It’s the busiest retail season of the year and while holiday shopping might look different in 2020 because of COVID-19, small businesses can stay safe—and be highly successful—with just a few key adjustments to their staffing and operations.
1. Get your onboarding process down.
Operational planning for the holiday shopping season takes a massive team effort in normal years, let alone when we’re dealing with a global pandemic. Now is the time to pull-up last year’s employee handbook and update it with any 2020-specific safety and cleaning protocols. Make sure full-time and seasonal staff understand the guidelines and are equipped with everything they need. Create templates now for checklists or staff communication emails, text messages or flyers and have a plan-of-action for communicating any last-minute changes.
2. Plan to spend extra time training seasonal employees.
We’ve never had to deal with a global pandemic and the rush of a holiday shopping season before (and let’s hope we never have to again!), so assume you’ll need to spend more time than usual training staff on holiday procedures. It’s important to document all of these guidelines, as mentioned above, but teaching an employee how to actually execute on these steps is another beast entirely. Prevent stress and frustration by allowing for extra training time.
3. Be flexible and have a Plan B (and C and D and E).
This is more important than ever! Staff might get sick. They may have to take time off unexpectedly to care for a sick family member. Or, if your employee is a parent, they may be juggling kids at home and surprise school closures. Remember, 2020 is not a normal year…by any means. Strategize your staffing Plan B (and C and D and E) now and get it down on paper.
4. Focus operational efforts on online shopping or curbside pick-up.
Online shopping was a major consumer preference before the pandemic, so can you imagine how many people will buy holiday gifts online this year? If you need to narrow in on where to make operational pivots this year, let online shopping or curbside pick-up be the focus. Whatever you can do to make it easier for your customers to shop safely, do it. Luckily, GoDaddy makes it easy to setup an online store.
5. Build-up your customer service team.
Free yourself up and let your retail associates focus on selling and inventory by hiring a professional virtual receptionist to field all customer service calls. Virtual receptionists serve as an extension of your team, answering customer phone calls and frequently asked questions, and even helping maximize your holiday sales by responding to emails or chat messages. You can train them to sound like an internal employee, so customers will never know that they’re speaking with an answering service when they call, message or email.
With just a few adjustments to staffing and operations, your small business can successfully navigate the unknowns of a COVID-19 holiday shopping season.