Summer Hours in Sales: Friend or Foe to the Rep and Management?

As summer officially begins and expected heat waves push the thermometer above 100°F, employees start asking, “Can I work summer hours, boss?” This is not an uncommon question as more and more businesses have adopted this flexible schedule in the last few years. In a time of economic tightening, working a few extra hours each day to earn a Friday off or taking one Friday off a month is an inexpensive way for employers to offer a fringe benefit and keep productivity levels up.

Although I expect and appreciate the question—you never get what you don’t ask for—I have always wrestled with this concept when it comes to sales. Here are the challenges I face with summer hours, and also how I respond to my team members when they ask the question:

  • Sales success is the product of dogged, persistent and consistent follow up. How does being off on a Friday help you to produce and hit your goals if that is when your prospect is most available? Does making up your activity number in four days always result in that sale or do you create another obstacle to close?
  • If your Friday off is the last day of the month and you have yet to hit your sales goal for the month, should you take that day off (and do you deserve it) just because you worked a little more on Thursday? How will you hit your objectives?
  • In sales, we’re not hourly employees working 8 to 5 or 9 to 6, we’re not project based and we’re not able to get extra work done at night to complete a task. If your sale requires that you talk to a prospect (in person or over the phone), you work around their schedule.
  • The summer is often the hardest time to connect with prospects and decision makers at all levels. Often the great sales person shines by working hard (the old adage: “When times get tough, the tough get going.” comes in handy here) to maintain their numbers and sales. So why would you want to slow down when you actually need to step it up to continually hit your targets?

Clearly I come from a management perspective aimed to maintain and grow a business all year long. And of course, a list of bullets in favor of summer hours also can be made. The problem I often have is when a rep asks is just at 100% of his goal for the year on June 21st. Or worse, a rep hasn’t met his goal and wants to justify a modified schedule.

As with anything sales related, it is all about the plan. If you want summer hours or to close the office a little early on a Friday to grill out or hit the golf course, I understand. Top producers need to recharge to perform 100% all the time. However, planning for summer hours need to start January 1. Get ahead of your target for the year and come out of the gates swinging.

I can appreciate a request like this from someone who has reached 150% of his goal and demonstrates how a few hours off on a Friday won’t jeopardize his production long term. Plus, it doesn’t hurt if I get an invited to the BBQ!