With the busiest season upon us, retailers across the country are faced with the same dilemma. How do you properly staff for the upcoming Holiday Season? The majority of
pet moms and dads will buy gifts and special treats for their beloved fur babies. Over half of them will also purchase gifts for relatives and friend’s fur family.
In addition, Pet Store owners deal with the onslaught of families looking to bring home that purrfect new edition to their family! Tally up the increase in phone and online inquiries, as well as foot traffic and puppy viewing appointments, and it becomes clear the previous schedule may not be enough to handle the uptick in customer service needs.
So how do you stay ahead of the staffing curve and turn this holiday boom into a boon?
- Start early. Begin posting hiring signs and ads three months before the (historically) busiest weeks of your year. You’ll need time to interview, onboard, train and be comfortable that the employees are knowledge enough to put in front of your customers.
- Have a plan. What are the areas that typically get the busiest for your team? Foot traffic in the store? Online requests? Phone calls? Put a plan in place to hire for (or outsource) the areas that see the most increased needs.
- Train the incoming staff the same as you do for the year-round team. In general, stores will end up keeping 10-15% of seasonal staff onboard full time after the holiday season. Not only will this reduce the amount of “retraining,” but it will also significantly impact your customer’s experience during the holiday season. Having a bad experience with a team member who is not knowledgeable may generate a negative review online or impact the opportunity for repeat business…and there’s a lot of repeat business to be had!
- Offer post-season opportunity. Give your top sales people or most reliable team members the opportunity to stay on post New Year drop offs. If you’re already properly staffed, create some drive by offering choice of shifts to those valued employees.
- Be clear, flexible and realistic. Provide transparency on the expectation of the staffing hours during the time of hire. Let the applicant decide if the hours and expectations are in alignment with what they can commit to. Onboarding and training costs time and money – you want to make sure both are well spent and not thrown away just to bring in a “body.” Also, be cognizant of the balance of work your employees are expecting over the holiday season. Do they want to work every day from 4pm-9pm AND weekends? Over scheduling your team members may result in call-offs or premature resignations (especially if the employee feels that the 6-10 weeks of holiday work is not worth the time commitment). This can leave you without a properly staffed store in the busiest weeks of the year! Consider over hiring initially to ensure you are properly staffed towards the holiday rush.
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