A" and "B" list clients; then prepare a talking point list for each that would includethings they can expect in the year ahead. For small to mid-size firms, this is where you add real value and differentiate yourself from larger or franchise firms who might not have the time to arrange one-on-one strategic planning meetings for A/B clients.
  • If you are considering a Facebook company page or if you already have one, ask clients to add your business to their "Likes."