50 Things Retail Employees Can Do When They're Not Busy

By Bob Phibbs

bored retail employeesWhat to do when your retail employees are standing around and your store is not busy...

You probably don’t mind them taking a well-deserved break after a stressful customer or clearing their mind after finishing a task.

But there's a line between a break and just being lazy, and a good manager knows when it's been crossed. If you let them just wait for customers, the entire energy in your store will suffer.

You hope your sales team wants to keep busy but if they aren't willing to find constructive ways to fill extra time, for their own employee development then you have to assign tasks. Here's a caveat...These tasks shouldn’t be thought of as busywork as many of them can only happen when your store is empty.

It’s best to find ways for employees to work together, but if you can’t do that because one needs to be in the storefront, both can still be busy, but busy separately.

The easiest thing to have employees do, and the thing that should always be done first, is to have them clean.

Keep reading if you feel everyone knows to clean. Customers notice much more than employees, so be very specific in your instructions. (This is about half of the full list you can download for free.)

You can download the full 50 tips here

The following are things that tend to be forgotten and in some cases need to be done throughout the day, not just when you open:

  • Clean the glass on the entry doors and front windows.
  • Sweep the front sidewalk
  • Knock down cobwebs in the corners of the ceilings and floors.
  • Check the bathroom for cleanliness and clean if necessary.
  • Check for moldy stuff in the staff refrigerator and toss it. Clean if necessary.
  • Wipe the counters and all machines clean.
  • Check the dressing rooms for pins in the carpet, not just hangers and clothes.

There are things you can do when it’s just you on the sales floor:

  • Check that all remnants of holiday decorations and promotions including tape, wires and strings are removed.
  • Process returns.
  • Put merchandise holds back.
  • Size a stack of pants or shirts, largest waist/longest length on the bottom.
  • Pick a rack and make sure every item is priced and tagged accordingly.

When there are more than two of you in the store:

  • Role-play a sale.
  • Role-play a return without receipt.
  • Give another employee a list of ten items to find in your store; time them while they look.
  • Create a scenario where employees find the biggest add-on to a sale in just five minutes.
  • Find the ugliest item in the store and come up with how you could sell it.

If you are the manager:

  • Analyze your sales figures and markdown those items rarely sold, overbought or dated.
  • Analyze your store’s online reviews on sites like Yelp, then find a solution to stop the bad comments from recurring.
  • Teach an employee how to order supplies, check in shipments, make a call tag, etc. so those employees can take on more responsibilities and see a path to the next level of employment.

Of course, once a customer comes in, all of this stops to greet the customer.

See also, 11 Ways Your Retail Employees Convert Buyers Into Lookers And Sabotage Your Sales

In Sum

There are probably hundreds of tasks to give retail staff when it is slow that will help you when business picks up. That’s why you need to develop a specific list like this for your own store instead of using the old saw, “If you can lean you can clean.”

To increase your employee performance management skills, remember your employees are human beings who want to do work that is challenging and important, so giving them time to develop and educate others on your team should be equally balanced with chores.

If you accomplish both of these things, you will find that you have a sales team with more of a sense of accomplishment, which in turn improves morale and retention.

Be specific and have fun with it – you’re paying them anyways so why not find ways to keep them engaged, learning and moving – not only cleaning and straightening.

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