That’s a Good Problem! Or is it? Dealing with Too Much Work

Nearly every business I know is going through an extremely busy time. After over a year of COVID protocols, many people are now traveling, going out to eat and making purchases they put off due to the uncertainty. 

At Kona Impact, we are very busy with new business openings and helping established businesses refresh, rejuvenate and change from a survival to a growth mindset.

I couldn’t help but notice that our Toyota and Honda dealers have almost no inventory–at least their parking lots are 80% empty now. I see lines of people waiting at restaurants, and we all know about the unavailability of rental cars on the island. 

It is a crazy time. 

The downside is that we’re seeing price increases on just about everything. Our latest big order from the Mainland had half the order on backorder and what they did ship was 15-30% more than just five months ago. There is not a business that we know of that isn’t looking for qualified and reliable employees. 

At Kona Impact we are certainly not complaining about how much work we have, but we are ever mindful that our customers have come to rely on us for quick turnaround, which is something we can’t guarantee on all projects right now. 

Here are a few strategies we have use:

Give Customers a Good Timeline for Completion – We try to be upfront with our customers about when a job can be completed. Most jobs are still finished within a few days, but due to our staffing and material constraints, we do have to set some completion dates a week or two out. I believe that most can wait, and if not, I want to at least give them enough information so that they can make the best decision for their business.

Refusing Some Jobs – This is something that we never want to do, but we have found that it’s best to not take on some jobs. We often get subcontractor inquiries for installs at local locations, which we now don’t even submit bids to do. We also try to get some of the jobs that we may not be a good fit for to other local businesses. 

Going Heavy on Inventory – Like all businesses, we look at inventory as potential revenue, but most of the time we see that as money sitting on the shelf, money that we can’t spend. In these times, though, we do not see price inflation abating for many supplies, so buying now will save us money in the long run. We also want to ensure we have what our customers want. Right now we’re making our material orders for what we anticipate we’ll need for the Ironman World Championships, which won’t happen for another four months. We’d usually wait for a month out.

Better Internal Systems –  We invested quite a bit into a new cloud phone system for our office and have adopted some new project management tools. These help us manage the chaos.

Grinding it Out  – There’s no substitute for working more. We’ve added extra work time, and it’s a common occurrence to see us in the office more often than not on weekends now. 

We’ve found that there is no magic bullet–there seldom is–for dealing with the times we’re in. I always try to keep this all in perspective though: just a year ago many of our clients were facing the existential crisis of having no customers. We did OK last year, but when I look back at the lean times at Kona Impact, I am always extremely grateful for the good times.