Enlarge your Staff, Hiring for the Holiday Season

Adriana Rosales
Getting ready for the holiday season involves a lot of planning, especially this year. Sales numbers are rough nationwide, but let’s not crawl in a corner and give up before the holiday season has even started. In a retail environment, your staff’s sales success impacts more than just sales; it impacts the effectiveness of the company’s overall marketing effort. Your staff members are your brand ambassadors and can have a tremendous impact on your customers’ view of your brand. A well-trained staff will provide customers with a great service experience on a consistent basis that makes the customer experience more memorable. When your staff is on its best performance it’s not just selling, it’s marketing. As you consider staffing for the holidays, remember that important fact. Poor staffing decisions may result in a loss of sales opportunities that are preventable.

Effective Scheduling and Recruiting
Begin the season by evaluating work schedules, reviewing sales transactions, analyzing conversation rates and studying people counter data to determine traffic patterns and buying trends. Once you identify high and low traffic and sales trends, design the work schedules to ensure staff is present when most needed. It’s important to staff your top performing employees during the busiest times where they can have the most face time with customers where they can affect conversion rates and sales.

If you need to recruit staff, spend the extra money on experienced talent. Don’t waste your time on employees without retail experience. You will end up paying more in the end for bad staffing decisions. There is a lot of talent out there. Be selective about the level of work experience you are adding to your team.

When looking at prior employment experience, look for retail jobs within organizations that require up-selling and product explanation to customers. For example, an employee that has worked retail for a large scale discount retailer may not be as great of a sales person as a sales associate for a boutique-like retailer where associates are required to interact with customers consistently. You need your team to be in the best shape possible to ensure that every customer is satisfied.

Coaching From the Basics and Up
Store leaders should coach and provide feedback zealously during the holiday season. This will ensure that no one forgets what the objective is during the season — sales! Store leaders must go over every aspect of the customer experience from the initial greeting, personal appearance, product knowledge, merchandising, and most importantly, closing the sale. Every aspect of the transaction should be consistently executed.

If you are not a sales driven organization, the holidays are a good time to start. Take a look at last year’s holiday sales, the last few months of sales, and develop holiday focused sales goals. These may be daily, weekly and monthly and can help challenge your staff. Having sales goals tracked consistently will help your staff feel more empowered, and feel like they are contributing to the success of the company. They will correlate their performance with the performance of the store and the company as a whole.

Evaluate Your Success
Once the season is over, evaluate your successes and failures. Ask for suggestions and determine what you can do differently next year. This year is tough, but the challenge can be overcome. You and your sales staff can take on the challenge with a proactive approach by identifying and utilizing your revenue generating resources. Happy selling!

Adriana Rosales is the human resources director for Castle Megastore Group Inc. She has a degree in human resources management from California Polytechnic University, Pomona, is a national member of the Society of Human Resources Management, Staffing Management Association and sits on the local Retail Professional Advisory Council.


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