The beach trips are over, the barbecues are less frequent, the kids are back in school and yellow school buses once again ply the streets. With the approach of Labor Day, we all have to prepare for the end of summer and switch back into gear for the fall and winter. This need to switch tracks is just as true at work as it as at home.
For small business owners, this presents unique challenges since you need your employees ‘on point’ and it is essential to hit the ground running. You want your employees healthy, happy and relaxed – but you also want them focused, engaged and attentive to the needs of your business.
With that in mind, here are five steps you can take to re-engage your team for success as they return from summer holidays and trips:
Step 1: Celebrate
Consider hosting an end-of-summer social for your employees or a celebratory fall event to bring everyone together in a relaxed setting. This gives staff a chance to re-engage with one another as colleagues while also allowing for sharing about family vacations and personal adventures over the summer season. It also creates a non-threatening opportunity for employees and management to connect with one another as well.
Step 2: Convene
For many small businesses — especially those in the business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-government (B2G) sectors — the reality is that September is when the new year really starts. You may run your accounting on a calendar year, but your business planning really operates on a fall-to-fall cycle. For B2B companies, this is because fall is the biggest selling season of the year. For B2G companies, it is because the federal fiscal year begins on October 1st, giving you a month to prep new strategies and get back into the saddle as things ramp up.
That is precisely why now is the time to perform strategic planning or create a new sales strategy with your team. Pull key leaders and managers together and engage them during the early fall to set the stage for success during the rest of the year.
Step 3: Connect
Re-engage employees and tee them up for success in sales and customer relationship management by planning events that bring employees and customers together. Consider hosting relaxed customer appreciation events or a combination of these and a new seminar or Lunch & Learn series to re-engage your customers and employees with each other and with your business. In addition, this is a great time to launch new or enhanced product or service offerings.
Step 4: Community
Fall is also an excellent time for your team to engage with the community it serves. Consider partnering with nonprofits for a company service day or half-day that can have a positive impact on the local community. This might be clearing a hiking trail, helping build a house with Habitat for Humanity, or cleaning up an Adopt-a-Highway segment.
Step 5: Compete
Finally, make the early fall a time to start a friendly competition or two within your organization. In addition to sales competitions, consider offering prizes for employees who make the most customer courtesy calls, receive the best ratings from clients, complete the most project activities, etc. — anything to reward energy and re-engagement within each of your critical teams.
By taking these five steps, you will be setting up your small business for success as your team comes back from the vacation season and gets ‘back in the game’ for fall. In fact, these strategies will help you engage not only employees, but also customers and prospects to maximize your opportunities for business growth during the fall and beyond.