Giselle Gyalzan has always dreamed of owning her own shop, so when local retail store Rare Device went on sale in 2011 she jumped at the chance to purchase the business and make it her own. Since then, the shop has grown to add a second location – both in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Rare Device offers a beautiful assortment of personal and household items and is already well underway in preparing for the upcoming holiday rush. For the past four years, the store has employed seasonal workers to help with the busy time, and Giselle has learned a few things on hiring right for her business.
Hiring right for the business
Last year, Giselle used a temp agency to find seasonal help but admits it wasn’t the right fit for the business. “It was hard because we weren’t vetting any of the employees coming in so it was a little challenging. Some people from the agency were good, some not so great,” she says.
This season, she’s taking a more personal approach – one that’s served the business well in the past. Employee referrals, social media, and a ‘we’re hiring’ sign in the shop’s window are some of the ways she’s attracting potential hires.
“A lot of our current employees found out about job opportunities from seeing the for-hire sign. It’s super important because when you have that, you already attract people who are interested in you and know about you. So you already have that connection,” says Giselle.
Giselle suggests that small businesses start the search early enough so that they’re not scrambling to hire at the last minute. This year, she’s started the process in August to make sure there’s enough time to find and properly train the temporary employees.
Looking for two key traits in seasonal help
The customer service at Rare Device is something that Giselle holds a lot of pride in, and the employees she’s bringing on board have to reflect that – even if they’re only there for a few months. The small business owner stays involved in the hiring process from the start, and looks for two specific traits in seasonal workers.
Someone with a warm and inviting personality is essential from a customer service standpoint. Since the interaction between an employee and customer is so brief, there’s only a moment to make the customer feel welcome. That first impression can be key to making a sale.
“Even if they are seasonal workers, our customers won’t know if they are seasonal or regular when they interact with them, and we always want to give the best customer service,” says Giselle.
Her second must-have? Someone who’s organized. There are a lot of tasks that need to be completed, and it’s important to hire someone who can remain focused and detail-oriented when the store gets busy.
“We’ve had a few seasonal holiday workers that actually ended up staying with us because we needed more people after the season. It’s always a nice way to find people and make sure it’s a fit – for them and for us,” she continues.
Knowing how many workers to hire
And before the hiring process can even begin, Giselle needs to know how many additional employees she’s looking to hire. This is critical for her small business as hiring too little will spread everyone too thin and have an effect on customer service, and too much seasonal help brings unnecessary costs.
To get the number just right, Giselle uses Square and looks at the sales from previous years to anticipate what this season will look like. The point-of-sale system is used in both locations and helps take the guesswork out of staffing. Since the system also connects to her accounting software, Giselle uses Xero and Square to see the financials of the business – making sure there’s ample cashflow to support the additional staff.
Saving time through app integration
Operating in San Francisco, technology plays a big part in how Giselle runs her business, and when she took over Rare Device, Square was the first application she implemented. “I wanted a way to capture credit cards without using those clunky machines,” she says. Since then, she’s added on a number of different applications including Shopify for the shop’s ecommerce site and Gusto for payroll.
It’s important for Giselle to have these applications connect with the store’s accounting software so she’s not spending hours on data entry. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why she chose Xero as her accounting platform. “We wanted something that was more integrated [with our apps] so we didn’t have to manually do anything,” says Giselle.
Daily sales are automatically synched with Xero and her bank account so she’s able to check the financial health of both stores anytime and from anywhere. “The easier I can make it for myself, the more I can get done,” she says.
“We were using Quickbooks for a long, long time and I wanted something that I could access in the cloud. Quickbooks was saved on this really old laptop and I was always afraid it was going to crash and we would lose everything, so we moved to Xero,” she continues.
Since all the apps are interconnected, Giselle has access to data around the business, customers, and employees all in one place. The time she saves by automating processes lets her focus on finding the right seasonal workers. Rare Device is not just a business for Giselle, it’s her dream, so being part of the hiring process and making those connections with employees means everything.
Learn more on how to hire, train and manage seasonal workers from our 2016 seasonal hiring guide.