For Retailers: How to Inspire Your Staff in the Busy Season

   Here are a few things for you to consider as you work to create a winning holiday in your retail environment; 

A fun and productive holiday game/contest

     One way to sell more to each customer is to focus on his/her holiday gift list, not the products you sell. This is something I teach in my Holiday Winning Ways online training.   A number of our clients have supplemented this approach with a very productive Winning Holiday List contest. It’s quite simple. The goal is to make a sale that includes gifts for at least two people. One of the two people can be the customer him/herself.  To keep track, the employee must write down on a slip of paper the names of the gift recipients. This shouldn’t be a challenge, since we should always know the name of the customer and the people for whom they are shopping right?  The employee scores a point for each name. For example, if a customer makes a purchase for two other people and himself, the associate scores three points.

     You can run the game/contest on a daily basis or over a series of days. Even if you do multiple days, I like to have daily winners. There are two ways to win. One winner is the person that scores the most points, and the other is the person with the highest single sale score.

     One client is doing it just a bit differently. Each sale with two or more recipients qualifies the associate for an entry into a drawing for a cash prize.  However you do it, focusing on winning more of each customer’s shopping list is a great strategy to win this holiday.

Holiday communications

      Communication is important in any organization, and that’s never truer than in retail during the holidays. Customers and sales are won or lost depending on how knowledgeable and well-informed the frontline staff is.

Daily “Take Five” meetings and the regular staff meeting are usually sufficient for in-store communication, but during the holidays too much changes throughout the day to rely only on meetings. I know many owners/managers will send/post a daily email or memo but again, sometimes things just change too quickly during the day to make that fully effective. That’s why an old school communication tool is still one of the best during the holidays.

     When I was a store manager I placed grease boards in three key locations where each member of the staff would regularly see them as he/she moved through the day. The staff was expected to check each board every time they walked past it.

The first board was for inventory updates. While mostly used for out-of-stocks, it also informed the staff of what had been received or when hot products were coming in.

The second board was for key daily operational communication. Instead of trying to tell everyone about an issue, we updated the board when something came up. Maybe credit cards were taking longer to process than usual, or there was a last-minute change to that day’s break schedule. This was much more efficient than trying to tell everyone something when at any given time, half of them were with customers.

The third board was the daily motivation. It would list the day’s goals, tips to achieve them, any contest, etc. I did this board first thing in the morning and would add to it throughout the day. Separating the operational and the motivational boards was important.

     For company communications, the support team needs to reduce or eliminate non-essential communications as much as possible. This is easier said than done, but it’s important to keep vital information flowing without taking managers away from the floor. I suggest directing the information flow through a single conduit, either an internal person or the district managers.

Tips for the staff

     For ten years now I’ve been sharing 25 tips for retail associates to have a more productive and stress-free holiday. Here are three of my favorites.

1. Ask to take five minutes off the floor when you get that crazy and overwhelmed feeling. Even better, suggest a five minute breather to a co-worker who clearly needs it.

2. Don’t stop the sale. It’s bad for business and unfair to your customer. Never say, “Will there be anything else?” Wait until your customer says he/she is done. Until then, keep working your customer’s list – and help them find gifts for themselves, too.

3. Don’t skip the things that keep you centered. Whether it’s church, the gym, Starbucks, or sappy holiday movies, don’t be too tired to do what you like to do. Personally, my annual viewing of “Elf” is important to my holiday performance.

You can read all 25 tips here

Doug Fleener has been regular author at The Point of Sale News ™ since 2009.   As a true veteran of the retail industry, Doug’s advice has helped thousands of retailers be more effective and more profitable.   We encourage you to visit his website to see some of the programs that he offers – they are affordable for even the smallest of retail operations.

Doug is offering a holiday training program – read on for details.

A proven way to create a winning holiday

    There is still plenty of time to train your team to be even more productive this holiday. My Holiday Winning Ways online training can be done in under an hour. Don’t just take my word for how it can help your business. Here’s what a few of the leaders who’ve put their staff through the training told me after Black Friday weekend.

“We had an AMAZING weekend! Our team is rocking the training!!! Who not what is everyone’s phrase!!! The add-ons have been great, too. This is a very strong team right now and I feel it will be even stronger at the end of the year!”


“We were up 10% in our Black Friday sakes. For the week we were up 30% in sales. November was a good month for us. Go December.”


“My team at both stores has finished the classes. Winning Ways was really a good brush up for us, and really helped us with selling. My (store name) manager said it was really making a difference, and I think it is!”



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About the Author

Editorial Team is a leading industry news site for the point of sale and payments industry. We are also the go-to resource for small business owners that want expert tips and inspiration on how to run a successful business. Collectively, our team of experts has decades of POS, payments, and small business experience.