It’s almost that time of year again. The holidays are approaching, it’s American Thanksgiving, and hundreds of thousands of customers are itching to hit the shopsyes, it’s Black Friday.

For your company, it is either your time to shine (Target), your time to close down the shops (REI), or your time to take things to the next level online (Cards Against Humanity).

If you’re going to stand strong and open the doors for the madness to come on Friday, then we’re here to help. We stand by you! We’re here to make sure that your employees are informed, trained, and motivated to help your company strive during Black Friday.

So, how can you make sure employees are ready?


1. Train beforehand

In order to have a winning team, ongoing training is essential. Does your team know about current sales and promotions, the newest products, and the sales floor layout plans? Are they knowledgeable about your company’s goals for this season? For Black Friday specifically?

At any given time, there is a lot for employees to know in order to provide an exceptional customer experience. It’s important to make sure you train and educate your employees to help them better serve your customers, whether they’re answering a question on where to find a product in-store, or giving a recommendation.

Tip: Keep it micro. Instead of relying solely on store updates, town halls, or morning meetings, try training your team on an ongoing basis by using bite-sized, micro communications. In fact, in a study conducted by Edelman, it was discovered that the average time a retail employee spends on corporate communications per week averages at less than 2 minutes per day. Their time is short, so any communication or training should be quick, digestible, and easy to act on.


2. Perfect your game plan

Looking back to last year, did your game plan work? Did you have a game plan in the first place? Yes, half the fun of Black Friday is the madnessbut you should still have a method to that madness.

The purpose of Black Friday comes down to boosting sales. Are there specific sales goals that your team is trying to reach? Maybe this year one of your Black Friday goals is to increase loyalty program memberships or to build out your mailing lists for email marketing. Whatever it is, make sure that your game plan is strategic, realistic, and measurable.

Tip: Gamify it. You have a game plan… but why will employees care? Try creating location-based challenges, recognizing achievement, and providing rewards. By doing so, you’ll have a way to fuel internal competition and motivate employees to go above and beyond. When game-design principles are applied to everyday work activities, organizations often see improvement in employee engagement by over 48%.


3. Get the team onboard

So, you’ve trained your employees and gotten a Black Friday game plan in place – congratulations! You’re almost ready for the big day. Now, you need to get your employees on board with your Black Friday strategy.

Besides using game-design principles to incentivize employees, boosting morale and motivating performance can also be achieved through your communication strategy. Retail is fast-paced and constantly changing. Do you have a communication channel in place that aligns with the work environment? Although this is not a unique need for Black Friday, it is something that can make or break your team’s success.

Tip: Go mobile. Almost everyone and anyone have a smartphone these days. Chances are, your employees have a smartphone, and that smartphone will be in their pocket during their workday. Globally, the average millennial spends more than 3 hours per day on their mobile devices. If you can leverage that channel to reach employees in real-time, for pressing information (think: your inventory of winter jackets is now sold out), or for training (think: do team members know the top promotions of the day?)why wouldn’t you?


4. Focus on the customer

Ok, you’ve made it to Black Friday. It will be over soon, and hopefully, things will go smoothly. You can get through it. Think turkey. Think Christmas songs. You can do this!

In a survey conducted by Time Trade, consumers were asked what they value most during the shopping experience. The results? Customer experience comes first. 54% of consumers said having prompt service was most important to them, and having a personalized experience or smart recommendations came after. Needless to say, the in-store customer experience is more important than ever, which should remain the top focus for employees, especially on Black Friday.

Tip: Share useful tips. Give your employees ideas for providing the ultimate customer experience. Try helping your team to do their job better, from giving them example greetings to use, answers to FAQ’s, or asking for their feedback and ideas directly. This Black Friday, try to make sure that your team is focused on helping the customer find what they’re looking for, rather than cleaning up displays.


5. Reward hard work

Managers are probably dreading the Black Friday madness – and so are your employees. They will be hounded by customers, questions, and demands – all while trying to tidy up the sales floor, only for it to be destroyed within minutes. By recognizing their hard work and providing perks, you can help keep your employees happy and motivated.

In order to show your appreciation for your hardworking team, you must show immediate recognition. Millennials represent the largest age demographic of retail workers and place a strong value on receiving constant recognition for their good performance.

Tip: Motivate your team with constant encouragements! A “Good job!” or a high five can go a long way in creating a positive work environment. Even small rewards, like food, can help to brighten their day and reward hard work – especially if it’s pizza.’