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New York--The holiday season isn’t far off, which means it’s almost time for the most important sales period of the year for many retailers.

But big shopping and big spending can also mean long hours, potential burnout and distractions for store employees.

To help, Kate Peterson, president and CEO of Performance Concepts; Jeff Corey, owner of Day’s Jewelers; and Brian Madson, adviser with The Edge Retail Academy, shared some tips with National Jeweler to help store owners and managers keep their staff motivated and focused during the holiday hours.

holiday tips 180x150Here’s what they had to say.

1. Incentivize. Though it might not be the primary motivator for all sales staff, money is an important incentive to maximize individual sales, Corey said. Day’s has an incentive program that offers a monetary reward to sales associates who achieve monthly sales goals, as well as an enhanced incentive offered to the team members who exceed their sales goal by 10 percent.

Madson also encouraged sales contests throughout the month to reward employees for selling special inventory items, with rewards like movie tickets and gift cards.

2. Better with age. Corey said they also offer additional monetary incentives to associates who sell aged merchandise to help move product.

3. Dole out praise. “Recognition for a job well done can be an exceptionally powerful motivator,” Corey said.

At Day’s, they continuously recognize employees who have made an important sale via the company intranet, private Facebook page and the printed newsletter mailed to each employee’s home monthly. These posting include a photo of the employee along with an image of the item he or she sold.

4. Include the team. Day’s makes it a part of the company culture to involve sales staff in all decisions affecting them, including product selection, display, sales strategy and more.

“Being part of the planning process, knowing that their thoughts and opinions are valued, inspires them to be the best they can be,” Corey said.

5. Train, train, train. It’s important for the store to provide the necessary practice and education for its team. Day’s is “aggressively” offering a number of training opportunities for sales staff in an effort to give them the tools they need to be the best at their jobs.

6. Get ahead on the schedule. Have a marketing plan in place for events and outreach well ahead of time, with key dates on the calendars, so everyone is on the same page. Create to-do lists for events and assign items to team members so roles are clear, and schedule social media posts ahead of time.

7. Have a concrete list. Print out a list of the wish list inventory and contact customers to create holiday sales opportunities, Madson said. Clean up the wish lists as you go, removing dated items and/or adding new items.

8. Plan the work calendar ahead of time. This will allow for plenty of time to assess payroll demands, according to Madson. Increase the staff level to accommodate busy times and lunches and breaks. Make sure your top salespeople are always available to sell first. Also, Madson suggested, order lunch on your busiest days for your team as a morale booster.

9. Review. Throughout the holiday season, actively review strategies on how to sell to different customer types, product knowledge so the team is well versed on the features and benefits, and turnover strategies, with role playing included at team meetings to make the most of every opportunity.  

10. Think outside the “carrot-and-stick” box. Peterson said that experience has taught her that retail business owners have the greatest success when they work to inspire their employees as a means of keeping them at the top of their games.

Do this by aligning employee values and interests with your own: Make the effort to understand each employee’s personal goals and objectives and learn what they need in terms of tools, training, coaching and mentoring to achieve them. Deliver for them by being present and leading by example every day.

11. Be consistent. Peterson added that keeping employees focused on both company goals and their own also requires some consistency. Keep priorities front-of-mind and avoid flipping randomly from one idea to the next to allow people the chance to follow through.

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