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How to eliminate scheduling inefficiencies in your business

by Ana Lopez
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What do salons, consultancies and home service providers all have in common? This question may seem like the main setup for a joke, but there’s no punch line to look forward to. While the above industries may seem worlds apart, they have one common need: calendar scheduling.

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Many companies use planning approaches that are unfortunately riddled with inefficiencies. If the scheduling processes you use for your business are not effective, they can translate to dissatisfied customers and lost profits. But there is no reason to despair! Here are six ways you can eliminate scheduling inefficiencies in your business.

Inefficiency #1: multiple calendars

It’s natural to want to keep your personal and professional schedules separate so colleagues can’t interfere with your private affairs. But using multiple calendars can cloud your scheduling processes and make things much more difficult organize your time effective.

If you can’t view all of your calendars at once, you’re more likely to have accidental scheduling conflicts. This can lead to embarrassment on the road. It is unprofessional to cancel a client appointment because you have a doctor’s appointment scheduled at the same time.

The solution: combine multiple calendars in one location

Use scheduling software that combines multiple calendars in one location to streamline your scheduling processes and avoid unwanted conflicts. Look for software that collects multiple calendars in one place. This eliminates the need to switch between calendars when scheduling meetings, appointments, and more shifts.

To get around privacy concerns, choose scheduling software that allows you to set viewing rights for calendar events. This feature helps you keep your personal calendar events (and even professional meetings) out of prying eyes.

Inefficiency #2: Staff shortages

Staff shortages are nothing new for most industries, but have become more common in recent years. Worldwide there is an alarming labor shortage to fill available vacancies. A high ‘exit rate’, a high proportion of retired employees and other factors contribute to the current staff shortage.

Although you as an employer have no influence on many of these factors, you can still take action. You can’t control the global workforce shortage, but you can take steps to ensure your company is properly staffed.

The solution: build a healthy workforce pool

When running a schedule-based business, it is imperative to have enough team members to make and keep appointments. The best way to do this is to build a healthy workforce from the ground up. Make sure your hiring process effectively weeds out bad and irresponsible applicants so you get the cream of the crop.

Once you have the right team, you need to take steps to keep them. Regular pay raises, paid time off, and corporate recognition events can go a long way in improving employee retention rates. But apart from these incentives, you should do everything you can support mental health and well-being of your employees. Encourage work-life balance and stress management to boost morale and keep team members happy where they are.

Inefficiency #3: Overplanning

Overscheduling is a common problem across multiple industries. But this way of doing business has real consequences that can be devastating to both your business and your staff. Forcing employees to work long hours (more than 55 hours per week) leads to hundreds of thousands dead annual. Don’t contribute to this metric by intentionally over-scheduling your team members.

In addition to the major health risks for your staff, overscheduling also poses a direct risk to your company. Overworking your employees will eventually cause burnout and increase the likelihood of people calling in sick when they are not. If you consistently overwork your employees, they are more likely to quit. This can lead to missed events and rearranged schedules, which can frustrate your customers and affect your bottom line.

The solution: Give employees enough time between shifts

If you want maximum efficiency from your employees (which translates into improved customer satisfaction), you can’t over schedule them. Just like you, your employees need sufficient rest to function optimally.

There are several things you can do to prevent your employees from becoming overworked. Start building a culture of care at work. Let your team members know that you are concerned about their well-being and want to help them achieve a healthy work-life balance. Then follow up on that feeling by giving employees plenty of time to rest between shifts. Aim to schedule a break of at least 12 hours between shifts.

Inefficiency #4: Lack of Availability

Many companies employ both full-time and part-time employees. Some even have a hybrid work model that allows employees to alternate between working remotely and in the office. Variations in work schedules can make it difficult to fill staff shortages at certain times of the day.

The lack of availability can become even greater during the holidays when employees want to take extra time off. Staff availability challenges can lead to scheduling issues with customers. If you can’t meet your clients’ scheduling needs, you could lose their business.

The solution: Hire a well-balanced team

To avoid the ubiquitous problem of staff shortages, you need to hire a balanced team. Ensure that some employees are consistently scheduled during the day, while others are scheduled for night shifts. When hiring part-time employees, choose team members who can work alternating days so that you always have enough coverage.

If you expect your existing employees to be less available during the holidays, plan ahead. Hire seasonal employees to help you through the busy season, while your full-time employees schedule more time off.

Inefficiency #5: Last minute absences

If there’s one thing that’s certain in life, it’s that unexpected things happen. Medical emergencies, illnesses and deaths in the family can disrupt the most carefully planned schedules. Employees can call in sick at the last minute or fail to show up, leaving your customers in the dumps.

The worst thing you can do when you’re absent last minute is to panic or lose your temper. Your time is better spent figuring out how to find someone else to fill the shift. Your primary goals should be to keep customers happy and, if possible, avoid canceling customer meetings.

The solution: offer incentives to fill the shift

Finding staff to fill unexpected absences doesn’t have to feel like grinding your teeth. If you offer incentives such as extra time off or holiday pay, employees will be more willing to join. You can also check your schedule to see who is still on duty that day. Then see if they want to come a few hours earlier or later to fill the vacancy.

Inefficiency #6: Disorganization

Disorganization is one of the most common inefficiencies in business planning. If you’re using outdated methods to schedule client meetings and staff shifts, it’s probably time for a change.

Gone are the days when companies used paper calendars and pencils to record meetings. Not only are these methods inefficient, but they are also a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to make mistakes when you rely on old-fashioned methods to create and manage multiple calendar events and meetings.

The solution: Use calendar scheduling software

Modern scheduling software now reigns supreme for schedule-based businesses, and it’s easy to see why. Best online calendar programs are user-friendly and versatile and make it easy to use avoid double bookings. They can also merge multiple calendars so you can see all your professional and personal appointments at once.

Some scheduling software programs have additional features, such as analytics, to show you which customers you spend the most time with. This feature can be useful for prioritizing time with your most productive and profitable customers.

Don’t let your business get bogged down in scheduling inefficiencies that can negatively impact customer satisfaction and employee morale. Use these tips to streamline your scheduling processes and ensure you always have enough staff to keep meetings on the agenda.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by energepic.com; Pexels; Thank you!

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