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  • Scheduling Your Staff, Part 2

    Create a scheduling plan that will be both profitable for the business and agreeable to the employees.

    Flexibility

    Time is often considered more valuable than money. People will opt for the hours they want to work rather than a higher paying position with less desirable hours. That bias works in the favor of retail florists. You may not pay the highest wages, but with proper planning you can offer flexible hours.

    You will need some full-time people who can work from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. Depending upon your shop's business hours, you might also be able to use some full-timers who work from 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

    However, part-timers are the key. Individuals who can work for two to three hours around lunchtime are perfect candidates. So are students who will work after school.

    Stay-at-home mothers with school-age children may be another good option.

    Worker-Friendly Schedules

    Grouping blocks of time together is another way to make your shop more worker-friendly.

    Suppose, for example, you have a mother who only wants to work 2 days a week. Depending upon your shop's size and flexibility, you can offer some attractive schedules.

    For example, you could schedule Thursday/Friday of the first week and Monday/Tuesday of the second week. Repeat that pattern every two weeks, and every other week she will have eight days off in a row — Wednesday to Wednesday.

    Of course, many employees will want the same days off each week. That's easy for planning purposes.

    The larger the shop you are, the more flexibility you will be able to offer. It will be easier to move schedules around to accommodate individual needs.

    Weekends

    Most retail florists are open on Saturday. Many are also open on Sunday. If you are open six or seven days, you will have to require employees to put in their share of weekend work.

    The weekend work will be more palatable if you alternate schedules so that every employee will also have three-day weekends on a rotating basis. With that kind of scheduling, they will see that you care about their personal welfare, too.

    Deliveries

    Follow the same principles when you schedule drivers.

    For proper scheduling, you need to know what your delivery patterns are by day of the week. You can quantify your needs with a non-holiday delivery analysis. This is the same as you did for the design room, except you track the number of deliveries each day instead of design volume.

    In most cities, reasonably productive drivers can make between 25 and 30 individual stops in an eight-hour day. Multiple deliveries to hospitals or funeral homes will increase the productivity.

    On days when you deliver only 10 arrangements, you only need a part-time driver. You can't afford to pay drivers who aren't really busy.

    Holiday Staffing

    Holidays bring additional volume and require additional personnel. Planning will help you get through the pressure without wasting payroll dollars.

    In the design area, you might want to have an off-site design/delivery center to handle the peak volume.

    Prepare containers ahead of time, and use production-designing techniques. Much work can be done during off-hours when the design room isn't as busy.

    In the delivery area, consider hiring drivers who are paid by the piece and use their own vehicles. Depending upon local and state laws and the way you organize the work, you might be able to classify such personnel as contract labor. That would reduce your payroll taxes.

    Be careful. It's better to withhold and pay a few extra payroll tax dollars than to be on the wrong side of the labor laws.

    In order to increase efficiency, create a larger number of smaller delivery areas. Instead of having all the drivers cover all of your zip codes, assign each to a specific area. The average distance traveled for each delivery will be much less. As a result, individual deliveries should take less time.

    Flexible Jobs

    Hire versatile workers — those who can work in the design room during slower sales periods and on the sales floor when customers are calling.

    There is no reason sales personnel can't help with delivery needs during the slow afternoon periods.

    Charting

    It can be hard to keep all the data straight. A staffing chart can really help the planning process.

    Use columnar paper (from an accounting pad) or an Excel spreadsheet. Label each column for an hour of the day. For each work area, use horizontal bars to indicate how many people will be required each hour.

    The design room might have one bar that goes across the entire day — representing a full-time employee. It might have another line that starts midmorning and goes to mid-afternoon. Sales will have some long lines, as well as some short lines to cover the busy periods.

    Prepare a separate chart for each day of the week.

    Next, match individual employees to the bars. When you're finished, you'll have a visual reminder of who is working. You can post the charts (or copies of them) as reference for your employees.

    Not for the Faint of Heart

    A retail flower shop is undoubtedly among the most challenging of retail businesses. There are several functions you perform when you manage a retail flower shop:

    • You have to manage the normal retail sales function.
    • You have to design, which is a manufacturing function.
    • You also have to provide a delivery service, which adds yet another management function.

    All contribute to what many would consider a staffing nightmare. It must be done, and it can be done efficiently. Do your homework. Take the necessary time. Your nerves — and the shop's bottom line — will be the beneficiary.

     

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