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  • Make a List… Check It Twice!

    Flowers and Profits®

    Everybody jokes about the need to "recover" from the Christmas season. And it's true; the holidays tax your systems to the maximum. You can't control events, weather or how other people treat you. But, you can control what you bring to the experience. Here are some countdown strategies as you approach the final stretch of the holiday season.

    Even though most of your holiday season decisions have been made, you still have time to make a list and check it twice. Are you really ready for the final stretch? Have you prepared your team to ensure they have the best possible chance for success? In the midst of a stressful time, you can help your shop stay focused on providing exceptional service with the following checklist.

    1. Keep all experienced salespeople on the sales floor as much as possible.

    The season presents a prime opportunity to upsell your merchandise. What will you do to ensure that your most knowledgeable and experienced employees are available to help your customers?

    • Ask everyone to make a list of tasks that can be put off until slower times.
    • Include assigned sales floor time for experienced sales staff on the posted schedules.
    • Schedule key people to run the registers. You want qualified people who can process sales quickly and efficiently.

    2. Schedule employee hours according to last year's patterns.

    Get out the daily and hourly information for each sales day last year. What will you do to make wise projections? Try these ideas:

    • Correlate this year's days with the same day of the week from last year. Note anything out of the ordinary last year such as a special promotion or unusual weather.
    • Compare and project weekly sales figures using your average sales this year from September through mid-November. Create monthly totals as well.
      Working one week at a time, analyze which hourly periods produce the heaviest sales. Determine which of your normal shifts need extra staff on the sales floor based on sales projections.

    3. Stress the importance of being prepared for work as scheduled.

    The increase in customer demands will stretch your staff to their limits. What will you do to minimize scheduling changes or last-minute problems? Try these ideas:

    • Have all employees submit — in writing — any special scheduling requests they might have through December 31.
    • Post all schedules through the end of December. If anyone has a problem with the schedule, have them notify you immediately.
    • Prepare and distribute a reminder of your expectations for punctuality, notification of emergencies, et cetera.

    4. Review your promotions.

    During the Christmas season, you probably spend more money on media and direct mail promotions than any other time of the year. What will you do to ensure your plans proceed properly? Try these ideas:

    • Write down every promotion you have planned.
    • Make a checklist of each item promoted, the inventory and sales tips for your frontline employees.
    • Check in frequently with your vendors to make sure they can still meet your deadlines for these products. This time of the year is busy for everyone so you will need to follow up on orders to make sure nothing goes wrong.

    5. Merchandise your products constantly throughout the season.

    Customers have many options for gift buying beyond your shop. In fact, you may be one of the last shops for many of your customers who have run out of other ideas. What will you do to keep your shop looking appealing and fresh even at the end of this busy time?

    • Plan several small display changes during the final weeks before Christmas to ensure merchandise is always seen from a fresh perspective.
    • Create theme displays that emphasize gifts for special people such as mom, dad, grandparents or teachers.

    6. Exceed your staff's expectations for special holiday treatment.

    Provide special, unexpected perks for working at your shop this year. Try these ideas:

    • Provide food for lunch and dinner breaks on the two Saturdays prior to Christmas. Ask your employees for ideas on what they want to eat.
    • Surprise your employees with a small personal gift the week before Christmas.
    • Find out each employee's least favorite task and do it for one day.
    • Purchase gift certificates for movies or restaurants. When an employee exhibits exceptional customer service, hand him or her a certificate on the spot.

    7. Promise to remain cheerful — then do it!

    The tone you set in your attitude will affect your employees and your customers. What can you do to maintain a positive outlook? Try these ideas:

    • Make a list every morning of five things for which you are thankful. Put the list in your pocket and pull it out when you get frustrated during the day.
    • Read a cartoon each day from a humorous holiday book.
    • Make a list of the bills you will be able to pay after the holiday's projected sales.
    • Smile.

    8. Plan now for the after Christmas period.

    Special sales and events after Christmas can be very profitable for your shop. What will you do to capitalize on customers' eagerness to find a bargain?

    • List the items that will be on clearance.
    • Schedule when sale priced merchandise will be marked down.
    • Complete all details for post-holiday advertising.
    • Canvas the design area and stock room for things that might sell or can be made quickly and easily.


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