Summer 2012 brings with it a number of opportunities and difficulties for UK businesses. With an additional public holiday in June for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and the London Olympics in July and August, there will be an inevitable impact, not only on London, but on the UK as a whole. Work efficiency is likely to suffer as a result. But what can businesses do to prepare for a decline in productivity over this period? Thomas Vollrath, chief executive of Webfusion warns companies that they must factor in planning well in advance to ensure they are prepared for an adverse impact on sales, and that they capitalise on opportunities offered through marketing.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research recently estimated that each bank holiday costs the UK in the region of £2.3 billion. While the Olympics does not bring any official public holidays, there will no doubt be some disruption to daily working life, as more visitors use the public transport system and overload infrastructure, and the focus of the country may be elsewhere.
While this may sound alarmist, last year’s Royal Wedding celebrations did indeed have an impact on many businesses in the form of both reduced sales and productivity. Although it is important to advocate a healthy work-life balance, it is essential to plan ahead for reduced working hours. As the UK falls back into recession, preparation is key to staying on top.
Maintain high standards
So what can businesses do to ensure they are equipped for a possible downturn in activity? Most importantly, particularly for customer focused organisations, is the need to guarantee that your clients do not experience any decline in standards of service. It is also vital to plan far ahead to ensure that staff levels are more than adequate, and that any temporary staff are thoroughly trained to cope with issues that may arise. Remember not everyone will be celebrating; many will still be requiring products and services as usual. Online businesses in particular might in fact see an uplift in customer traffic, as more people are at home rather than at work.
Flexible working conditions
It may be beneficial to enforce more flexibility in working conditions during the busy Olympics period. If staff are going to experience longer journeys during peak travel times, the opportunity to work an early or later shift could be offered. Or perhaps introduce a home working policy for the month of August – it is far more beneficial than working hours spent wasted in traffic.
With customers ‘out and about’ during public holidays, there is also an opportunity to increase marketing efforts for those on the move through smartphone applications. Mobile apps may still encourage people to make purchases on the go.
Taking advantage of key milestones and dates
Despite the obvious challenges the forthcoming celebrations and holidays bring, they also generate opportunities. In the domain industry, we have seen surges in registrations for URLs which piggyback onto key milestones and dates. It is also worth bearing in mind, however, that there are strict brand guidelines around using London 2012 trademarks, designs and protected words.
While this summer will be an exciting one for the UK, and in particular for the tourist industry, some businesses will inevitably experience a downturn in productivity and therefore risk a negative impact on profits. However, as long as any opportunities are maximised, and thorough preparation undertaken, businesses could potentially turn this apparent threat into an advantage.