How To Balance Tourist Season & Regular Clients

How To Balance Tourist Season & Regular Clients
Hire the same seasonal workers every year so you’re not always starting over with training.

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It’s spring, and summer vacations are right around the corner. Not yours, of course. You’re heading right into your busy season with fairs, festivals, concerts and sporting events being added to your regular workload. A challenge for every PRO operating in tourist country is how to staff for the increased work while keeping up with their regular bread-and-butter accounts. 

Many companies hire temporary staff, perhaps full-time or part-time for the whole summer, or as needed for specific events. The benefit of this approach is you don’t have to keep more people on staff than needed year-round. It’s also a way to support your community by providing employment for people who need summer work, such as high school students. The downsides are that the workers haven’t had enough “face time” to be sufficiently trained, they require more supervision, and they might become disillusioned and quit when you need them most. 

Other companies just buckle down and get everyone to work a lot of overtime. The benefit is you’re working with a trained staff and can then maintain the professionalism people have come to expect from you. The drawbacks are burnout and exhaustion, possibly leading to mistakes, accidents and low morale. 

Here are a few suggestions for some in-between approaches companies have tried: 

1. Hire the same seasonal workers every year so you’re not always starting over with training. Draw from family, semi-retired, newly retired — people whose day jobs slow down in the summer. 

2. Hire just enough full-time permanent employees that you have slightly too many in the winter and slightly too few in the summer. This provides a little wiggle room and some built-in flexibility. Encourage (or require) workers to take vacations in the off-season and to work overtime in the busy season. 

3. Find something to do in the off-season that enables you to keep your staff year-round. This is the approach On Site Sanitation Inc. of St. Paul, Minn., took, says CEO Karen Holm. They added temporary climate control products to their service offerings, providing propane and natural gas-fired heaters for use on winter construction sites as well as hydronic ground heating units, a very labor-intensive service. 

After an initial learning curve this tactic proved very effective to evening out the company’s yearly workload. “It’s very similar to our other work in that it’s the same customer base, and it’s also a rental-based company so we were able to use the same software and trucks,” Holm says. “They lend themselves really well to each other.” 

Good help is hard to find and keep. So are customers. It’s critical to keep up with your regular accounts while also meeting the demands of your seasonal special events. It’s a balancing act but with the right mix you can meet all your obligations, keep everyone happy — and maybe even find time to take a vacation.


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