We recently changed our work week; Wednesday through Sunday, five days a week, for the whole year. In the summer we have always been open Tuesdays through Sundays, or six days a week. We have done it for ten years and seemed to always manage to get through the summer. It takes focus on the day to day–no extra projects. And because summer season is really short, only about 6-8 weeks, our stamina with this schedule seemed to work. Six to eight weeks of the core business of hospitality and dinner shows. The pace is rather manic and cannot be sustained any longer than summer season. So, as we enter our eleventh year, we decided to take two days off regardless of season.
A good business decision from the standpoint that only one employee shift is needed for five days a week. That is even challenging to fill all of our summer needs. Our business instincts that tell us our store really needs to be open every day. After all people on vacation rarely know the day of the week or date and they may not be forgiving if they happen to be here on a Tuesday and it is our day off. Needless to say, the decision to close two days is a very tough one to make.
As always we still need a few more associates to round out our summer schedule this year. We need a full time dishwasher, day time hours, from 11-5, Wed-Sun. For now Lenore and I come in on Sundays and for the most part we are alone. It has been nice. It reminds us of in the beginning. But to be honest, the quality of life index goes down when there’s more work than we two can do alone, so our reminiscing bliss is short. We also need a full time retail sales clerk for the summer season. Pay for both is above minimum making it a good opportunity for high school juniors or seniors and even retirees who want the work more than the dough.
The balancing act between work and play takes on its own rhythm. The pace of summer yields to a slower pace once fall arrives, though regrettably we’ve have to lay off some employees each September. The core of our business, our dinner shows, goes from one extreme to another; from six nights to two nights a week, leaving us with more down time than we need. It is productive time though, because we use it to get special projects done; such as getting our spice blends to market and figuring how we can make a green/clean sea salt. Winter is the time we look for new ways to broaden our EVOO brand and perhaps add another source of income. One of these new projects turned out to be more fun and play than work — our tours to Italy with our guests each October. Actually we should make the distinction that by “work” we mean scheduled time. Everything we do has a high element of enjoyment so that taking tours with guests turns out to be our vacation is not a surprise.
While summers have been energizing, exciting and yes, exhausting, sort of like doing a 5K run for a good cause, it is clear we cannot sustain it. We must do something to slow and most importantly, even out the pace. So not only are we cutting summers to five days and nights a week, we are also trying to bring enough business in during shoulder seasons to sustain our five day week schedule all year.
No doubt about it, meeting this all year goal may allow us to keep our full time staff and sanity at the same time! Considering all that our little town has to offer all year round, we think it is doable.