Yesterday I wrote about the run-up to Black Friday in Corporate Secrets. Here’s what happened.
They say the initial minutes of an incident are when it is won or lost.
We all knew our assignments, but no one knew exactly when the plan was being deployed. We all came in early, but the pre-shift meeting was skipped. We deployed to the floor without assignments and were at the mercy of the first manager who saw us. To keep with the fire service metaphor, it appeared that the lieutenants were freelancing.
Confusion reigned while we attempted to deploy stock to the floor for the oncoming rush. As midnight approached, bands of roving customers began to attack each pallet as it reached the floor, tearing open the cardboard to see what was inside before we could set them down.
Eventually I defected to my known assignment, staffing a line. It went fine and was in fact boring, at least until the sales began at 0500.
Our line was expected to be one of the busiest and fastest moving in the store. Each waiting customer had a ticket, and we knew how much product we had available for them. Mostly. There was a small question with the counts, but we had things in hand. My ‘lieutenant’ had spoken to the customers, drawing a line between those who WOULD get what they came for and those who MIGHT get one. Everyone was happy.
Then the retail equivalent of a Deputy Chief showed up.
CHAOS is an acronym for Chief Has Arrived On Scene, and it was never truer. Our ‘deputy chief’ promised everyone the moon. Then we couldn’t deliver. In a matter of minutes we went from a line full of happy customers to a small group of angry ones.
We deployed the RIT team, and the Chief saved the day. He authorized us to sell a much higher priced item at our sale price to make our angry customers happy. They were distrustfull, but they eventually left with more than they expected.
The plan worked, I guess. No one stampeded, and everyone went home happy. They need to work on the early deployment steps for next year, though. And confine the deputy chief to the command post.