Good LSM: Keeping Lines Short

 In Good-Bad LSM, How To, New Store

This past weekend (yes, the weekend before Christmas) I made the mistake of going to Target (where everyone else on the planet is also doing their last minute Christmas shopping). I had uploaded some photos online to be printed in store, and I figured that that line wouldn’t be very long (since it’s not a typical register, per se). Boy, was I wrong! Of course everyone else had the great idea to print photos for personalized holiday gifts! So, I hoped in the back of the line (of about 10 people) and grabbed a magazine from the rack for some entertainment – I figured I would be there for a while.

However, within a few minutes, I heard, “I can help who’s next,” and I was picking up my photos at the register. As opposed to the typical Target employee uniform of a red shirt and khakis, my cashier was wearing a Starbucks uniform – she usually works at the Starbucks inside the Target. However, she let me know that she can pitch in behind the photo/returns counter when needed. When she saw the long line form, she and several employees from throughout the store were dispatched to help out. By the time I finished checking out, the line had diminished, and several of the “extra” employees returned to their stations elsewhere in the store. What an easy and practical solution to the problem!

Long lines at the register can be a bummer – especially around the holidays! And while not every small business has a large team of employees (like Target), there are things that you and your employees can do to expedite the lines and keep customers happy.

Tips for shorter register lines:

  1. Always make the customer that is live and in front of you (in the store) your priority. If the phone rings, pass it off to an employee not working at the register, or let it go to voicemail.
  2. Train all (or, at least most) employees to work the register(s). That way, you always have back up when you need it.
  3. That being said, train all employees to work with a sense of urgency, and to keep an eye on register lines so that they can jump in and help, or get someone that can help.
  4. If you have multiple registers, offer to take employees to another register if the line reaches a certain length.
  5. Keep your POS area tidy and stocked. That way you don’t have to run back to the stock room for supplies and delay customers further.
  6. If there’s room, offer to hold the next customer’s item or heavy shopping basket behind the register, so they don’t have to stand there holding it or resort to setting it on the floor.
  7. If a transaction requires a phone call or paperwork (like a return or special order), ask if you can help the customer to the side and then return to the register when/if you need to.
  8. If there is a technological delay (computer freezes or credit card reader is offline), explain the issue to the customers in line – so they aren’t left in the dark about the delay. If possible, re-route the line to another register.
  9. Thank customers for their patience once they arrive at the register.
  10. Thank customers again for their patience once they are leaving the register.

Do you have any other tips for keeping register lines short and mostly enjoyable?

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