Seamless Take-Offs and Landings
Starting out, this business can seem like it’s exploding one moment, and fizzling the next. When exploding, it’s easy to feel like we are barreling toward a bright, uncertain, fiery end, with our parts being thrashed around and coming loose. These times are exciting and all-consuming. Once we climax at a shining glorious event, we fizzle back to reality, thin, used up, and with a smile on our faces. As we come to, we are surrounded with the neglected routine to resume. Oops.
I had a little moment of clarity this past month regarding how this company will function as we grow bigger. Luckily, it aligns with goal number 4 of our little manifesto in our first post. And I think it’s going to go far in terms of providing the kind of consistency that we need. While it’s normal to focus heavily on an urgent event, we need to keep our long-term goals in check with systems and routines. Here’s what we did this month to handle a surprising number of large events during a typically slow period:
- Hire flexible people early, get them trained. Pull back in employees from busy times. Test out new techniques and materials early.
- Hire professionals on a project basis to handle management of a few key areas. This month, we had someone in charge of procuring items (fancy speak for driving around gettin’ stuff) and floral design. We added people to our buying accounts and ordered AMEX cards for our employees for hassle free purchasing.
- Delegate the pieces: A few key pieces were doled out to employees. They became responsible for following through on the complications that arose with each piece. Rather than me as lead on every piece, I became the orchestrator who tried to support the people making everything. This became essential when the inevitable hang up occurred. I was available to either jump in and help, or switch our team to a new direction. Without my head into the specifics of each piece, I was able to move resources around to the most urgent needs. We also had one employee who managed incoming inquiries and normal day-to-day requests. She followed up with everyone and scheduled consultations.
- Remove yourself as a barrier. Each person was used where they were most effective and removed where they were not. For example, I know that I don’t have the best tact nor do I speak clearly when exhausted, so it was best to put one of our managers in charge during the client walk throughs. Same goes for staffing the event.
- Reign in your perfectionism. Quality is essential but when one little detail is slowing progress, it’s important to identify if that detail is essential. If not, work around it or eliminate it and move on.
- Tap into your resources. It’s difficult to anticipate everything that can go wrong, but being resourceful helps to smooth out the inevitable hang ups. In one extreme case, during a particularly overwhelming task, we called everyone we knew in to assist. We even posted a Craigslist ad at 9pm for ‘people with hammers’ to come in to work late that night. We were overwhelmed with interest. While we didn’t end up using the Craigslist people, that opened up a new avenue of help if things ever got so hairy. We now have a screened list of on call handy people who are willing to work all hours. Awesome.
What we did let slide a bit was our marketing and social media efforts. We’ll be looking into ways to create content that’s ready to go for busy times such as this. Marketing we’ve learned we need to do year round- even in busy times as it’s about a 3-6 month lag before we see results from many marketing efforts.
Any suggestions on tools for maintaining consistency?