A retail manager’s job is to maximise productivity, and often it’s only after years of vocational learning that these managers become truly effective. Unlike managers in some other industries, comparatively few retail managers have degrees in management. Nevertheless, they face a variety of challenges in a fast-paced, competitive environment. At the most basic level, every successful retailer must know how to display merchandise, schedule staff and take inventory. But those basic retail skills are only part of the picture when it comes to owning or managing a retail business.
A retail business’ staff often includes inexperienced, part-time, or seasonal employees. For them their hours are long and their sales targets may seem unreachable. Yet, in this setting, good retail managers thrive. Many successful retail managers possess an array of personal attributes that transform employees into top performers. By focussing on building the skills of your staff, you’re building the foundation of how your business interacts with its customers.
A retail business is only as good as its staff. To help you build your winning team, we’ve put together a list of our 4 top tips for managing, training, and ultimately, retaining your staff:
- Encourage your employees to aim high. Set performance goals and train your employees to reach them. Once these goals have been reached, and your staff rewarded, you’re free to set that rung even higher. However you judge performance, be it through sales, productivity, or efficiency, you must constantly inspire employees to do better. Needless to say, high goals need high motivation. Motivated workers can be the best workers, and coaching them ensures that they can generate creative solutions to any performance problems that they may have. Your coaching should have an emphasis on collaboration rather than confrontation, teaching the staff to look for solutions rather than focussing on the problems. Try asking each employee what they require from you in order for them to be able to more easily meet their goals, as you can encourage and motivate them through meeting these needs. Employees who can contribute ideas such as this will feel invested in the company’s success, so long as their ideas are well received and taken seriously. The best managers include their employees in decision-making by encouraging them to suggest ways to do things better.
- Work for tomorrow. You’ll only be in business tomorrow is if you sell your goods today! Daily sales goals are a good way to keep you and your team focussed on benefitting your retail store. Work out how much time needs to be devoted to keeping the sales coming in and make sure that your team are on board with these targets. And always be sure that you make time to praise your staff, because people who feel valued will be more likely to take on more responsibility, accept new training and ease the manager’s burden. Even if they’re on commission your employees still need to hear you say, “You did a great job, and I appreciate your hard work.”
- Delegate. If it’s your business, then the chances are that you want to mother it, micromanage every process and ultimately spread yourself too thin. This will just result in employees having minimal responsibilities and feeling demoralised and detached from the business. The courage to delegate doesn’t always come easily. Start by breaking down the core qualities of your employees and working out how best they can be utilised for the betterment of your business.
- Try this: First visualise the result that you want the employee to achieve. Then list the steps required to achieve that result and the skills requisite to each step. Then rate the employee’s skills in those areas on a scale of one to five, five meaning that the employee has all the requisite skills to accomplish the job. Does the employee have the necessary skills to get the job done, or is there a better candidate within the business? If an employee doesn’t seem to fit with a project that you have in mind then that doesn’t mean that they can’t be trained for it.
- Training. Retail is one of those industries that lends itself so well to practical training. Practical skills are those that a motivated salesperson can put to work right away, not concepts that lend themselves to subjective interpretation. Specific, relevant knowledge helps new employees to feel secure in their actions. When a customer has basic questions about a product or service and your employees are unable to provide solid, knowledgeable answers, the sale is on its way to being lost. Furthermore, the potential customer’s opinion of the retailer has just taken a negative hit.
However, even if your staff know all about your business and what you sell, all the knowledge in the world won’t help if your new salespeople lacks the skills to communicate that information effectively. Skills for effectively communicating information include such things as using a professional, not casual, tone of voice, clarity in expression (i.e. not using slang or jargon), correct use of eye contact, and remembering not to over-talk or interrupt.
By nailing these simple tips down, and applying them to your retail business, you’ll be well on your way to leaving a positive impression on your customers and leave them wanting to come back for more.