If you’re like most retailers, you’re always looking for ways to improve employee satisfaction and keep them motivated. After all, a satisfied employee is more likely to provide better customer service. Frankly, only feeling great satisfaction in their own work will make them want to give great satisfaction to your customers.
You’ve heard me say it time and time again: you don’t build your business, you build your frontline associates and they build your business. So what can you do to create a retail store employees will love? Here are five tips to get you started.
1) Create a positive and upbeat store environment
When it comes to the store environment, it’s important to get it right. You want your associates to feel comfortable and happy, to be in a safe and supportive place where they can be themselves. But it also means they understand the safeguards of working in retail.
One way to create the right environment is to be positive and optimistic. No one wants to work with a Gloomy Gus or a Greta – especially one with the power to fire them. Show your associates that you’re happy to be there and working with them. Smile, say hello and be positive throughout the day.
C-level executives often seem to forget that the most important part of a store visit is giving time to those who can give the best culture feedback: the sales associates. Take the time and talk with them – not to them.
Another way to create a fun work environment is to have fun. Playing music before the opening is a staff choice, holding regular team meetings and making everyone laugh and have fun are all key factors. Rankings for online training are becoming popular for good reason.
Creating more than a functional work environment is essential to having a successful store, so focus on keeping things positive, not “being realistic” or worried. Teach that your whole day can change with the person who walks through that door. After all, that’s also how your customers feel when they meet someone with the right attitude.
2) Encourage employees to be creative
I know it can be hard to come up with new and creative ideas on training or merchandising (or almost anything sometimes!), but I have a little tip that always helps inspire me. I encourage store associates to come up with their own ideas. Once I asked, “What can we do that will really get people talking?” Once you rule out discounts and breaking laws, some of the best ideas I got were about sponsoring a charity or holding a different event for a specific type of customer. This exercise can be very rewarding. And it’s a great way to show your associates, and then your customers, that you care.
When associates feel like they’re part of something, they’re more likely to want to contribute to its success.
3) Show your appreciation for hard work
Rewarding store associates can be tricky. On the one hand, you want to show your appreciation for their hard work with bonuses, promotions, or other rewards. But on the other hand, you don’t want to create a situation where your employees feel like they’re being bought off. So how do you find the right balance? Here are three tips.
- Make sure the rewards are meaningful
If you’re going to give your employees a bonus, make sure it’s a good bonus – something that will make them really happy. I can hold a carrot in front of someone, but if they hate carrots, they won’t go out of their way to get one.
If you only give rewards sporadically, your employees will start to feel that they are not appreciated. Try to be as consistent as possible about when and how you reward your employees. But don’t keep doing the same thing over and over – mix it up, just let the ideas come.
- Avoid creating a “tick for tat” mentality
It’s important that your employees feel like they’re rewarded because they deserve it, not because they played politics or aspired to leadership. Avoid creating a “tick-for-tick” mentality in which employees feel like they have to do something to earn a reward, such as cleaning the back room and getting the night off. They should clean the back room because it needs to be done. Give them the night off for exceeding their weekly goal.
4) Improve the back office
Most retail workers are on their feet all day, and it can be really hard to keep going when you don’t have a place to rest your feet. That’s why it’s so important for retail managers to provide comfortable seating for breaks and lunches. I can’t tell you how many back rooms I’ve seen with nothing. You can’t always just go to the mall, in your car, or take a walk to relax.
This place can be anything from a few chairs in a quiet corner to a full-fledged rest room. The key is to ensure associates have a place to relax and recharge so they can continue to best serve their customers.
5) Provide training and development opportunities to help staff grow professionally
When it comes to providing customer service, it’s important that employees are on the same page. That’s why your retail management strategy should include ongoing retail employee training and development, not just an onboarding focus. This is especially important for seasoned pros who may have gotten into a rut.
Ongoing training can help employees keep up to date with the latest products, services, and sales techniques. It can also help them build better relationships with customers. Just one new thing you remind them of can mean the difference between a low-margin sale and a high-margin sale.
In addition to providing training, managers must also be available to answer questions and offer support. Unpacking what went right and what went wrong can be one of the best lessons you can learn. This can help employees feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it. And by providing support, managers can help ensure customers receive the best possible customer service.
There are many ways to make working in a store more varied and interesting. By following these tips, managers can help their employees succeed both professionally and personally while providing support for ongoing promotions. Building your bench starts with providing opportunities for growth through training that goes beyond what’s on sale or product functionality.
Retailers should show their appreciation by encouraging those who do the hard work to interact with the public every day. This action and its cascading effect will create a store environment where sales are at their highest because everyone – from associates to customers – feels appreciated in some specific way, shape or form. .
Bob Phibbs, ‘The Retail Doctor’, is a 30+ year retail expert with a proven track record of helping brands increase sales, turn their retail staff into real salespeople, and get the most out of leveraged their store traffic through innovative retail marketing tactics. Contact him at 562-260-2266, or visit his website.