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No Such Thing as Too Much Butter

June 13, 2022 By The Siren Of Support Leave a comment

This weekend I threw an epic graduation party for my daughter. I spent the better half of last week making lists, gathering necessities, cooking and baking. Everyone knows to arrive with empty bellies and a strong appetite. Thursday morning, I had one hundred and twenty cupcakes made and cooling but needed butter for the frosting to complete the project. 

By Saturday morning every to-do was crossed off. The dips and sides were complete. The grills were ready to cook a mass quantity of meat. The cupcakes were frosted and boxed and ready for consumption. As the day progressed guests came and went. Food was devoured. I made sure everyone ate, and then pushed them to eat some more. There was an abundance of leftovers and four extra pounds of butter. 

When questioned regarding the extra butter, I simply responded with, “Well, I bought extra. There’s no such thing as too much butter, it’ll get used”. 

How can you ever ensure that you have enough? Enough staff, sufficient supplies, plentiful demand for your product or services. The key to productivity and profitability is finding and maintaining the balance between who you need to get the job done and the quantity of work without sacrificing quality or service level. 

Workload varies day by day, sometimes by the hour. Friday’s are generally slower, while Monday promises to keep the teams on their toes. We generally slow down during the holiday season, but can’t seem to catch up come tax time. While the demand for products or services ebbs and flows, we can not allow our workforce to. We have to have the right amount of staff that when business is booming, calls are getting answers and products are manufactured and shipped. We can not risk service or quality gaps just because we are unprepared to be busy. 

But what about those times you seem to have overstaffed? How do you justify down time? What is the secret to achieving equilibrium? 

  • Look At the Data: The numbers don’t lie. 
    • Evaluating when your business’s busy times are will allow you to staff properly.
    • Flexible scheduling to provide coverage where needed will not only provide high service levels to customers but will also allow you to be creative and give your team fluidity in work hours. 
    • Shift changes such as four ten hour days or flex time to cover overtime are feasible solutions to coverage.

I failed to acknowledge that twenty percent of those invited are expected not to attend. My data failure leaves me with sixty cupcakes, 25 burgers and a lot of brats. 

  • Create Other Opportunities for Work: “If you got time to lean, you got time to clean”. 
    • It is unavoidable that there will be times that the orders aren’t pouring in, the bays sit empty, the phone isn’t ringing off the hook. 
    • Use this time to clean up any outstanding tasks or allow it to be used for professional development. 
    • Make it easy to keep busy. Make it known that downtime isn’t for slacking, but rather just for a different type of work.

There was definitely no downtime before, during or after the event. Sunday morning was for cleaning and coffee but not leaning.

  • Hire the Right People: And make changes as needed. 
    • Look for those with a proven history of a strong work ethic. 
    • Time management skills and the ability to work smarter not harder will get you the most bang for your hourly buck. 
    • Find those that can seek a solution rather than making excuses.

My guests that ate before arriving may never be invited back. 

  • Systems Evaluation: Are the systems the teams depend on sufficient and support the business processes that are in place?
    • A laggy system or a program that is difficult to navigate will slow your teams down and make the workload appear greater than it is. 
    • Smarter systems and automation can reduce the number of people needed. 

I surely would have needed an extra hand if I was without my mixer for cupcake day. 

As you watch your teams struggle to keep up and do more with less, ask yourself would you rather be over, or understaffed? I challenge you to add the extra person, evaluate your systems, and take a closer look at the qualities of the people on your teams. 

I may have over cooked and under invited, but my nights are free from dinner making for at least a week. Plenty of downtime to find a recipe that calls for four pounds of butter.

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