There is a scheduling myth I have heard for many years, and although on the surface it seems to make sense, I don’t think it is in the best long-term interest of your store. The myth is that you should schedule your best sales people for your peak hours and your worst sales people for your off hours. Let me tell you where the flaw is in this thinking.
In November 1991 I moved to San Diego, CA. I immediately got two jobs there. One was teaching Outdoor Education for the Orange County School District at Camp Edwards near Big Bear Lake. The other was selling sporting goods for Cal Stores – a ten-store chain of sporting goods and apparel stores in San Diego County (since bought out by Big 5 Sporting Goods).
I spent Monday morning through Friday morning in the mountains above San Bernardino teaching kids about geology and ecology. I spent Saturday and Sunday selling tennis rackets and weight sets.
At Cal Stores we were paid on commission. Each week they would post the top selling people across the chain in sales per hour. I was usually #2 for the entire chain, right behind the guy who sold all the ski packages. I wasn’t #2 because of my selling skills, but because I had the two best shifts—Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t have any mundane Mondays to drag my average down.
In the above myth, I would always get the peak times and best shifts because my numbers were top notch. And I would hold onto those shifts because those shifts would keep my numbers higher than the Tuesday and Wednesday slackers. It would self-perpetuate. I would stay on top and feel no need to improve. Plus it would drag down the morale of everyone not getting the prime times.
Do you see the flaw now?
Smart managers understand the importance of having top levels of sales and service at peak times, but they also look for ways to raise the level of all the staff so that everyone can perform at peak and off-peak. They look for ways to pair top sales people with learners to help both become better (the former by teaching, the latter by being with the former). They split up the hours, knowing that sometimes you need the busy hours for the learners to hone their skills, and sometimes you need the slower hours to know if your top sales people are truly good or just lucky.
Smart managers realize that raising the bar for everyone helps the business far more in the long run than just maximizing the peak hours. They realize that a properly trained staff maximizes sales at all hours (and there are some big sales you can do during the perceived off-hours.)
Smart managers realize when everyone performs at a high level they have more flexibility for scheduling around vacations and special requests for time off. They have more staff available for special events. They have more trust that the staff will perform no matter the situation.
If you have a few top performing sales people and a few that need some work, don’t just throw all the prime rib at the top people and leave the scraps for everyone else. Give them all a taste of the good stuff and teach them all how to rock your customers’ worlds every day of the week.
That’s what the smart managers do.
PS I wasn’t a great salesperson back then. I was just lucky with my shifts. Fortunately I was (and still am) a competitive guy who is always looking for ways to improve. Not every salesperson thinks that way. Smart managers find ways to help everyone improve and raise the overall bar for the store.
PPS No, not everyone will perform at the same level. Your goal, however, is to help each person on your team get to the next level no matter where he or she is right now.