November darkness descends, the ground begins to tremble and the gates to Retail Hell will open! Grab your holy water, dig a trench and send a prayer to Thrognar! The Black Friday assault is close at hand.
Our next survival tip is about Safety.
For decades now we have see Black Friday violence at its worst. Over the last few years, it's calmed down a bit, as there is better crowd control now and less trampling, but the fights over merchandise will never end. Sometimes those fights will occur hours after being open over a last item.
Even though Black Friday is your job and yes, you have to give great customer service and for the most part the neurotic customer is always right (even when their not), but you do not have to involve yourself with people who have Black Friday rage in their eyes and they want to verbally abuse or assault you over the last $10 Coffee Maker.
If an altercation breaks out with custys and they are not stopping or have threatened you, your best plan of action is to call for backup. Let management handle it or call the police if the custys are really out of control. We've seen time and time again, stores that don't support workers protecting themselves by fighting back. The abusive Black Friday custy's ridiculousness is not worth you losing your job or God forbid getting injured. Remove yourself from the situation by taking no action and call someone else to handle it.
Before the sale starts, you should absolutely request or know management review all Black Friday protocols and procedures with you and your co-workers. Everyone needs to be on the same page to ensure this very hectic day runs smoothly (or as smoothly as possible!).
Specific information on these topics should be covered:
- How lines will be managed
- How many people will be allowed in the store at once
- Return, exchange and discount policies
- And how to handle complaints
Know your responsibilities, what decisions you're authorized to make and how to quickly get management assistance.
If you have a question or concern, ask. Chances are, if you're unclear, your co-workers are, too. If you have a suggestion, speak up. You know the job, and your opinion is valuable. Give management a chance to hear and respond to your needs. Explain why an extra coffee pot in the break room or a backup person at the register is important.
Be sure you know who your "relief" person is so you can schedule much-needed breaks. Check in with your relief before the day begins to set up a plan. Agree on break times and signals to communicate effectively. Be pleasant and helpful -- you'll need each other!
Learn the names (if you don't already know) of all employees working on Black Friday. This includes porters, managers, supply personnel (shelf-stockers, inventory, back-of-store workers), security, greeters, cashiers, sales.
You never know who or what you may need. Get to know everyone, so you can help each other. Know where fire extinguishers are, where first aid kits are, and what to do in the event of someone getting hurt. Your store will have policies for both customers and employees. Review both.
This year's Black Friday also comes with added fears about terrorists and crazy people with guns. It's always good to have a plan if something should happen. Know where all the exits are in your building and which way you will hide or run if something bad is going down.
Be safe on this Black Friday RHU!