Think about your worst shopping experience ever…
Chances are that a bad sales associate had something to do with it. From inattentiveness to overzealousness, we’ve all been on the receiving end of bad customer service and know how it can affect the way you feel about a store.
In the retail industry, salespeople are often the face of a brick and mortar location and can either make or break a sale.
Retaining and hiring for retail is key to creating a loyal customer base and driving in-store sales. But that can seem challenging in an industry with one of the highest employee turnover rates.
Retaining and Hiring for Retail: Creating a Winning Team
Jobvite found that 95% of recruiters expect the job market to remain or get more competitive. So, we talked to four retailers who are dominating the employee management game to get their best tips for training, retaining, and hiring for retail.
1. Finding the Right People > Filing a Role
“Hire for the things can’t teach because you can always train the rest,” says Amanda Johnson-Souza, Operations Manager at Sockshop & Shoe Company, RICS partner since 2013.
When hiring for retail, Sockshop & Shoe Co. prioritizes personality, passion, and team/culture fit, rather than previous retail experience.
Start by asking yourself what holistic experience you want your customers to have in store, and then hire accordingly. If you’re only hiring to replace former employees, the odds are you’re moving too fast and you’ll be looking to fill the position again in the not-too-distant future.
2. Ongoing & Paid Training Is Non-Negotiable
Put a premium on employee training and treat your employees as one of your biggest investments, which they are!
“We provide 80 to 120 hours of paid training, which includes training on RICS, for all Running Central staff,” says store owner Adam White.
By making staff training a top priority, White is able to ensure his employees are ingrained in the Running Central culture, fully up to speed on the job, and feel invested in their role and the company. Since partnering with RICS in 2016, employee retention has improved every year at Running Central.
3. Track Employee Performance
“I use [the Sales Analysis Report in RICS] to motivate and educate our people,” says Dan Ungar, owner of Mar-Lou Shoes, a RICS client since 1995.
By carefully tracking sales data, Ungar is able to reward star employees who are going above and beyond, while also identifying training opportunities for employees who seem to be struggling. By utilizing this tool in RICS, Ungar is able to take a more informed, hands-on approach that allows him to be a more attentive boss.
“We acknowledge their strengths and of course show them some of their weaknesses,” adds Ungar. “The Sales Analysis Report gives us the power to really dig deep into each salesperson’s performance.”
4. Create a Community Inclusive of Your Employees
As consumer demands shift, retailers have begun exploring new and different ways to offer an exceptional customer service experience. In-store events, services, and experiences work to create a loyal customer base and community.
RICS’ client Playmakers provides a variety of services and hosts regular events for their customers, which they invite their employees to participate in as well.
From running/walking groups to organized races, premier coaching, and events with their nonprofit – the Playmakers Fit Foundation, they’ve been able to create a dedicated following that includes their employees and makes them feel valued. Activating Playmakers staff as part of the greater community drives personal growth as well as that of the team because it helps foster internal and external relationships.
Engaging your employees also presents an opportunity for them to connect you with and refer new candidates for hire. Recruiters say that 78% of their best candidates come from referrals.
5. Retention Is All About The Benefits
Unsatisfactory compensation is one of the greatest factors in employee attrition. When most retail employees make less than $15/hour, offering great benefits can make all the difference in your retention rate.
From traditional benefits like health insurance or stock options, to perks like sales and referral bonuses, store discounts or opportunities for advancement, there are many things you can do to incentivize your employees to stay.
“We offer a lot of additional benefits for those who work inside the store, knowing we can make a bigger impact by offsetting day-to-day expenses than by putting a few extra taxed dollars in their pockets,” says Adam White. “As a result, sales commissions awarded to Running Central team members have tripled (up 212%) since 2016.”
Hiring, training, and retaining employees who have the same vision and work ethic as you is incredibly important to your bottom line. Investing in a winning team will help you sell more and spend less in the long run.
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Check out these additional resources for best practices around retail employee management.