Labor Shortages Impacting Small Business Operations and Growth

Business Communication Stats

Is your small business experiencing a labor shortage preventing you from servicing your customers as well as you like?  You are not alone.

A September survey of 4,000 restaurants by the National Restaurant Association shows that 71% of restaurants are understaffed and 44% are not operating at full capacity.  Starbucks is also understaffed leading to employees feeling overworked and quitting.

And it’s not just the food industry that is still struggling to recover from COVID shutdowns.   Drive down any main street and you will see “Now Hiring” signs everywhere.  On shop windows, restaurants, coffee houses, on the sides of local service vehicles as well as long-haul trucks.  Even healthcare is experiencing drastic reductions in the workforce despite COVID concerns.

A perfect storm on the heels of a pandemic recovery, Government-funded stimulus checks served to encourage lengthy work sabbaticals, older workers chose early retirement and rising wages placed small business into a financial maelstrom.

Confounding expectations, work-from-home has resulted in a marked increase in revenue – for home services businesses.  The unexpected increase in demand for HVAC, plumbing and electrical has seen some of these businesses grow by 50% or more in the past year.  This increase in customer demand also requires increased support, not just from technicians but from front-office staff as well.  With those staff increasingly hard to come by, each unanswered call equals a missed customer.

Running a small business is challenging enough, but running one that is constantly understaffed? Risky.

Here are the Top 5 risks for the understaffed SMB:

  1. Not responding to new leads quickly enough, leading to a loss of sales and revenue. The average SMB misses one-third of their inbound calls.  If you’ve spent the marketing dollars to drive inbound traffic, it’s imperative that you respond to inquiries fast.  And what is fast? You increase your chances of converting a lead by 75% – if you respond within 5 minutes.
  2.  Not responding to existing customers quickly enough.  Customers are increasingly expecting multiple communication channels (think chat, SMS, phone and email) and are more than ever willing to move their business elsewhere based on just one bad experience.  The inability to communicate with customers how they prefer, means that businesses will lose customers to those that offer omni-channel communication.
  3. Reduced hours, customer satisfaction and impact on your company’s star ratings.  Understaffed businesses, while receiving their fair share of empathy from consumers, also risk damage to their brand and reputation.  Long lines and grumpy service from overworked employees is an increasing concern.
  4. Overworked staff leaving your company. It’s hard enough to bring on a new hire and train them for success but it’s now becoming just as hard to keep new employees on the job.  Stressful, overworked conditions are taking their toll, especially on newer hires who don’t feel it’s worth it to work in today’s demanding environments.   
  5. Stress and health impacts. Job related stress impacts everyone involved – the health of employers and employees and even their home lives.  Stress contributes to understaffing which contributes to more stress which contributes to more understaffing….  

Backup your Headcount Using Low-Cost Automation

In an understaffed scenario, AI-driven automated services like the Agentz digital receptionist can provide the additional support that the SMB needs.  The digital receptionist will respond to all leads including missed calls, website contacts and SMS inquiries.  It will also engage each website visitor, helping them navigate to the information they need, capture qualified leads and appointment requests.

Benefits of the Agentz digital receptionist:

  1. Works 24/7. The Agentz digital receptionist works every hour of every day to engage with your customers providing answers and support, especially when you can’t.
  2. No sick days and will never quit. With an uptime of 99.99%, the Agentz digital receptionist is a reliable team member you can count on every day.  Even on holidays!
  3. Never feels overworked. Your digital receptionist won’t feel stressed out and, in fact, will alleviate some of the stress from your shoulders.  Sleep well knowing that your customers are being attended to.
  4. Your employees will benefit. Already pressured, your staff will appreciate knowing that the digital receptionist has their back.  Happy employees equals happy customers!
  5. Save on payroll costs. At only 4% of the cost of an employee earning $40k a year, including benefits, the digital receptionist will be your most cost-efficient “employee.”

While your digital receptionist will engage with and communicate with your customers on your website, your Facebook page, missed calls and SMS, it will also answer questions about your business using its out-of-the-box knowledgebase.  Fully customizable, you can let the digital receptionist do all the work or give it the option to alert you when a customer needs live help.  

Totally flexible, the Agentz digital receptionist is designed to be easy to set up, easy for customers to use and easy for your business to capture new customers.  Easy!

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