At this, the most wonderful time of the year, don't be surprised if you find your customers short of patience, short of temper and short of understanding. Holiday stress is as much a part of the holiday season as Santa and snowflakes and if you're staff is not prepared to spread a little polite good cheer, your bottom line may turn into one big lump of coal.
Stress-Relief–Choices.com describes holiday stress as "the stress you feel when you are preparing for a holiday or the stress you feel while on holiday. As a society nowadays we work really hard as a collective with little time off. This means that when holiday time comes we have to have the holiday or we will explode. And what happens? Usually we explode."
So to help you keep your cool when the holiday madness really sets in, here are 10 gentle reminders for both staff and owners on the do's and don'ts of holiday etiquette.
Do not let anyone enter your store without a warm and friendly greeting. It's hard to be naughty when someone else is being nice.
Get into the spirit of the season, decorate your store, play lots of holiday music. Even if you're sick of it, it puts your customers in a happy frame of mind.
Do not have personal conversations with other employees within earshot of customers. People have their own agenda especially at this time of the year and they are not interested in yours. Besides, in this busy season customers may have been getting ignored all day at other stores, you want them to have full attention at yours.
If there is a mistake, no excuses. Never blame the boss, the part-timer, the vendor, the weather or the economy for anything that goes wrong. Just fix it, show a little holiday good will and give your customers the gift of understanding.
Have everyone looking their best. Santa would never come to your house with milk stains and cookie crumbs on his suit, and your drivers should never go to a door without a clean uniform and with a smile on their face. They are, after all, your public face.
Everyone who takes an order should know your menu inside and out. Customers always have questions and you must be prepared to answer them immediately. Mom or dad may be tired after a long day of shopping and just can't make up their mind. Be patient and give them as much help as they need. This one small thing can go a long way toward increasing add on sales.
Never reply to a special request with, "No" unless it is immediately followed with, "But may I suggest..."
Don't just ask questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no." engage your customers, getting them involved may trigger add on sales, so ask leading questions instead.
Have the catering elves on standby. Holiday parties are such an important part of the celebration and as we all know a party is only as good as the food we serve. When done right, great catering can be the number one stress reliever of the whole holiday season, not to mention that a good catering plan can increase your bottom line by as much as 20 percent. If you don't have a catering program in place, now is the time to start one. If you don't know how, try reading Erle Dardick's book "Get Catering and Grow Sales! A Strategic Perspective for The Multi-Unit Restaurant Executive." Not only is it a good read, but since all proceeds go to charity you will be doing a good deed while you learn how to cater.
Last but not least, don't let the turkeys get you down. If things start going crazy, put a smile on your face and use common sense. Remember, chronic short-staffing, distracted counter people, bossy disrespectful managers, etc. make it nearly impossible to give good service. Treat your staff with respect, i.e. how you would like them to treat others. Bring out the best in them and have a great and profitable holiday season.
Marla Topliff, president of Rosati’s Pizza, has helped grow the Chicago franchise from 60 stores in 1999 to the 170 national brand that it is today. She supervises all aspects of marketing, customer service, store communications and vendor relationships.