• December 21, 2014

Local businesses get through busy holiday periods with seasonal sales staff

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Posted: Sunday, January 12, 2014 4:30 am

Sierra Trexler didn’t plan to work at Michele’s Floral & Gifts in Copperas Cove for more than two weeks, much less for almost a year.

Trexler was visiting friends in Copperas Cove last February when she visited the store with a friend. Michele McGuire, owner of the shop, was looking for extra help for Valentine’s Day business so she offered Trexler, 20, a temporary job for the holiday season.

“It was more of the cleaning up and the background stuff like taking in the flower orders,” Trexler said. “It was really encouraging, because this was actually my first job as an employee. I was really nervous when I first started working because I was afraid of making a mistake.”

Seasonal jobs like Trexler’s are important for retailers and service providers during the holidays. For several Central Texas businesses, the Christmas holiday season just ended or is about to close. For others, such as Michele’s Florist, the holiday season is just starting.

More than 1,400 jobs were added to the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan area in November, according to the Central Texas Workforce Center.

Jerry Haisler, Central Texas Workforce Centers executive director, said holiday jobs were included in that number but didn’t know exactly how many could be attributed to seasonal hiring. Businesses in retail and

leisure categories added 1,100 jobs in November in the greater Killeen area.

“You see a lot those holiday jobs created in the malls, stores and restaurants,” Haisler said.

Barnes and Noble hired 7 to 9 new people for the holiday season, said Karen Williams, stores manager. Some of those were hired for seasonal positions and others were hired to replace employees who left.

Bealls in Copperas Cove hired about four positions to help with holiday crowds, said Ngoc Bartch, a manager at the department store.

“The intention and the spirt of hiring seasonal (employees) is (to serve) the influx of business at that time,” Williams said.

Who works seasonally?

Many people who fill holiday positions are college students, teachers and people looking for extra part time work for additional revenue, Haisler said.

McGuire said her flower shop staffs the same employees every year for the Valentine’s Day season, but she always has opportunities for new workers like Trexler to be added during the holiday.

Bealls also tries to stick with its regular seasonal help and reaches out to them first before looking at new applications, Bartch said.

“You first draw on people you know because it is temporary,” McGuire said. “You kind of look for people who are retired and want to work for a few days.”

Some people who take seasonal jobs are unemployed, Haisler said. For those employees, a temporary position often becomes permanent.

Keeping the job

Retail businesses often experience frequent turnover in staff, Haisler said.

“If a seasonal employee shows up on time, does a good job and has good costumer service skills, then you hire them,” he said. “As the employee you want to be able to prove yourself. Market yourself if you are an employee, and the best way you can do that is show them what you can do. It is better to show them in action than on a resume.”

All of Barnes & Noble’s seasonal employees were offered permanent positions, Williams said. The holiday season is a good time to see how employees perform when business is brisk.

“Anytime someone works well under pressure they are going to do well when things slow down as well,” Williams said.

Trexler is the perfect example of an employer finding a good employee from seasonal help, McGuire said. She was given a permanent position at Michele’s Florist after Valentine’s Day last year and is more than ready for the upcoming season.

“There is nothing like seeing someone work under fire,” McGuire said. “You can see their temperament because we work 15 to 20 hours a day (during the holiday time), and if they can do that, they can make it through anything.”

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