Your time is in limited supply

small business coaching

There’s no reasonable thinking person that would continue to sell shoes, toasters or appliance parts after their inventory runs out without informing customers of the delay on delivery. You can promise every customer that you can deliver the goods on time, but when the shelf is empty, you’re going to get upset people. You’re also adding stress to your life and potential harm to your well-intentioned reputation.

Yet, every single day, business owners like you and I continue to tell customers yes and add them to a schedule that’s often way over-sold. There’s something in us that creates an aversion to telling customers no or telling them there will be a delay. This is one place where business owners add unnecessary stress to their lives through their own actions. We do it to ourselves!

Your time is your inventory

Your time, measured in hours, is no different than any other inventory item in limited supply. The fact is, there are only 168 hours in a week. There’s only 120 hours in a 5 day work week. That’s it. Then you’re out of stock. If you want to sell any more than that, you’ll have to wait until you get a new shipment next week.

Your time, measured in hours, is no different than any other inventory item in limited supply. The fact is, there are only 168 hours in a week. There’s only 120 hours in a 5 day work week. That’s it. Then you’re out of stock. If you want to sell any more than that, you’ll have to wait until you get a new shipment next week.

All you have to do is now is decide how much time to spend sleeping, eating, driving, showering, paying bills and how much time your family deserves. What’s left? 40, 50, 60 hours? Any time over that has to come from another area of your life. And there in-lies the rub doesn’t it? While you want every sale, every time, you can’t keep everyone happy all of the time. You just can’t. You don’t owe your customers your entire life, so don’t keep giving time you don’t have to people in name of customer service. It’s ok to say no, I can’t take on more business this week.

And don’t forget about your employees

Your employees are feeling the stress too. Especially the ones that are having to field the phone calls from customers that were promised you’d start yesterday. Committed employees are glad to work overtime to help keep up with a spike in work load, especially seasonally, but not forever. Pushing your employees to 50, 60 hours in a week will have significant impact on their home life and physical well-being. Worn out employees equate to employees who get sick and have to call in. And that just complicates your schedule even further.

If the sudden rush of work isn’t just seasonal, or if it’s likely to be the new norm, then go ahead and hire the people needed to keep up with the new demand. Growth is good, if you can handle it. That’s probably the real message here. Know when your resources are tapped out and when to add additional ones. Just understand clearly that adding more to your payroll and additional equipment payments means your growth will need to be sustainable or else you’ll be laying people off, and that’s never a good thing.

Be honest with your customers

If you just take the time to be upfront and honest with your customers (and yourself) about your situation, you’ll find that most people will understand. In fact, most will also appreciate your candor. The customers that value you will wait. Those that won’t wait may not really value you anyway.

So, decide how much time is available this week to sell or give to your customers. When it’s sold, stop. The remaining customers will just have to wait until you have more hours available later. It’s ok to tell folks it’ll be a week or two, or three before you can service them.

I know, I know….

Look, I know it’s harder than it sounds.

I didn’t always heed my own advice. I’m as guilty as you are of trying to do just one more. Just one more. And just more. But you don’t have to over schedule every time. You have to remember that there is a choice, and you are in charge.

Honestly, the fact that you are in such high demand is a good opportunity to charge a rate worthy of your time.

If you’d like more information on how and when to tell customers they have to wait, get in touch with a Part Time Business Partner today!

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