Some of the biggest companies in the world are redefining what it means to work. Richard Branson’s Virgin has introduced unlimited vacation days.
Google has free lunch and dinner while Trupanion, a pet insurance company, fittingly has two pet playrooms in its HQ with five in-house dog walkers and vet technicians on staff.
Of course it might seem like marketing 101 but it’s very easy for big companies to offer all kinds of great benefits and perks, while retail stores can be left behind.
The average employee turnover rate for all industries in the U.S. is about 15 percent, while it’s over 60 percent for retail, according to the National Retail Federation.
It can leave any retail store owner scratching their head and wondering why they should spend their hard-earned dollars on employees who are only going to up and leave in a year – or even in a couple of months.
It’s simple: happy staff are more productive. It’s marketing 101.
A study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happy staff were 12 percent more productive. Plus, replacing your staff can be expensive. And to top it all off, unhappy staff could hit you in the pocket – they won’t be as efficient as happy workers, which could lead to lost sales for your store.
Why happy staff are better staff – and why they are better for your business
Happier employees work harder and often perform better – which in turn means that your store will do better too.
Most people don’t get up in the morning and think, “can’t wait to get to work!” – but making their working life as positive as possible can definitely help. You don’t want staff members who are dragging their feet, are rude to customers, or who are missing out on making sales.
Ultimately, your staff and their knowledge of your products are the big difference between your store and online retailers. Most big-box retailers won’t know your industry as well as you do – and that’s something you’ll want to pass onto your staff. Sure it’s obvious and marketing 101 but it works.
Employees who are happier are more engaged and will be more likely to learn and succeed. They’ll be driven to do their best work and to get to know your products and industry better – which is great for your store and your customer service standards.
Another stat for you: HRB found that happier salespeople raise sales by 37 percent – so there’s that.
Marketing 101: How to keep your staff happy
Sure, the perks mentioned at the top of this article would go a long way to creating happier staff – who wouldn’t love a pet playroom at the back of their store? – but they’re not realistic for most independent stores.
Instead, get to know your staff on a personal level. You won’t (or can’t) be best friends with all of them, but if they see you as a person beyond the boss, they’ll be more likely to want to do good work for you.
It’s not all about money either: giving feedback and praising staff who are performing well can go a long way to increasing employee happiness. If you happen to make a mistake, own up to it too – that way your staff can learn from your example.
Don’t micromanage your staff either. Give them the freedom to do their jobs. Encourage employees with praise where relevant and consider introducing a bonus scheme for staff who are doing particularly well.
Trust your employees; give them the space to make mistakes and to grow. Sometimes even a simple “thank you” can help to make your staff feel appreciated.
While happier staff will lead to increased productivity, training and development will make all the difference. You can spend all the money in the world on marketing your store – but if customers arrive and are treated poorly or have a bad experience, you’ll have lost them forever.
With this in mind, let’s look at how you can better train your retail staff to drive more sales to your store.
Marketing 101: How to get the most out of your retail staff with better training
If you’re running a small business, chances are that you’re the manager and the HR person. You’ve got enough to do already without worrying about your staff’s development – but it’s actually really important to the growth of your business.
You may not have the resources for expensive training and development courses, but there are several things you can do to get the most out of your staff.
1. Hire for the right attitude and train them up on skills they can pick up
You can’t train someone to be nice – but you can give them better sales techniques or teach them how to deal with customers.
When you’re hiring, look out for positivity and people who seem curious and willing to learn. A group interview might be a good option if you’re hiring staff to work on the floor. You can see how they interact with others – are they friendly and approachable or do they sink into background of the group?
Ask them to act out how they’d sell a product to a customer or how they’d deal with a customer who is there to cause trouble. You’ll quickly get an idea as to who they are and how they work.
Likewise, keep an eye on how your staff perform in their day-to-day jobs and listen out for any interests they have. For example, if one of your staff is interested in writing, photography or social media, you could ask them to help with your store’s marketing or social media.
2. Remember that every person is different
What works for one employee might not work for another. Being praised in front of all the staff might be great for one person, while another might far prefer a quiet word in the breakroom.
Likewise, everyone learns differently. Some staff might benefit from a classroom environment where they’re given a lecture on a topic, while others would be much better at getting their hands dirty on the floor.
While training in some areas will need to be rigid – for example how to use your cash register or ePOS – other areas have potential for them to experiment and learn. A tactic that works for one salesperson or floor staff might be great for one person but a disaster for another.
Always be willing to listen and to understand why your staff are doing something a certain way, even if it’s not necessarily having a positive outcome.
Your staff want to feel as if they’re fulfilling their potential and training and development is a huge part of that. You don’t need to spend tons of money on expensive corporate training, but you do need some kind of plan in place for employee growth.
Simple tactics could include introducing a buddy system where new employees are paired with a more experienced staff member to show them the ropes.
3. Don’t forget your own training and development – it’s the key of marketing 101
You may be new to running a store or you may have grown up in the backroom of the shop when it belonged to your grandparents.
Even if the business has been in your family for decades, there’s always more you could know. Technology has completely transformed retail with almost every part of traditional retail being replaced by shinier new technology. 15 years ago, it was enough to pay for ads in local papers and cash registers had one function only.
Now, digital advertising is a big part of every stores’ marketing while ePOS (electronic point of sale) systems can integrate with apps that get your products online, manage your rota, and much more.
The way people shop is changing.
Many people now take to their phones or laptops to research products or to make a sale and the reality is that retailers need to find a way to keep up. As much as it’s important for your staff to be well trained, you (or your managers) need to be on the pulse of innovations that might help you run your store more efficiently.
While many people are researching products online, they’re still making sales in-store – and you and your staff will be key to making that sale. Consumers come to your store for the convenience but also for your knowledge.
It’s that same knowledge that will help your staff become better, more efficient workers – which, in turn, will keep your store alive and well against e-commerce businesses and big-box retailers.