Archive for November, 2013

Seasonal Temps, like Michelle, Add Value


It’s that time of year again. Many retailers are on a mission to beef up their staff rosters so they’ll have enough floor coverage and extra help, to handle the increased traffic coming into their stores.

And, let’s face it, many of our customers may be subjected to some confused new hires who don’t know as much as they should. But let’s not be too quick to blame those new seasonal employees.

Even though many new seasonal hires may only be with you for a few weeks, they can add a lot of value if you do certain things right. Over the years, both as a customer and as a District/Regional Manager I’ve heard lots of comments about seasonal people…usually implying that something went wrong in service delivery, or mark downs, or visual display, or cleanliness or, whatever… due to the fact that seasonal people were involved.

That’s kind of unfair to them. If you’re going to invest the time and effort to recruit and hire people – seasonal or not – then you’ve got to make the most of the investment. There’s no room for the excuse “s/he’s just a temp” when it comes to your store(s) and your company’s reputation.

One of the greatest benefits of hiring seasonal employees, like the one in the story below, is that you get to see them in action; it’s like a working interview and you can determine quickly and easily if the seasonal employee is someone you’d like to bring on permanently after the holidays.

Lots of retailers get some of their ‘gems’ this way, and here’s why…

People who are looking for seasonal employment may not be your regular job seekers. Some want to get into the workforce temporarily to earn a bit of extra income, and some may want to see if retail is something they’d like. Others may find that it’s easier to land a job when so many employers are trying to find people.

Here’s a true story about one seasonal employee that I hired…

Michelle was new to the country and, although she interviewed very well, you could see that she was a little self conscious about her language skills. It was clear that she was bright, well educated and very enthusiastic about getting the job.

We hired Michelle as a cashier and she worked out very, very well. She was excellent at adding on merchandise at the cash desk.

Then, one day, we needed her to cover out on the sales floor. She was a bit apprehensive but she agreed. Michelle displayed a lot of natural talent but needed a little confidence building.

After a couple of hours of training on the basics of the selling process, she was amazing. Obviously, it helped that she was a very willing student.

Anyway, once she got going, there was no stopping her. And, you guessed it, we hired her on a permanent basis at the end of the season. Definitely a win/win.

Whatever the reason, once hired, many people shine just like Michelle did.

There have always been at least a few seasonal employees that I encouraged Store Managers to hire on a permanent basis following the holiday period.

Of course, there are the others as well…the ones that make you say “What were we thinking?”. You know…the party animals who show up late for their shifts looking like death warmed over, and the chatterboxes, and the timid onesstanding as far away from customers as possible, and the loud, boisterous ones who think they know everything (when they clearly do not), and the list goes on.

But, what do you do once the season is well underway? These are the people you have so you often end up putting up with them.

But, if you really want to add value to the seasonal hiring effort this year, there is something you can do to get something beneficial out of the process.

You don’t have to put tons of time in or take your other people out of their stores/districts to make this happen. If you have hired seasonal employees who are new to retail, or sales and customer service functions then give them something that they can get through quickly and easily.. something that will help them get ‘in tune’ with what you expect from them and give them some skills to bring to the job.

Give them a little training; something that they can do on their own, and the party animals, the timid, the chatterboxes and the know it alls will, at the very least, understand that you expect more from them and that you’re investing to make sure you get what you expect. We guarantee it.

I’ve seen lots of people, just like Michelle, who turn out to be worth their weight in gold.

This time of year is way too important to leave this to chance. If you can help your new people get up to speed quickly enough to make a difference this season, why wouldn’t you? Consider this very simple example.

Your seasonal employee, Jane, will help clean and organize the stockroom, she’ll change lightbulbs and keep displays tidy, she might even be a really friendly greeter when positioned at your lease line. You may be very happy with Jane.

But if Jane learns some sales & customer service skills she can be more productive by actively selling to customers, in addition to her other duties.

Depending on your average sale, if Jane made just a couple of decent sales, you’d quickly recover any investment you made in training her and it would prove to be very worthwhile. And, she would thank you for taking the time to help her, as well.

In addition to monetary gain through increased sales, you also get more commitment, respect and loyalty.

You can decide to make your seasonal employees a very valuable asset this year.

All the Success!


P.S.: If you’re looking for something to help you realize your investment in your seasonal employees, here it is. Get your copy of the Retail Selling Skills & Customer Service Fundamentals Self Study Course now. The digital version is only $97. In just a couple of hours, your new employees will learn how to contribute so much more to your business.


Win Big This Season


Make a plan to win big this holiday season.

Even though you’re likely to be super busy over the next few weeks, this is no time to abandon your efforts to manage the use of your time. You may have to do a little tweaking, but the basics still need to be in place to help you be as successful as possible.

