In the world of home improvement retail, the majority of sales of seasonal manufactured goods occur between February and June, depending on where you live on the gardening map. This time of the year is lovingly called the 100 Days of Hell, because it’s a huge volume condensed into a tight time frame. So who needs 100 days of help?
Strategic Sales Management – Finding a better process
Whether your seasonal categories are for landscape products like seeds and insecticides, or outdoor power equipment like lawnmowers, walk-behinds, string trimmers, leaf blowers, and so forth, the story is the same.
Over that short duration of time, the majority of retailers are doing from 50 – 80% of their annual volume between Feb and May in many of their seasonal categories. It’s a very condensed selling period that manufacturers and retailers want to take the most advantage of that they possibly can, because once the season’s gone—you can’t get it back.
Why 100 Days?
Once the heat picks up moving into the summer months, the buying of flowers, mowers, seed, insecticides and herbicides slows dramatically. A Retailer has to be prepared from a sales standpoint, a management standpoint, in order to go into that season. Not only with staff and products, but also with marketing and promotional materials to go along with it.
Retailers begin talking about how the season is trending in May so they can start helping the manufacturers and suppliers see areas where they’ve had the most successes. They’ll continue to look at the wins and losses they’re seeing from the current year in order to capitalize on that in the following season.
Retailers will generally start their line review process in June, beginning conversations in May and then finalizing decisions in September.
How does that impact hiring?
From a retailer perspective, the end of the prime season is a time for cutting back hours pretty significantly. One of the biggest home improvement retailers had recently hired eight thousand part-time employees and another had hired four thousand, in order to ramp up for the seasonal period.
Those hours were probably 30-35 hours per person for the seasonal employees, just to keep the aisles full—to keep customer associates in the aisles. Now they’re probably down to 15 hours or lower, which shows the very big ramp up/ ramp down for the period.
Why this change is difficult all around
The accelerated change during these “100 Days” is not only for the manufacturers from a product standpoint of manufacturing for the pipeline—ordering components, and so on. It’s also true for Retailers who are flexing up and down with their associates.When you’re a big box retailer, you have to find people in all of your markets that are capable of, among other things, face-to-face sales interactions with some valuable knowledge about the products that they’re going to sell.
There are a lot of steps that go into hiring a seasonal employee, all things that a large outsourcing company is specifically equipped to handle. Are you addressing the top 10 issues?
When customer satisfaction approaches disaster
You may be looking for some strategic sales management solutions if your stores are familiar with the Saturday morning crunch scenario, which happens when, during the outdoor equipment sales season, there are customer satisfaction issues on, say, a Saturday morning. This disaster scenario threatens when there are 30-40 people in the aisles and they’re not being helped by someone who’s qualified to help them with the particular problem they’re trying to address at their home. Ever been there?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Travis Sawyers, director of new business development, is a 15 year veteran in the big box retail space with experience in multiple categories including tools, hardware, bathing and seasonal product lines. Travis writes about innovations in products and field marketing strategies that make management of the outdoor world easier and faster for residential consumers and landscapers alike.
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