A common situation for almost every retailer during this time of year. How do we successfully ‘man the oars’ during this tidal wave of customers? Whatever you do, understand how important this process is to your success. Doing it right (or not!) will dictate whether you ‘sink or swim’!
The common approach to this challenge is to race out and hire ‘temporary’ staff to fill the store. Then we fervently hope and pray that these seasonal helpers will work out (or at least show up so you don’t have to work an 80 hour week!). But pity the poor customer who is confronted by one of these neophytes. What is she typically faced with? No product knowledge, no idea of where to find anything in the store, no clue about store policies, no authority to make a decision and, worst of all, no motivation to offer a superior shopping experience. Why? Because these ‘helpers’ know that when January rolls around, they’re ‘out the door’. In this situation, how hard would you try?
But don’t despair. It doesn’t have to be like this! Turn this age-old situation around in your store this season. Follow these simple ideas to get your seasonal staff up to speed quickly and efficiently:
- Determine the key information that these ‘new kids’ will need to be successful. (There will be little time to develop skills.)
- Consider running a series of 2 or 3 ‘mini-orientation’ workshops for your new temp staff. Teaching them what they need in a group setting is a far more productive use of your time.
- Make them feel like part of the team. At a minimum, do the obvious and introduce them to everyone. Do what you can to make them feel comfortable.
- Give them highly-structured tasks and roles. The more specific you can be about what you want them to do, the more likely they’ll succeed at doing it. Don’t even try to get them to ‘think outside the box’.
- Make sure that constant reporting and strong supervision are in place to boost individual accountability for performance.
- Make it worthwhile … use plenty of contests, incentives and games.
- And remember … have fun!