Peak Season Preparation: New Tech or More Employees?

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Plan for your peak season

While a peak season is great for profitability, it adds other challenges to the books. Should you opt for newer, more efficient technology, or take the route of adding a seasonal workforce? Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between. Here are a few things to consider when ramping up for any busy season.

New Technology

The Good

Technology constantly pushes boundaries, reducing impossible challenges to everyday events. Here are a few things you can expect when opting for new tech.

It’s (relatively) cost-effective
You can frequently invest a new piece of technology — whether machinery or software — for less than the cost of hiring a seasonal workforce. New technology adds production value almost immediately, whereas new employees take time to onboard and train. And once your busy season is over, you get to keep what you’ve paid for!

Technology is easy to scale up and down
The beauty of technology is that you get out of it what you put into it. Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said of hiring more people. If you find your new investment isn’t quite meeting your expectations, there are a host of options available, such as training, investing further for more functionality, or even changing solutions. 

If you opt for a subscription service, you can end your subscription as soon as it’s no longer needed. Granted, the same could be said about hiring additional employees, but cancelling a subscription is far easier than hiring and firing.

There are tons of options
Beyond flexibility, there are nearly limitless options to choose from when adding to your technology stack during a peak season. When searching for a software solution, for example, it doesn’t take long to realize there is a wide range of options available. And while this can make picking the perfect solution difficult, it allows more freedom in finding a solution that best fits your needs.

The Bad

While being on the cutting edge offers no shortage of benefits, it incurs some costs, too. Here are disadvantages to look out for.

Learning curves
The learning curve will change depending on the complexity of your new solution, but even the simplest offerings require training. Stay ahead of the curve by holding regular training sessions, keeping all users at their maximum efficiency level.

Difficult deployments
While a solution that offers an easy rollout is a boon to scaling a business, real-world experience has proved that deploying new technology invites delays, overspending, and potentially, ending up with a solution that doesn’t meet the needs of your business. Research potential technology upgrades thoroughly to avoid a product that’s too complex to efficiently put in place.

A sea of options
While the multitude of options available make new technology look appealing, the other side of the coin isn’t quite as shiny. Finding the right solution in a sea of offerings frequently leads to confusion and frustration, or even analysis paralysis.

Increasing Headcount

The Good

Hiring more employees might be a good option for your business during peak seasons. Sometimes, it’s not about getting a shiny new toy, but about getting another pair of hands. When going for the traditional route of ramping up a workforce, here are some of the benefits to expect.

  • People provide motivation, energy, and new ideas
  • Can be a very fast solution — as fast as your hiring process allows
  • It’s an opportunity to find excellent long-term employees who help a business grow
  • A new employee can handle a wider array of tasks than most technology solutions.

The Bad

There are some excellent reasons to add human capital to your operations, but that doesn’t mean hiring more employees comes entirely without risk. When adding to your company’s roster, beware of these pitfalls.

Cost
Obviously, each employee you hire will need to be paid. If you’re hiring an entire team or extra shift, you’re investing a ton of resources that could have been dedicated to another area of your business.

Beyond the wages you’ll pay those new employees, the processes of searching for, hiring, and onboarding incur significant costs. Vetting applicants takes a lot of time and energy. So much so, that it can be tempting to hire without properly reviewing the applicant’s work history. This all to common mistake leads to bad hires, short tenures, and starting the process all over again, and it’s clearly an issue you want to avoid. Which leads us to …

Hiring isn’t “one and done”
Unlike technology, which is generally purchased (or subscribed to) in a single expenditure or monthly expense, hiring employees requires a major ongoing effort. Even when you make a great hire, emergencies happen and someone might have to leave. Adding and removing individuals from your payroll might become a frequent occurrence, so be prepared for the extra administration that comes with increased hiring efforts.

Increased employee churn
Increasing employment numbers for a peak season requires an annual effort in hiring and layoffs — a seasonal cycle many would prefer to avoid. Apart from the costs associated with hiring, the mental effort and time it takes to increase employee headcount can leave HR feeling burned out, or even unable to keep up on other responsibilities, a detriment to organizational health.

Why Not Both?

As with most things in life, the best solution lies somewhere in the middle. The trick is finding the right balance between the new technology and the correct amount of employees to offset the inherent weaknesses of each method. Plan these operational changes six months in advance to make sure you’re ready when peak season hits, and your busy time of year can be a highly profitable one.

To see how technology can further accelerate your operations during peak season, sign up for your own personalized demo. An efficient upgrade to your existing tech will supercharge every stage of distribution for your company. Why not see for yourself?

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