Tried-and-True Tips on Preparing for Peak
No matter how long you’ve been in business — whether you’re just starting out or have been through more peak seasons than you can count — there’s always something to learn. We’ve asked store owners over the years for some tips that can help make the next few months run smoothly — or just change things up a bit. Take a look, use what you can and pass along some tips of your own. You can print a copy of the PDF to hang in your back-room area.
Prepare for Peak Checklist
- Inventory. Use last year’s sales to determine how much packaging you need this year. You may have already purchased your supplies for the holidays, but take this time to reevaluate whether you need additional materials to stay ahead of the game. If you’re new to your store, contact your account executive or the previous owner for a glimpse at your expected volume for this year’s peak season.
- Ordering supplies. You must order supplies by Nov. 25. FedEx will not ship any supply orders, such as envelopes, boxes, tubes and airbills, during the blackout period Dec. 9–24.
- FedEx pickup times. Work with your FedEx Express courier and FedEx Ground driver to schedule later pickup times or additional daily pickups during the busier periods, such as the weekends of Dec. 14–15 and Dec. 21–22. Keep in contact with them for any necessary adjustments to your schedule. Also, consider the volume of returns that will come in after peak season.
- FedEx last days to ship. Post the last days to ship FedEx Express®, FedEx Ground® and FedEx Home Delivery® shipments so packages arrive at their destinations on or before Tuesday, Dec. 24. Go to the Last Days to Ship page at fedex.com to get key shipping dates, and bookmark it for easy retrieval. Stamp reminders of these dates on the back of your business cards for customers.
- FedEx® Service Alerts. Bookmark the Service Alerts, Regulatory Updates & Important Notifications page on fedex.com to get the latest news of inclement weather or other conditions that might affect shipment deliveries.
- Seasonal team members. To find additional help during peak, contact last year’s temporary workers and post in-store “help wanted” signs now so you’ll have training time before peak kicks into high gear. Call former team members who have retired or left on good terms, ask college students on break, and contact your local AARP office.
- Preholiday meeting. Get new and seasoned team members up to speed on what to expect during the rush, remind them of your customer service philosophies, tell them of any changes in your store’s procedures and inform them of scheduling expectations.
- Checklist of daily tasks. Create and post a checklist of everyday jobs, such as cleaning and premaking boxes, to ensure all the basics are covered — an especially helpful tool for new and temporary workers.
- Scheduling. Plan for extra cleanup time after closing and for restocking in the morning. Keep in mind that late gift shippers and tracking requests from anxious customers may require extra staff through the final week of December.
- Marketing. Post ads in college newspapers, flyers and direct mail materials. Hand out business cards to regular and new customers as reminders of your hours. Use radio spots to broadcast your store’s location and hours, shipping deadlines, cutoff dates, and other holiday shipping news.
- Social media. Let customers know your hours and service offerings with our social media posts, which you can download at no cost.
- Decorate. When you’re decorating your store for the holidays, keep in mind that you can order our holiday posters at no cost from the Marketing Toolbox on FASCnet.com.
- Store hours. Update your holiday store hours on FASCnet.com, and use our two-sided hours of operation door decal to post your FedEx Express and FedEx Ground pickup times. Order a decal at no cost from the Marketing Toolbox at FASCnet.com.
- POS system. If you're using an additional POS system just for the holidays, test it beforehand to ensure you have all the necessary hardware to get it running and that the current operating system is installed and compatible with your computer. Ensure your system has the most recent update, and test it early to verify your pricing is entered correctly.
- Pricing. If you're making any changes to your prices, verify they're input correctly in your POS system and displayed on your store's service pricing board.
- Store layout. Determine the best store layout for busy periods. Are your aisles wide enough to accomodate extra shoppers? Do you have the equipment and space needed? Do you need extra shelving or racks for holiday impulse items?
- Shopping baskets. For customers juggling multiple items for shipping, have baskets available near the door or have your greeter offer them to customers needing to lighten their load.
- Impulse purchase items. Display small or lightweight holiday products and greeting cards on shelves or racks where customers can look them over and add them to their shipments.
- Assembly line. Use a temporary worker to greet customers as they come into the store. Durng the busy periods, have your greeter help customers waiting in line select the proper packaging for their items and write a list of each item on a packing form. While the customer is waiting, another staff member designated only for packing shipments can box the items so the package is ready for shipping when the customer approaches the counter.
- Back room. Designate a section of your back room that can be used for packing items for shipping. During rush periods, boxes of items to be shipped can be packaged later — but ensure an itemized list of what is being shipped is completed by the customer and securely taped to the box.
- Packing. Keep the How to Pack guidelines on hand for newer employees.
- Batteries. Customers may not be aware of restrictions when shipping toys or other items that contain batteries. Ensure your employees ask whether any items being shipped include lithium batteries or other batteries classified as dangerous goods. NOTE: Your FedEx Authorized ShipCenter (FASC) Agreement prohibits your store from shipping dangerous goods and hazardous materials via FedEx® services.
- Return shipping and dropoffs. Convert holiday customers into regulars by telling them about your other products and services. Create store business cards that advertise your return dropoff services, and plan for extra staff for a few weeks after the holidays.
- Post-holiday recovery. When the lines subside after the holiday, and while the peak rush is still fresh in your mind, jot down some learnings you can use to prepare for next year. Consider:
- Did you start preparing early enough? Was there anything you didn't anticipate that caused delays? What date would be best to start preparing?
- Did you have enough staff? Were they well trained?
- What came up during the busy periods that you didn't expect?
- Were your hours and days open sufficient, or should you extend them?
- Should you market your store's offerings more? What kind of marketing tools would help?
- Did you have enough inventory?
- If you offered refreshments to your customers, were there enough? Were they mess-free so they didn't cause extra work?
- Did you have enough healthy snacks on hand for your staff? Did you make sure they had at least 15 minutes of break every 4–6 hours and their required time for lunch?
- Is there a better way to manage long lines or set up an express system for dropped-off packages?
Good luck over the holidays! We wish you glad tidings.
FedEx makes no warranties, express or implied, regarding the effectiveness or success of practicing these peak-season preparations. Anyone using these methods does so at their own risk. Please consult with a professional for information more tailored to your specific needs.