As every retail store owner knows, summer is typically a scheduling nightmare. You may be using part-time, seasonal workers, such as high school or college students, who may be less than reliable. Even if you’re relying on your regular employees, scheduling around their vacations or desired days off — which tend to multiply in summer — can cause unnecessary headaches.
Here are seven common summer retail scheduling problems that retailers face and suggestions for solving them.
Fixes For Summer Retail Scheduling Issues
1) Being under-or over-staffed. Whether you have too many or too few retail salespeople on the floor, neither is ideal. Too many salespeople, and you’re spending money unnecessarily on payroll. Too few, and you’re (at best) hurting your reputation for service, and (at worst) losing sales if customers get so frustrated they walk out.
To solve this problem, use historical information about your store, such as the busiest times of the week or the day, to predict when you’ll need more or fewer employees. Your point-of-sale (POS) system or employee scheduling/time-tracking software should be able to provide this type of data. With a better idea of what staffing level you’ll need, you can schedule more accurately.
2) Poor communication. Employee schedules tend to change frequently in the summer, when people call in “sick” on a sunny Friday or bail because they got a last-minute opportunity to do something fun. If you’re still scheduling your employees using pencil and paper or even an Excel spreadsheet, constantly updating the information is a major pain — not to mention sharing it with everyone every time you make a change.
To solve this problem, look for employee scheduling/time-tracking software that enables you to keep employee schedules in the cloud. That way, whenever you update the information, your team can quickly access it no matter where they are. Of course, employees may not check the schedule in time to note a change, so choose software that offers a range of alternatives for alerting them, such as sending schedule updates by text, email or voice message depending on the person’s preference.
3) Employees trading shifts. It’s great when employees take it upon themselves to cover a shift by trading with another worker — that is, unless you don’t know about it because they forget to tell you. Or maybe they switch with a worker you don’t want in the store at that time (such as someone who’s not great at checkout working during your busiest time.)
To solve this problem, use employee scheduling/time-tracking software that lets employees communicate among themselves to trade shifts, but then alerts you or your manager so you can approve the shift change.
4) Accidental overtime. When your retail employees’ summer schedules change on a dime, it gets harder and harder to keep track of overtime, which can lead to big problems for you — and pay issues for your employees.
Solve this problem by using time-tracking software that alerts you whenever an employee is getting close to their overtime limit. You won’t have to worry about counting hours or shorting someone on their paycheck — it’s all handled for you.
5) Payroll pains. When employees’ schedules vary from the usual hours, as they often do during summer, generating payroll becomes more complex and it’s easier to mess up.
To solve this problem, avoid manual data entry. When you or someone on your staff has to enter payroll data by hand, there’s a big chance for human error. Instead, look for time-tracking software that automatically uploads tracked hours to your payroll and records system.
6) No-shows. As anyone who’s worked with seasonal employees knows, no-shows are an inherent risk, especially during summer. If you are not actually in the store when the person fails to show, you may not even know about it — and the remaining workers will have to struggle on their own.
Solve this problem by using scheduling and time-tracking software that alerts you when someone fails to clock in. Even if you’re on the go or at home instead of in your store, you’ll be able to quickly reach out to your team to find a replacement.
7) Managing multiple retail locations. If you have more than one store, your summer retail scheduling headaches multiply accordingly. Keeping track of who’s working when at two or more stores (and whether they actually show up) is enough to make your head spin.
Solve this problem by choosing time-tracking software that allows workers to clock in on their phones and uses GPS technology to show you where they physically are. That way, you know if they’re actually at your store or kicking back at the beach.
Do you have a summer retail scheduling solution you use? Please share in comments!
Scheduling Photo via Shutterstock