Richard Branson once said, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” We couldn’t agree more. This has nothing to do with whether the customer is right or not; this has everything to do with how supported, valued and led your employees feel at your place of work. And honestly, this spans across all industries. But since we are the retail experts, we will dive into our comfort zone a little.
First off, nearly every aspect of the customer experience in a brick-and-mortar establishment can be controlled by the employees. Whether it is the quality of the displays, the positioning of the materials or the simple welcome they get when they walk in, an employee has their hand in making the experience special. Next, it is your team that connects, engages, learns, supports, guides and ultimately sells the customer on the experience or products you are providing. A big task for a minimum wage millennial, wouldn’t you agree?
So the question is, how are you as a manager inspiring your team to care enough about the company or their job to perform their tasks at the highest level of excellence to ensure your customers are not just happy, but loyal? Well, lucky for you, we have some pointers.
Skills You Need as a Manager
How are you being fed professionally? Are you reading books? Going to workshops or trade shows? Do you have a peer-to-peer network? If you are not focusing formally on your professional development and just “learning on the job,” than you are destined to either fail or take a very, very long time to get to where you want to be.
A great manager develops their skills by years of study and practice, NOT just years of practice. Think about a surgeon who never went to medical school but just started performing surgeries on people. He may learn a thing or two along the way, but wouldn’t the whole experience been a lot smoother (and a lot safer) if he had just read through some of the best practices BEFORE going into surgery? Well guess what, the same applies to your abilities as a retail manager (or any career for that matter). We have developed a few crucial areas in each of our training programs that emphasize the following:
- Communication & Clarity – How are you communicating, what are you communicating and does your team understand the message? You would be surprised how often something is just lost in translation. We make sure all communication is structured in a very specific way to avoid those pitfalls.
- Rewards & Praise – Praise is important. People like an “at a boy” every now and then. Even small amounts of reinforcement can go a long way, but first you must understand your audience. What makes them tick? Salespeople like to get rewards for making sales, and often those rewards are clouded by uncertainty around a compensation plan that is neither effective nor inspiring from a monetary standpoint.
- Accountability – You would be surprised how frequently a little accountability can change the entire direction of a company. Yet so many people have a hard time with what is perceived as a difficult conversation. We have made this so simple, so logical and so powerful that anyone can do it. And guess what, both you and the person you are holding accountable will FEEL GOOD about it. Crazy, right?
- Coaching– Such a buzz word. Most people have absolutely no concept of what coaching is. Coaching is an art that requires practice. What we provide are the tools and how you can use them to help deliver effective coaching and support your company in creating an environment where coaching is welcomed.
What You Can do for Your Employees
- Ongoing Training – It’s not just training for two hours and then telling them to have fun. TRAINING IS ONGOING! Look at professional athletes: They train and practice every single day of the season to prepare for just a few games. So when you go to work, every day should be game day. How are you practicing to ensure that you are performing the best during your game? That is what training is all about. Put time aside, make it interesting and make it relevant.
- Coaching– You can’t just give your team instructions and then expect them to perform flawlessly. You’ve got to track their performance and help them reach their goals by targeting their selling behaviors. And to do that effectively, you need to get out on the sales floor to watch them assisting customers and to offer prompt feedback—both positive and corrective. Your sales team needs to know what behavioral changes are going to make the biggest positive impact on their productivity.
- Goal Setting and Tracking – If you train your team and you provide coaching and development, the logical next step is to track their sales performance. The metrics you decide to track and how you track them is unique to your business, but we can tell you that deep down inside, everyone wants to know how they are doing. They want their grade, their gold star, or their score to know whether they are on the right track. It has been engrained in us since we were kids!
Training Your Employees
We brushed over this topic kind of fast but it is not as simple as getting people together in a room and watching a TED talk or a Nick Saban video on motivation and teamwork (which we love by the way). Employee training needs to be thoughtful, intentional and structured. After the training is done, there must be a clear outcome with deliverables. We have a powerful saying that comes up often when working with our clients. You may have heard it before…
Business Owner: “What if I spend all this time, money and energy training my employees only for them to leave in a couple months for another opportunity?”
The Friedman Group: “That might happen, but what if you don’t train them and they stay?”
Let us give you a little insight. You invest in your people and they will invest in you. That investment can be done in a variety of ways, but we believe that properly training, coaching and leading your team is an excellent and necessary start. Do not waste any more time with “On the Job” training. Put something formal in place and stick to it. Everything else is a massive waste of time and honestly, your customers will NOT wait. A poor experience can last a lifetime, and you will NEVER have enough customers coming through the door to accept a poor experience, EVER.
The Friedman Group are recognized experts in retail sales and management training. We develop original processes by combining our proprietary techniques with best practices from companies all over the world. Our materials are delivered through the most current channels including eLearning platforms, our own Learning Management System and our classic public and private in-person training and consulting sessions.
We can bring out the best in your employees. Contact us today and let’s bump your skills up a notch.
Development Director, The Friedman Group
The Friedman Group is a retail consulting and sales training company focused on improving retailers through high-quality courses. Its proven track record includes over 5 million retailers trained, more than 150,000 companies represented, and 15% to 50% sales increases in its more than 35 years in the business.
The company, led by Founder and CEO Harry J. Friedman, has worked with the biggest brands in retail like Cartier, Neiman Marcus, Nike, Diane von Furstenberg, Samsonite, and more.