Seasonal sales pressure: Prepping staff for peak-time success

Regional high-sales periods can be very tricky to negotiate: so read on for advice on how to minimise the impact of short-term staffing pressures.

Despite the occasional scuffle breaking out between shoppers, last year’s Black Friday generated a 10 per cent increase in footfall compared to the same day in previous years.

With this year’s sales expected to reach new heights, the need to keep all brand ambassadors motivated and engaged to maximise in-store opportunities, as well as managing difficult customers, should be top of the HR agenda.

In a competitive retail landscape, which is heightened during peak, a retailer will only get one chance with the consumer.  With nearly three quarters (74.2%) of shoppers benefiting from the touch, feel and physical comparison of products when making purchase decisions, the in-store experience remains vital for shoppers.

This means that the training and knowledge imparted upon on-floor staff, regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time, is fundamental in making a positive impression on customers, and inevitably impacting the company’s bottom line.

Don’t rush the training process

During the initial recruitment stage, businesses tend to deliver quick training for temporary roles, ticking off the essential points. The problem with this approach is that once staff start the role, they’re left on their own to perform.

With over half (56.8%) of shoppers, for example, complaining that staff are too pushy about making a sale, perhaps training programmes need a revamp. If employers provide staff with a comprehensive understanding of the business and its full product range, along with on-going staff-support such as development training and coaching, these complaints can be minimised.

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Although, due to the transient nature of staff, part-time hours and short-term contracts, finding the time to commit to ongoing training programmes can be a struggle. During peak season, businesses need to find a way to ensure that all front line staff are supported in their knowledge and skills as though they are all full-time staff.

It’s all about flexibility

One of the biggest errors a business can make is creating a one-size fits all approach to training. Businesses need to consider their employees’ needs and find a training solution that suits multiple learning styles.

For this reason, all training should be part of a blended solution, from e-learning online and classroom activity, to on-the-job training and coaching. With students frequently taking on temporary staff positions, moving in-between home and university, e-learning and computer based solutions are particularly useful, granting employees access to courses at a time and location that suits them best.

Keeping staff safe in-store

Ahead of Black Friday, the health and safety of employees raises another concern. Employers should be briefing their on-floor team ahead of this busy period to ensure they are well-prepped for any potential dramas that could unfold; from the odd difficult customer to a full on shopping riot.

Working in a tense and chaotic environment can take its toll on staff, so it is important that store managers ensure employees are not being overworked.

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By frequently checking in with staff and encouraging them to properly utilise breaks, managers will ensure staff feel supported during hectic periods.

Getting the most out of your team

To keep spirits running high, creating friendly competition between staff teams using league boards and prizes can be a fun way to build a positive and motivated team environment; surprisingly more so than monetary incentives.

Moreover, using social media or group-chat tools, like Facebook or Google hangouts, is another way to encourage positive team interaction, allowing staff to support each other with best practice ideas and praise during hectic periods.

Ultimately, if brands aim to deliver high quality customer service all year round they must ensure that all employees feel part of the team, whether they are full-time or part-time.

Putting effort into training and making staff feel part of the larger team can be a motivating factor in itself, leading to maximised sales opportunities and happy customers. As the face of a brand, your staff must know more than just the product basics.

Further reading: Choosing a name and avoiding the blame

Praseeda Nair

Kellen Rempel

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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