Regardless of the economic outlook, you can rest assured that many people will be in your stores this holiday season. They may be working with a tighter budget, or they may not. They may be more discerning, or they may not. Whatever happens you still need to be prepared. There are things you need to do to have your store, your staff, your management team and your merchandise ready.
Here are some Holiday Season Tips – the first of our Holiday Season Tips Series, to help you make sure you’re doing everything you can to make the most of the holiday traffic that comes into your store:
Study History – Get out last year’s sales records, promotional calendar and staff schedules. Study them to see if there is anything you might do differently this year. If you were the Manager last year, try to remember the things that really caused things to breakdown. Learn from those things and safeguard against those same things happening again this year. Hint: If you do not already do this, make a point of noting all of the things that work really well and the things that don’t so you you’ll have the benefit of that information next holiday season.
Schedules – The Backbone of your Store -Make schedules for the 11 weeks (w/e November 13, 2010 to w/e January 22, 2011). Based on your sales targets, you need to figure out what kind of floor coverage you will need for each of the 11 weeks. These can be mock schedules but they should fairly represent what your actual schedule should look like. It is during the making of these mock schedules that you will come up with your plan for the holiday season with regard to floor coverage, stock replenishment, shipping/receiving, cashiers, greeters, fitting room coverage, recovery of the store throughout the day and at night, etc. You’ll get a very good idea of how many temporary employees you should hire. Hint: Once you know how many temporary employees you will need, hire 4 more.
The reason you will want to schedule well into January 2011 is because of the trend toward the purchase of gift cards. After the main holiday event, many customers will come into your store to spend their gift card. You need to be as ready for them as you were for the pre-holiday gift buyers. So, whatever you do, don’t become complacent in January.
Employee Illness – Try to recall from last year: Did a lot of employees call in sick? Were there certain days where you were left without proper coverage? How did that affect your business? Were the temporary employees trained well enough to really add value to your business? What can you do to avoid the pitfalls of last year? Hints: 1) hire more temporary workers and train them better 2)make sure your regular staff are considered when making the schedule – the needs of the business comes first, of course, but your regular employees will have some particular dates that they really need to have off for family gatherings and holiday preparation 3) send sick workers home so as not to spread illness to customers and other staff members 4) make sure you are not working certain employees so hard that they become exhausted or disillusioned.
Staff Meetings – Don’t forget to schedule time for management team meetings and staff meetings. Some of the meetings will be short touch base meetings and others may be educational. Still others should be for fun and celebration. Remember, everyone is stressed during the holidays and anything you can do to make your employees’ lives a little better during this busy time will probably pay dividends. Hint: Appoint someone to organize a pot luck luncheon for some of your busiest days. This accomplishes two things. 1) it promotes a sense of camaraderie among regular and temporary employees and 2) it saves them from having to fight the line ups at the food courts; giving them more time off of their feet.
Maintenance – Always important but now is the time to make certain that all of your light fixtures are working; your exit signs are lit, your fire extinguishers have been checked, your flooring and carpets have no turned up edges that can trip people, your POS and printers are working properly, your doors or door grills are in good repair, ceiling ducts are clean and dust free, fitting rooms are clean and welcoming, shelves are firmly in place to avoid accidents, no chipped glass anywhere, no rough edges on sign holders, the back room is well organized, the plumbing (if any) and any illuminated store signage is working properly. You won’t want to be spending valuable on floor and customer time taking care of pesky maintenance issues that could be taken care of in advance. Emergencies aside, your concentration needs to be elsewhere so…get it done now.
Watch for the Holiday Season Tips #2, coming soon.
All the Success!
PS. To make the most out of the upcoming holiday season, utilize the tips, techniques and tools that are in DMSRetail’s Super Retail Success Bundle – go here: http://www.dmsretail.com/superbundle.htm