One of the most important things you can do as your busy season approaches is
staff training and education. Most businesses add new staffers for the busy
season (holiday or otherwise) and will need to focus on various aspects of
training the new hires. In addition, they will need to get seasoned staffers to
brush up and be ready for what lies ahead.
Having a plan for educating your staff is an invaluable way to ensure
consistency and that nothing is lacking when your staff is thrown to the bus
season wolves. Consider creating a handbook for your crew to provide easy access
(and eliminate excuses.)
Let's start with basic stuff. Clearly communicate scheduling details, attendance
policy, and payroll/payday info. You may wish to include any sales goals and
define their job description so they will know exactly what is expected of them.
Hopefully this was covered during the hiring process but it is good to have it
in writing and get the team member to sign it on their first day of work.
Ensure all team members are familiar with using point of
sale equipment and that they practice all various transaction types. Return
procedures and cash handling policies should be included. You don't want to find
out several weeks down the road that someone is failing to process something
correctly and causing errors in your sales capture.
If your business is tea centric, your staff must, must, must have tea
education. Customers tend to have many questions (and much misinformation) about
tea and will turn to your staff for answers. It is important to provide tea
basics a list of FAQs (frequently asked questions) with answers to ensure your
staff is providing the correct information in the way you want it disseminated.
Our educational website TeaClassTeaClass is free for all use and educate those
who seek tea information. It is a great resource that is designed to be used by
shop owners to track their employees' progress.
Once you provide Tea 101, you have to reinforce with tea tasting
sessions with your team. Start with good examples from each category (white,
green, oolong, black, etc.) then move through the rest of your tea line.
Encourage your staff to cup regularly, and to not just brew their favorites. In
depth familiarity with every one of your teas will provide confidence when
communicating each tea's character to your customers.
There are many styles of selling as much as there are things to
sell. You may have a preference for how you want your staff to sell your
products, hard sell v. soft touch for example, and must teach this to your crew.
Just as a hard sell style can turn customers off, too soft of an approach can
come across as not caring - this is just as dangerous as coming on too strong!
Also it is important not to assume that sales skills are innate. Most people
will need some guidance as they develop their own style.
Naturally, having information about each item you sell available
to your staff is key to ensuring customer satisfaction as well as sales. Have
your staff devise several selling points for each item and choose the ones you
would like them to focus on. Keep an open forum about unusual questions or new
uses that should be shared among your team. Encourage use of accessory items and
different brewing methods to ensure familiarity.
Lastly, check in with your team. Don't assume all is going well and that no news
is good news. Make sure you or your lead person is asking every team member
daily if they have questions or any suggestions. Fresh eyes can offer
perspective to help you improve your operations or even just fill in holes in
your training process. Keep the communication (and your mind) open and make time
to learn from staff experiences. Adaptability is the key to survival.