I hope you enjoyed the summer. Have you realized there are only 90 shopping days until Christmas? Crazy, right!? It seems we start thinking about the holidays earlier and earlier each year. Even if, like me, you haven’t started thinking about your holiday shopping yet, you should be thinking about your seasonal loss prevention strategy.
As your company’s holiday marketing campaigns focus on attracting consumers early on, now is the time to prepare to protect your profits through the holiday season. As an increase in merchandise and customers begin to flow in and out of your doors, your employees need to be ready to handle the challenges of increased inventory, traffic flow, sales, monies, etc.
Staffing up for the holiday season is a reality for most businesses. Even though early reports by some retailers state they will not staff as many temporary seasonal workers as in prior years, most will hire temporary help for the holiday season. As the days become longer and the crowds increase your seasonal employees will be part of your team; working with customers, handling cash and merchandise and have the responsibility to protect both your brand and your profits.
As with any employee, the potential exists for seasonal employees to deny you of profits by choosing to engage in theft. The concern with seasonal employees is of course the short period of time they are employed, giving loss prevention and operations a shorter window to discover and address any internal theft issues.
A successful seasonal employee program begins with good hiring practices, execution of a solid training program and consistency in handling any issue or concern. Clearly developing and executing these practices along with defining the role store management teams (regional, district and store managers) play will help maintain a solid loss prevention program with seasonal employees.
Following are some recommendations for a successful seasonal employee program:
References are a must: Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season allow checking references to slide. Reference checks should be done on every potential employee. Remember, you want temporary employees to be reliable, on time and perform at a high level.
The past can help you: Call upon last year’s seasonal hires who performed well and contributed to a successful holiday season.
Prepare the employee: Put seasonal workers through a basic training orientation. Depending on the position, training may include how to run the registers, stock shelves, serve customers, and more.
Obtain acknowledgment of written policies: Make certain to have all employees read, review and sign off on training sessions and written policies and procedures. Solicit acknowledgement that they understand all policies, including those dealing with theft, employee discounts and other areas that, if not followed, will create loss to your company.
Treat them as permanent staff: Although seasonal helpers may only work for you for a short period time, their performance is no less important to your company’s success than the performance of permanent staff.
Don’t tolerate poor performance: Take control in your business by clearly defining performance expectations and the consequences of failing to meet those expectations. Administer the consequences if failure occurs.
Focus on Awareness: Continue to focus on training and awareness throughout the entire holiday season. In addition to sales strategies, loss prevention should be discussed at every morning huddle, shift change and whenever the moment calls for coaching and training.
By ensuring a consistent approach to seasonal hiring, training, managing and evaluating you will reduce the potential for loss and help protect your bottom line.
Don’t be like the last minute shopper who pays the price for waiting until the last minute to shop. Putting your plan into action now will ensure a successful holiday season.
Written By: Bill Angiolillo, CFI- Director of Client Services
Here are some additional best practices for the Holiday Season;
Have Seasonal or Temporary Locations? Download our 8 Steps to Successful Seasonal Stores eBook
Plan for the Holidays with our 2011 Holiday Loss Prevention Preparation Kit