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  • Holiday Help: Hiring and Training, Part 1

    Floral Finance

    It's an ongoing cycle. Three or four times a year, you have to gear up to handle holiday volume. Valentine's Day has a unique set of challenges because it is the single busiest day of the year. Mother's Day, in second place, is not far behind.

    Christmas is a little different. The volume for that holiday is spread over a longer time frame. You don't have truly wild days, but you do have a longer span of consistent "busyness."

    Finding Good Help

    Increased holiday demands increase the need for part-time workers. You'll be able to get the work done without permanently inflating the shop's payroll.

    However, every community is different. In particular, each has its own labor characteristics.

    The college town might have plenty of part-time help available when school is in session.

    Labor availability in the metropolitan area is largely a function of the unemployment rate. When the rate dips below 4 percent, it's hard to find qualified help.

    And in smaller towns, the labor shortage is always an issue.

    In each situation, the search for part-time help begins with the usual groups:

    • Mothers with extra time during school hours;
    • Students;
    • Design school students;
    • Fire fighters, police officers and delivery professionals looking to fill their off-hours;
    • Senior citizens.

    All are good sources. However, if you've exhausted these sources and still are short on personnel, what do you do? There are a couple of other avenues to search.

    Your Customer Base

    Don't ignore your customer list. It's a great source of potential part-time employees.

    Since a flower shop is such a personal business, you likely have relationships with many of those people. Some will be excited about the chance to help out in their favorite shop.

    They may not be actively looking for a job or need to earn any income, but they would love a short-term work opportunity.

    Volunteer Organizations

    Charities and other organizations are always looking for creative ways to earn money. Many will have volunteers willing to work. Their "paychecks" can go straight to the worthy cause.

    You may not have to look further than the local high school. Booster clubs — bands, drama, football, basketball, soccer, FFA — the list is endless.

    Don't forget church groups trying to raise money for short-term mission trips or youth activities. And charitable organizations — from the United Way to the local homeless center. All are possible sources.

    A benefit of working with these volunteer groups is that they will often come back again and again. It brings some certainty and consistency into your labor situation. And training will be less of an issue.

    A "Potential" Folder

    Pay attention whenever anyone inquires about working in your shop — even if you aren't hiring at the time. At minimum, have each candidate complete a short application.

    Keep every one of these applications. They will be a valuable source of both permanent and holiday help when you do have needs.

    These individuals are prescreened in that they have already indicated an interest in working for you.

    Help-Wanted Sign

    Often the simplest, most obvious idea is the best.

    If you talk to other business owners in your community, you might be surprised to find that a help-wanted sign in the window or on a reader board can be a very effective recruitment technique.

    People who apply because they have seen the sign usually live, work or shop in the area. You can also assume that they don't have a transportation problem. And they're obviously interested in the flowers business.


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