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Retail Holiday Sales Training: 15 Things You Must Teach Seasonal Employees

retail seasonal help trainingYour full retail sales training is most likely more thorough and involved than for your holiday seasonal employees.  But don’t throw up your hands and make the mistake of teaching them only the register!

To move sales they need to understand – quite simply – that they must concentrate on the customer.

15 Things Every Retailer Must Train Seasonal Employees:

  1. When you see a customer, stop what you are doing, look up so you can meet their eyes and then approach them in a non-threatening way with a greeting like, “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.” If a customer is at the register waiting, take the initiative to see if you can ring them up.

  2. Listen to the customer to find out why, on this day, they came in to your store. Your time will go by more quickly, when you see every interaction as different.
  3. Say we not them or they. Otherwise you sound like an outsider. You are a part of our success. We will not survive in business without you.
  4. Be on time. There will be traffic. There will be parking off-site and having to wait for a shuttle. There’s still no excuse for being late for a shift.

  5. Turn your phone to vibrate and put it away while on the floor. We’re not paying you to look in the palm of your hand, so use your phone on your time.

  6. Customers can be rude, angry and unreasonable. Don’t share your stories of how awful they were with other employees – and especially not to our customers. The pace of the holidays will be crazy busy; keep your own attitude above the fray.

  7. We all have stress, family and personal concerns. We will all get along much better if there is no additional drama brought onto the sales floor. When you walk in the door, leave your problems at the door.

  8. Patrol the floor. If you see it, step over it or kick it –  pick it up and dispose of it. That goes for anything from a ripped price tag to a used diaper- yes, we get those now and then.

  9. It’s great to have friends, but please don’t have them visit you while you are working; you’re working.

  10. Since we spend a lot of time on scheduling, a manager has to approve any “switching” of days, times or breaks.

  11. We take theft seriously and will investigate and prosecute accordingly. We also conduct random checks of the trash.

  12. Just because you may not be able to afford some of our more expensive items, doesn’t mean our customers can’t. Your goal is to help us sell that merchandise and make our customers’ holiday gifting fun.

  13. You are an important part of our business. You’re here to make some extra cash for the holidays. We’re here to make our customers’ holidays joyful. We can’t do it without you.

  14. It’s never a sin to wear a grin. Remember to keep a sense of humor.
  15. If you don’t know the answer to a question posed by a customer, tell them you don’t know and that you’ll find someone who does.


I asked my Facebook and Twitter fans what they would add to the list and received several. Here are a few of them…

Jim Zaccaria added, “Stealing anything will land you in jail.”

Steven Rosen added, “Show up on time ready to work your full shift.”

VelocityMarketing added, “Take ownership and responsibility for every customer interaction.”

Kate Tanner added, “I start my seasonal employee training with, ‘Welcome. Great employees stay. Invaluable employees stay after the holidays if they want the job.’”

What would you add? Please post in comments below

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Posted by Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor on November 8, 2012.

This entry was posted in Retail Sales and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to “Retail Holiday Sales Training: 15 Things You Must Teach Seasonal Employees”

  1. Tim Holliday says:

    Hi Bob,

    Always love to read your posts, and this one is no exception. You are right on with all of these. I would add to make sure you get your customer’s information/sign them up for your newsletter/or whatever else you store does to keep incontact with them throughout the year.

  2. We start with the staff manual. It reads, in its entirety, thus:

    Take care of customers.

    Keep track of stock

    Keep track of money.

    Maintain the space.

    Take care of each other.

  3. FranFazekask says:

    Treat customers the way you want to be treated when you shop. Pretend the customer is a friend you haven’t met yet. Regarding punctuality – If you arrive on time for your shift, you’re late. Arriving five minutes early is being on time. As for attendance – it’s a seasonal, short term job, please don’t ask frequently for days off. For retailers – don’t treat your seasonals like unwanted stepchildren just because they’re only with you for a month or so. Show them respect, that they are valued, and that they *are* part of the team.

  4. Jerry Long says:

    One that brings positive comments from our customers is and we have all staff do this. Always count the change out when giving it to the customer. Yes errors do happen and this helps prevent them.
    Also I will give this article to the local high school teacher in charge of the retail class. Kids need to know these concerns are universal in business.

  5. Bob, Always good to get you advice and appreciate your sharing your knowledge with us. Saturday is ASTRA’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day and it should give our newbies a taste of what’s right around the corner!
    Priscilla