Tips on getting your employees through the holiday rush

Dec. 6, 2011 | by Valerie Killifer
Tips on getting your employees through the holiday rush

While the height of holiday shopping may have passed with Black Friday, there will still be plenty of last-minute shoppers looking for last-minute deals, and each facing last-minute hunger.

While your staff has no doubt been prepared for the holiday rush, here are a few reminders of what employees should consider when dealing with hungry customers during the last few days of fa-la-la frenzy.

Bob Phibbs, otherwise known as the Retail Doctor, had these five tips to share when it comes to getting employees through the holiday season.

Remind your employees the customers come first.Many employees fail to realize that it's up to them to make the customers' holiday happy, not the other way around. If a restaurant guest is having a bad day, looks harried or otherwise stressed, a kind word, friendly smile or other gesture of kindness will go a long way. "Nobody kicks an employee they like," Phibbs said.

Empower managers to set a positive intention.When a restaurant manager shows up for their shift they are in charge of setting the mood and tone for the rest of the crew. "It's really management's job to set the intention and it's up to the crew to help people have a happy holiday," Phibbs said. If a manager arrives at work thinking it's going to be a terrible day or shift, nine times out of 10, that's exactly what will happen. By keeping a positive attitude and a high-level spirit even during the busiest of times, the crew will follow suit.

Bring the interaction back to the experience.Tablet ordering and kiosks have taken the guest experience to another level, but many new technologies also have removed some level of employee/guest interaction. Phibbs said employees should look for any and every way to communicate and acknowledge guests. "The moment they come into my restaurant is the moment they have a chance to have a better holiday," he said.

Let people process negative encounters.While it's unlikely employees will have a negative encounter with guests, if they do, let them take five minutes to themselves after the encounter occurs. Phibbs said employees need time to process and shake off the rattling interaction so they can leave the situation behind them. Managers tend to leave employees on the line instead of letting them process the encounter. "If we don't let them process what has just happened, they take it out on the rest of the crew or the next person in line," he said.

Recognize a job well done.Employee recognition awards during the holiday season is one way managers can keep the crew in a positive frame of mind. Gift cards and other recognition rewards can go a long way, Phibbs said. It also helps to keep employees in the holiday spirit.

During the holiday season, and even throughout the year, your employees have the power and ability to shape the experience of your guest. And how your employees treat them during the holidays is an indicator of what those guests can expect throughout the year.

In addition to these five points, Phibbs has created his list of the top 50 things employees should never do during the holiday season or otherwise.Click here to read the full list.

1. Do not let anyone enter the shop without a warm greeting. If you can’t or won’t do that, go work at Macy’s.

2. Never say it’s “slow,” “dead,” or voice any negative thought, we get enough of that from cable.

3. Leave your problems at the door – no one wants to work with high drama whether that’s your daughter’s lost keys or your boyfriend’s mom had a facial appointment.

4. Don’t come to work sick – ever.

5. Don’t complain about Christmas music, it’s playing for the customers, not you.

6. Don’t arrive late saying there was “traffic.” Of course there was traffic, it’s the holidays. Plan accordingly.

7. Don’t change into work clothes that you’ve had scrunched into your backpack all day – leave the wrinkled homeless look for the streets.

Read more about staffing/training.


Topics: Customer Service / Experience, Operations Management, Staffing & Training

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