Your Pop Up's Staffing Needs - dummies

Your Pop Up’s Staffing Needs

By Dan Thompson

Before working out exactly what staff you need for your pop up business, you have to figure out when you need them and what they do. People can agree to work with you more easily if their roles are clearly defined. In addition, when they know what they’re supposed to be doing, people will deliver far more!

In terms of staff, consider your:

  • Management team: Helps you make the planning decisions as you develop the project.

  • Marketing and communications team: Works with both traditional and new media to ensure that your customers find your pop up.

  • Design team: Makes decisions about branding alongside your marketing and communications team, as well as the layout and interior of your pop up alongside your maintenance team.

  • Maintenance team: Handles practical jobs, such as decorating, fitting out and moving furniture.

  • Front-of-house team: Staffs the shop when it’s open.

In smaller pop ups, you’ll probably find that a lot of those ‘teams’ are actually the same people. With your timetable, you can see the areas for which you may need to round up extra people.

The heaviest staffing will be immediately before and after your opening, but you’ll need plenty of staff while you’re open. Draw up a rota for the number of days you’re open and break each day down into morning, lunch and afternoon shifts. Block in any special events, such as a launch party or evening opening.

Look at shops near yours; do they have any early closing days? If so, you can close at these times, so mark out those sessions. You now have a clear idea of the time commitment while you’re open.

Partner with other crafters and businesses

The biggest problem for many pop ups is staffing; they’re time consuming, both in the planning, fitting out and while you’re open. Depending on what you plan to do, you may be able to share the time among a group of people.

For example, many crafters are using pop ups to sell their handmade products and share the opening times between all the makers involved.

Other pop ups provide more than one thing – a shop with a cafe, say. As a result, a number of people or even businesses can share the staffing responsibilities. If staffing is likely to be a problem (and being open 9 to 5 every day is a long time), think carefully about whom you can share your pop up with.

Hire staff for your pop up

As well as finding partners, taking staff on for the period your pop up is open may well be worthwhile. Take on temporary staff who can do things better than you. For example, if customer service and direct sales aren’t your strongpoint but are part of your pop up, take on staff who can handle this area.

Employing temporary staff means that both you and your staff have rights and responsibilities. UK employment law makes no difference between temporary and permanent staff, but various employment rights are based on workers being employed for a period of continuous service. Of course, a pop up may not fulfil this time-based requirement.

In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) looks closely at companies that rely heavily on temporary staff. Companies may be required to pay tax on temporary workers if the IRS believes classifications are suspect.

As a pop up, you can use a fixed-term contract. This contract is between the employee and the business they work for; it is not used to employ staff through an agency. The contract must end on a particular date, which will probably be the closure of the pop up. A person on a fixed term contract has the same pay and benefits as a member of full-time staff.

Alternatively, you can use freelancers. A freelancer is self-employed and, therefore, responsible for her own tax and national insurance contributions. You must be careful, as you can’t use freelancers just to avoid legal responsibilities.

You can check up on current legislation on employers’ tax obligations with regard to freelancers on the HM Revenue and Customs website.

For businesses in the United States, check out the IRS website and click on Business and then Employment Taxes.

Knowing the difference between employed and self-employed staff is important.

In the UK, staff are:

  • Employed: They work for you and don’t have the risks of running a business.

  • Self-employed: They’re in business on their own account and are responsible for the success or failure of that business.

In the US, the IRS determines staff status as employed or self-employed by carrying out three tests:

  • Behavioural: Who controls what the worker does and how she does it?

  • Financial: Are business aspects of the job, such as expenses, tools and suppliers, controlled by the payer?

  • Relationship: Are there employee benefits and a long-term relationship?