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.