They say we can’t manage time, we can only manage our own use of it…so here’s a process that will give you some tips on making the best use of your time.

Determine how much time you spend on various activities – Make a list of all of the things you routinely take care of during a normal day/week/month and assign a number of minutes or hours to each one. This exercise will draw your attention to things that are taking up too much of your valuable time.  Awareness of this will assist you in determining which activities can be stopped altogether, delegated or combined with other activities to save time.

Figure out how your personal speed measures up – People who get a lot done are moving fast most of the time. It’s difficult, in fact, to get them to slow down. Try walking through a mall with a high achieving go getter of a District Manager and you’ll probably be out of breath in no time!

If you find that you’re moving a little on the slow side, you just need to put a bit more energy into everything you do. Move a little faster each day. This applies to getting things done as well as some of your decision making.

Define Goals – Goals will include, but are not limited to, top success factors. They need to be well defined so that you can clearly see what kind of time allotment and resources will be needed to reach them.

Prioritize– Any activity or task that will not move you closer to your achievement in your top success factors is not worthy of investment of your time. Keep a log of what you are doing with your time for a couple of weeks and then review it to make sure that all of your time has, in fact, been spent on top success factors.

Work with To Do Lists – Daily or weekly, a ‘to do’ list must be created. It must include only those things that you have deemed to be priorities based on your top success factors. Others may inadvertently influence your ‘to do’ list unless you are very careful. Just remember who owns your ‘to do’ list.

Why is it important to use a to do list?

We can’t necessarily keep everything in our memory and, even if we could, why waste the brain space when you can jot it down on paper? Seeing the list of things written down on paper helps you to prioritize. Any possible duplication of effort can be seen at a glance. And, you get the satisfaction of striking things off the list as they are accomplished.

Appointments – Make a plan for your day, week or month as if you are creating appointments. That is to say, if you plan to do something at 9:30 a.m., and have scheduled that activity as a 45 minute appointment, then do it in the 45 minutes you have scheduled it for. Appointments should have a start and finish time and cannot be left open ended.

Reduce time allotments – Any activity, task, project or meeting can easily expand to use up all of the time allotted to it. For this reason, schedule on the short side. Things tend to be handled more efficiently and effectively when a tighter time frame is in place.

Organize – In retail, you must be highly organized. You need a system for reducing clutter (of your space and your mind) and for easy retrieval of documents and information. If your life is full of clutter, your brain is confused and is probably actually preventing you from getting things done.

Make a point of regularly clearing out junk that you don’t need or use anymore. Stuff at home and work should be thrown out if it is not useful to you. You should actually schedule this ‘clutter removal’ appointment once a month or even as often as once a week.

Delegate – Presumably you have competent people working for you so you should be able to delegate according to their particular strengths and availability. Even if you need to break a larger project down into smaller, more manageable pieces it will help you and it will help in development your people.

You’ll need to consider these things when deciding what to delegate:

-Is it a repetitive task?

-If a bad decision is made regarding this issue – what is the impact? Is it easily reversed? Will it negatively affect others? Will it be expensive, for the company, to correct or reverse?

Say “no” – Admittedly, this is not always possible, so you need to know how to determine what you should and could say “no” to. If someone asks you to take on a project or task that will not necessarily advance your cause – or contribute to your top success factors – then you need to say “no”. If you find there is no alternative but to accept the project or task, then you need to look for items on your to do list that can be moved to another time slot or ‘appointment time’, or delegated.

Remain flexible and reschedule often – You will need to allow for the unexpected. The idea of planning your work and working your plan is a very good one, but sometimes you will just have to be flexible. So, when the need arises, be prepared to reschedule.

Allow yourself some scheduled unproductive time – It doesn’t sound right but it’s important. This is what will keep you going. We can’t have every minute of every day pinned down – sometimes we have to just enjoy ….whatever.

Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do – Sometimes it’s impossible to embark on a big project. Maybe you have limited resources; maybe the expected outcome is still a bit uncertain. For whatever reason, you just know you can’t get the big project done. You can, however, start on small parts of that big project – the parts that you are able to get done and that will be useful when it comes time to get the big project underway. In fact, if you work at it that way you might just find that the big project has suddenly taken care of itself.

Sleep early, wake up early and take good care of your health– The early bird gets the worm! In our case, the early riser gets more done while they are still energetic. It’s a great feeling to know that some people are just lounging around – still in their beds – while you have already accomplished half of your to do list.

As far as your health goes, we don’t profess to know enough about the human body and it’s nutritional requirements to provide advice on that topic. Suffice to say you must take good care of your health if you want to operate at the top of your game and make the best use of all of your waking hours. Eat a healthy diet, get some exercise, schedule your regular medical check-ups and generally… kind to yourself.

All the Success!!



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