Preparing your retail workers for Black Friday

How to stay limber, positive, and not die during this Holiday Season!

Ahh, Black Friday. Those words bring back memories of sleep deprivation, luke-warm, stale coffee, and the sound of an out-of-date register’s drawer opening after inputting a series of buttons so fast that I start to impress myself. If you have never earned your Medal of Honor for serving at least one tour of duty as a retail employee on Black Friday, then I ask you now to bow your head and pay respects to the men and women who have to serve every year like clockwork.

Now, as an employer of a retail establishment during this time of the year, you have to think differently but still have the same mindset when preparing your staff for such a crucial sales-driven time. Chances are you have been in your employee’s shoes one way or another. Making sure they are in the best position to be successful is not only important but your duty as the employer.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

So true, isn’t it? That is why planning ahead and going over possible scenarios is key to running an efficient retail store during the holiday season.

Working in retail both as an employee and employer has allowed me to see what needs to be done on both sides of the aisle. From preparing the store for an onslaught of customers to making sure shifts are covered and covered by the appropriate persons are strategically important decisions to have made in advanced.

Physical Store Preparation

Depending on your product shipment frequency, you would want to plan this at least one to two shipments behind just in case it takes longer to receive your bigger “Black Friday” shipment. This is key if you do not want to run out of product on Thanksgiving day. What I used to do to prepare for an influx of customers was compare my last year sales numbers to the previous year’s sales numbers and compare what was the most sold item, what sold out the quickest, and try to estimate what will be the new hot ticket item for this Holiday Season.

Physical store preparation can typically be the easiest to prepare for as long as you do your homework and give yourself and your distributor enough time to follow through.

Staff Preparation

Preparing your physical store and inventory is one thing, preparing your staff is another. I would begin this training/preparation process around Halloween in order to give you and your staff enough time to prepare. One of the key preparations you can do is create the staff schedule at least a month in advance for the Holiday Season. If you are preparing a schedule for Thanksgiving and Black Friday, make sure to have it done by Halloween at the latest. This will give your employees more than enough time to schedule ahead thus reducing the chances of having someone call-in or, even worse, get caught with a no-call-no-show scenario.

With scheduling set, its time to train your staff to prepare for doorbuster-like customers who will soon flood your store. There are a couple of areas to keep in mind when training for the Holiday Season:

  • Watching for thievery

Depending on the policies of your location in regards to customers stealing, I would direct you to where they explain the ins and outs of various policies and procedures to keep in mind when dealing with retail theft.

  • Staying fit/limber

This is a very overlooked part of staff preparation. If you were ever in retail, you will know we must be able to stand for long periods of time while giving the best customer service possible. Thus, it is a great idea to start each shift with a walk of the sales floor, a simple stretch, and to make sure water/rehydrating fluids, are readily available for your staff during their shift.

  • keeping the store neat, clean and welcoming

It’s one thing to service every customer who jams their way through your doors this holiday season and it’s another to make sure the store doesn’t look like a war zone after every time they leave. Each shift should start by straightening the sales floor and make it look cosmetically pleasing as possible then, at the end of their shift, they should overlap the oncoming shift by 10-15mins so they can give the store a quick cleanse (disinfecting the POS area, sweep the sales floor, and check inventory) while the oncoming shift immediately helps customers so there is no delay in service.

Good luck, God speed, and Happy selling!

I hope these tips were useful in getting your mind right for this 2019 Holiday Season. As we have seen in the past, Black Friday no longer starts after Thanksgiving. It now runs through Thanksgiving, after and even before at many locations in order to have deals run for 72 hours straight.

Remember, working in retail can be hell so it’s up to the employer to put your business and staff in the best position to be successful. A well-prepared staff is a happy staff and a happy staff is a staff that will go the extra mile for your business. Don’t strive for perfection, strive to have fun and serve your community the best way you know-how.