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Getting staff through peaks


We're in the final countdown to Christmas and although you've undoubtedly held team meetings and sorted out the roster there are still things you need to be doing to make sure you and your staff get through the peak happily and profitably. Drawing on her 20 years of being a florist and running her own shop, Tracy Rowbottom of Country Baskets gives you some final pointers.

Have targets on show

If it's not already up I always found it useful to have a big sign up in the workroom (you don't want your customers seeing this!) showing what your sales targets are for the month and how that compares to last year ... and yes you should be predicting an increase given the economy is so much better.

It can either be a target based on hard cash taken, the volume of orders done or stock turned over ... or perhaps all three. But whichever you choose it really works because everyone loves a challenge!

What's more you give your team a real feeling of accomplishment on those long days when last year's achievements are matched or beaten, and often spurs everyone on when they are flagging.

But don't worry if there are blips – having a record on show helps as much on the bad days as the good. I remember only too well that being in a shop in the run up to Christmas is very nerve racking so it's comforting to know that it was exactly the same on this day last year and not because you have got something wrong!

Get everyone involved

Encourage your team to take ownership of planning and prepping for next year. OK not what you probably want to think about when you're covered in glitter but notes made this year will help make December 2016 even better and can also have a benefit for the next big days of St Valentine's and Mother's Day.

An Ideas Board (whiteboard or black) or a stash of Post-it notes allows them to instantly jot down thoughts, ideas and observations based on what they are doing in real time; be it a different way of getting orders out for delivery or noting when there were lulls and how they could have been filled. Not only does it involve your team in the business but it avoids really good ideas being lost in the rush of holly wreaths and hand ties.

Pick the right people

Identifying staff strengths and weaknesses and give everyone a clear brief on their role in the mayhem and gently encourage them to stick to it when everything goes mad, especially in the last 7 days.

Use this week to check all the systems are working and watch how the team are working together. For instance if you have a particular member of staff who is brilliant with customers, explain how crucial that is and let them lead that area, if someone is really quick at hand ties that's their niche.

If you make it clear why they have been chosen to do that particular task, how important it is and you DO THE SAME with everyone it avoids resentments or picking and choosing the best jobs and they each have ownership of something.

Look after them

When the busy period really hits refreshments and encouragement are key. Lots of nibbles and treats (it is Christmas after all!) are a must. Coffee machine on the go all the time and even the odd glass of wine at the end of long day.

Make sure though, however busy it is, you plan a breaks rota and you insist on staff taking breaks. That may sound mad but when it's really busy everyone needs to step away and get some head space particularly in a creative industry. Having done it myself I know your team will perk up and feel appreciated if you look after them so actually it's a benefit to all.

Don't forget to post lots of pics of your team on social media and let the whole world know how great they are! Not just another way of publicly praising your team but it shows a really personal side of your business which is incredibly important and what more and more consumers want to see, especially if they are ordering from outside your area so show off your personality and dedication.

And finally when the door is shut and you're all working after hours slippers are definitely compulsory and loud music can help a lot too.