As we get nearer Christmas many hospitality businesses will be looking to take on seasonal staff to help you cope with the extra business. But are these temporary staff an asset or a liability? Here’s how you get the most our of your seasonal staff.

More than just hiring the right people

Hiring the right people is a prerequisite. But just because somebody has got experience in the industry doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be the right fit for your business. Their attitude towards putting the customer first and for teamwork is critical. Many customers will be coming to you for the first time so it’s imperative they’re given a great first impression, and when you’re busy, the last thing you want is someone who doesn’t pull their weight.

Being busy is not an excuse for a poor customer experience or inferior customer service. In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to impress first-time visitors. So just because it’s Christmas and you’re rushed off your feet, don’t let them leave disappointed.

In case you’re taking on extra seasonal staff, please make sure that they’re doing the best job possible to be outstanding ambassadors for your business. Here’s how you welcome them onboard.

1. Teamwork is key. Introduce new staff to the whole team, explaining everyone’s areas of responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort. Avoid the frictions that can occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.

2. Establish a clear line of reporting and who to go to for help and guidance when needed so they’re not left floundering or too scared to ask for help. Of course, ensure that whoever you assign to train them will be patient and supportive when asked any kind of questions.

3. Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them from day one. Clarify basic standards: dress code, time keeping, breaks, staff behaviour, staff meals, security, food safety, health and safety.

4. First impressions count. Specify your establishment’s standards for welcoming and greeting customers, including your booking/reservation procedures if this is part of their role.

5. Do they have a role in up-selling, and if so what products do you want them to promote, including any future events? If your core team is incentivized, it’s only fair you include seasonal staff in the scheme too.

6. Ensure thorough product knowledge; people can’t sell something they don’t know exists. Tell them about what you offer, your opening hours, complementary products, and of course any seasonal variations to your normal offerings. Let your staff experience what you offer, explain what accompanies each service and what it should look like, what prices include and what’s extra (especially with fixed tariffs or party packages).

7. Establish protocol in dealing with difficult situations, customer complaints, and awkward customers. Define the line between handling difficult situations themselves and when to seek intervention from a manager or more experienced staff members.

8. Run through the payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed.

9. Provide out of hours contact names and establish procedures for sickness reporting to minimize the risk of being let down at the last minute. Give your employees the best tools to stay in close contact with you and each other.

10. Maintain your reputation as a good employer. Treat your seasonal staff well, and they’ll be willing to come back next time you need an extra hand. Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole season. Involve them in any after work social activities and maybe some incentives awarded at the end of the season.

Follow these tips and you’ll see how efficient your seasonal staff planning can be. Here’s to a very successful and profitable Christmas season.

Caroline Cooper is a speaker, author, trainer and consultant on customer service and customer loyalty. Caroline is founder of Naturally Loyal who specializes in helping businesses develop their teams to deliver consistently great customer service to retain more of their quality customers. She is the author of “The Hotel Success Handbook” on practical sales and marketing actions for small hotels and of the free Ultimate Customer Service Guide which you can download here.

Want a helping hand in dealing with the seasonal staff schedule? Check out how an online and mobile employee scheduling tool will keep you on top of any fluctuating staffing needs throughout the busiest time of year. Click here to find out more.

Lisa Andersen
Lisa Andersen Content Editor
Part of Planday’s content team in Copenhagen, Lisa is into yoga and loves good writing. Her experience includes working with communication and PR for international grassroots organizations in Argentina and Bolivia.