When it comes to retail, store staff are a vital component to delivering new types of value by matching the customer problem with the solution and helping to promote the whole brand experience. The more engaged your staff are with their work, the more effectively they will represent your brand.
This week I would like to introduce you to Marguerite Bell. Marguerite leads our training and ‘Effective People’ programs and has extensive experience with coaching and leading retail and shopping centre teams to success. Marguerite will share her tips for engaging staff and building effective retail people.
‘Business fitness training’ for effective people
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Effective people at the coalface are those who are engaged with your retail business, share the same values and receive product training that makes them the expert in every respect. They also have trust in the management and systems that sit behind the shop floor.
As part of our Effective People program, we educate about the importance of communication throughout your retail operation and the need for it to be multi-directional (both bottom to top and top to bottom). The store staff are closest to the customers and provide valuable information relating to the everyday operation of the business as well as practical feedback on new initiatives prior to implementation. Ultimately, collaboration also facilitates more effective long-term outcomes for the business as store staff are aware and aligned to the overall business goals.
Investment in training your staff on the shop floor will give your team the right tools for the job. This includes not only the physical tools but the knowledge, experience, confidence and authority to do their job well. Every new team member on your shop floor should be taken through a proper induction program that introduces them not only to the selling skills and day-to-day running of the business, but also to the culture and history of the business so that your team are aligned to your brand from day one. As store staff become more immersed in the business, more extensive programs and refresher selling skills courses will help build on their existing skills.
A simple routine of daily start-up meetings, supplier training sessions, in-house training and coaching on product features and benefits will help to keep staff up to date with the business goals of the day as well as new products, campaigns and initiatives. It is also vital that the overall business goals are reinforced to the store staff so they understand the business mission and the part they are playing to achieve this.
Most importantly, never underestimate the influence of product knowledge to ensure your people are ready to provide those important customer solutions. Having excellent product knowledge helps instil a sense of self-confidence, which is essential to a successful salesperson’s repertoire. Let your sales staff experience the products themselves and test their knowledge frequently on every aspect so they understand not just the product, but also the all-important after-sales service that may be required.
Tips to engaging and retaining a team
According to author Leigh Branham, 88% of employees leave for reasons related to the job, the culture, the manager or the work environment and not just the money as is commonly believed. Retaining your best employees not only has positive financial implications for your business it will also ensure customer satisfaction; increased product sales; satisfied co-workers and reporting staff; effective succession planning as well as a deeply embedded organisational knowledge.
Employee retention is critical to the long-term health of your business and here are a few of Retail Doctor Group’s management rules of retention:
1. Celebrate Success. Tell your team what they’re doing right, not what they’re doing wrong. Reward your staff for high achievement with prizes for sales, average sale, items per sale and conversion rates.
2. Communicate. Make it clear that you have an ‘open door’ policy and welcome your team to come to you with any problems or concerns.
3. Lead by example. We see CEO’s like Bernie Brookes visiting stores and speaking to customers. How can you expect others to follow your rules, if you don’t follow them yourself?
4. Be positive. The positivity of your team will be felt by your customers and generate results!
5. Empower them. Staff who are given responsibility will step up to the mark. Keep them trained and informed to empower them to make decisions on the shop floor.
6. Promote continuous improvement. Staff training should be an ongoing process linked to individual and team KPIs and measured by sales results. This training should be continually measured by processes such as customer feedback and mystery shopping audits. Coaching your staff is the key to improvement. Help them to grow with your business and lift the cycle of continual improvement.
7. Have fun!
Thank you for having me this week on SmartCompany. Next week I will be presenting a free business seminar on this topic at the Fashion Exposed, Bags & Accessories & Australian Shoe Fair next week at the Sydney Exhibition Centre and I welcome you to join me. Registration is at the Fashion Exposed website.
Happy Fit Retailing,
Brian Walker and Marguerite Bell
Brian Walker is the managing director of Australasia’s leading retail consultancy, Retail Doctor Group.