Friday, June 08, 2007

Quit Complaining

While standing in line to pay for a purchase at a local store today, I overheard the sales associate complain about the temperature in the store to a customer. She was lamenting the fact that the air conditioning did not seem to be working although a few days earlier it had been.

In a newspaper article this past week, a retail employee complained about the type of customers he had to deal with and suggested that people be more understanding of a retailer's problems such as inventory issues and being short-staffed.

Several months ago I listened to two employees complain about their schedule directly in front of me.

Give it a rest already!!

As a consumer, I don't care about your problems or issues; I have enough of my own to deal with. And quite frankly, this type of behaviour only fuels my desire to shop at one of your competitors.

I suggest that you--the retail owner or employee--recognize the negative impact conversations like this have on your business. Unfortunately, in my career as a retail consultant and trainer, I have discovered that many owners and managers are the root cause of this type of employee behaviour. are a few ideas to consider...

1. Teach your team to maintain a positive demeanor at all times. This is easier said than done but it can have a tremendous impact. Have them visit other stores in your local trading area and observe the staff in those stores. Get them to share their observations and brainstorm ideas how they can avoid leaving a negative impression with your customers.

2. Hire the right staff. Let's face it...hiring great retail staff is challenging at the best of times. However, too many retail managers and owners hire a warm body simply to fill a time slot on a schedule. Unfortunately, this means that they often end up with the wrong person. Hire for attitude and personality rather than job experience and many of your problems will disappear.

3. Lead by example. This is, by far, the most essential ingredient. If you fail to maintain a positive behaviour, your staff certainly won't either. I can venture into almost any type of retail store and tell you--within 5 minutes--what the management team is like simply by watching how the staff behave. Remember, your actions speak louder than words.

I know that running a retail operation is no easy task. I also know that a multitude of problems can crop up at any given moment. However, complaining in front or, or to, your customers, serves no purpose.


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