With just over a month to go until Valentine’s Day, the heat is officially on… to find great seasonal helpers.
Because the holiday — which takes place this year on a Thursday — generates such a high volume of sales, most veteran managers and owners recommend looking for holiday workers at least a month ahead of the big day, which means you still have time to get started. (But it’s time to get moving!)
Here are a few tips to help you successfully find and (quickly) train those critical helping hands:
Start with People You Know. At Exotic Flowers in Boston, Massachusetts, owner Rick Canale starts his holiday help search by reaching out to experienced former staff members and delivery drivers. Canale said that the popularity of driving services such as Lyft and Uber can present it a challenge: It’s now harder for him to find dependable and available drivers in his busy metro area. He has found success, however, in reaching out to close friends and former employees who enjoy working during the bustling holiday time period.
Create “Cheat Sheets.” Manny Gonzales, former owner of Tiger Lily Florist in Charleston, South Carolina, suggests creating one-page forms for new hires — forms that will “answer 90 percent of all issues for categories like delivery questions, taking orders, and answering the phones.” On Gonzalez’s cheat sheets, he would troubleshoot problems so that new drivers know who to call if they get lost and gives detailed phone and order-taking scripts. Gonzales also advises florists to review the cheat sheets before the holiday and host role-playing exercises to prepare new employees for the rush.
Host a Training Day. Arthur Conforti, PFCI, president of Bloomerang Solutions and former owner of Beneva Flowers in Sarasota, Florida, recommends hosting a training day to get all employees (new and old) up to date. “Go over the basics and keep it simple,” Conforti said. Another suggestion: Have holiday workers come in ahead of time and shadow a current employee or join a training session to go through the “do’s” and “dont’s” of order-taking. He also suggests florists prep temporary workers with the verbiage they should use when they run into a problem they don’t know how to solve, e.g., “Although I am new, I’ll get someone who can help with your concerns” instead of “I don’t know the solution to the problem.”
Be Welcoming. Having new workers on your team during Valentine’s Day is likely a requirement for your success — but it’s also a challenge, particularly for your year-round team, who you depend on to get the seasonal players up to speed. Gonzales suggests creating a team environment by showing appreciation to your employees — and encouraging them to be welcoming to others. (After all, temporary helpers who have a great experience in your store will likely share their story with their own circles.)“Existing staff members have a responsibility to the holiday newbies,” Gonzales said. “I tell them we need the newbies, and hopefully a couple of them will stick around after the holiday. So, we welcome them, appreciate them, help them, and say thank you.”
Mackenzie Nichols is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.