Holi-daze. As the year’s end fast approaches, and two holiday waves are about to crash into the produce aisle, I’m reminded of doling out a few tidbits of advice to new produce managers flush with stress. Call it the “12 Days of Holiday Sanity.”
1. Don’t panic. Holidays aren’t always the joyous times they’re cracked up to be. You’ll see customers rushed, sometimes irate, looking for last-minute produce purchases to go with the last-minute meal shopping. Do your level best to be understanding and accommodating.
2. Do be cheerful. Or at least as much as possible. Make it a point to coach your produce crew to acknowledge your customers. Of course, “yule” be busy stocking extra product and concentrating on tasks and productivity. Just remember who makes it all possible, smile and greet your customers.
3. Stay ahead of the rush. Try to be fully stocked each morning, and even more important, for each evening rush. Do everything you can think of to be prepared, such as rotating and building produce displays before anticipated customer traffic. This is the time that it’s all right to perhaps stock a layer or two higher and build spillover displays on all your “power” holiday-related items so the holding power matches your anticipated sales volume.
4. Prep ahead saves time. If your crisping, trimming, load receiving, etc., is done prior to stocking, it will streamline productivity and keep the shelves stocked.
5. Overnight shifts? Scheduling one or two clerks is an excellent, uninterrupted way to get a jump on prepping, load receiving and cleaning.
6. Schedule accordingly. If you can get schedules written a couple of weeks in advance, that leaves you more time to manage your department.
7. Keep an eye on the sky. Storms often mean delayed deliveries. So stay a day ahead on orders and keep an eye on the weather.
8. Know your “extra” items will take a hit. You know this list by now, so plan ahead: Fresh herbs, nuts, fruit baskets, dressings, green beans, relish items, dips and fruit & veggie trays are just a few.
9. Keep up with breaks and lunches. Take breaks during holidays? Especially during the holidays.
10. Exit strategy. Know when to wind down the holiday cheer, back off on orders, pull up the spillovers, prepare for post-holiday inventory, decor removal and cleanup.
11. Prepare holiday notes for next year. Focus on what worked, what didn’t, and file it all away for next year. You won’t remember all the details, so document everything.
12. Take time to enjoy some eggnog with your team. Hey, it’s the holidays for you and your crew as well!
Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 40 years’ experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions. E-mail him at [email protected].