Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Retail Sales Training - You Set The Tone

As an owner or manager, it is critical to remember that you set the tone for your store. Whether you are a franchisee, corporate store manager, or own an independent store, what you do and say reflects on your business. Let me elaborate...

From merchandising, to service, to employee behaviour, YOU influence it all. I can walk into almost type of retail store and within 5 minutes accurately guess what kind of person runs that particular store. Here are two examples:

1. A local store nearby specializes in imported food. All the employees greet customers with a smile and they are exceptionally friendly. Plus, they deliver great service, day after day. Turnover is low--I recognize staff that have been there for 10 years or more--something that is virtually unheard of in retail today. Business is brisk--every day! I can almost guarantee that the management of that store focus on their staff and treat them well.

2. Another store sells pet products. The staff at this store seldom smile or take a proactive approach to help customers. It's not uncommon to hear the cashiers complain to each other about the schedule, hours, etc. No one goes out their way to create a memorable experience. It's not difficul to figure out that this is not the greatest place to work. And in all likelihood, it's because of the manager. I can this because I once spoke to the manager and he was short and abrupt during our conversation.

Too many retailers blame the economy, competition, head office, and sometimes customers, for the lack of business or a decline in sales. However, it is critical to look within and at yourself first.

- Are you treating your staff with dignity and respect? Or, do you demand respect?
- Do you talk to your team? Or do you "tell" them what you want them to do?
- Do you keep your people informed and updated? Or, do you tell them what you "think" they need to know?
- Is your store a fun place to work? Or, is it a place where people show up because they have bills to pay?
- Do you have high standards and expect your team to perform to the best of their ability? Or, do you accept the bare minimum because that's all you think people will deliver?

I once wrote about the daughter of a friend who started working for a independently-owned clothing store. During her first week, the owner loudly criticized my friend's daughter--in front of customers. Needless to say, she quickly found another place to work. I suspect that store owner has a revolving door of staff and that she struggles with her business.

Ultimately, your mentality and approach sets the tone for your success. Are you going to succeed?

As always, I welcome your thought and comments.


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