Is high retail employee turnover something you struggle with?
You aren’t alone.
According to a 2017 study, retail has one of the highest turnover rates in any industry: 67%.
Last week, our partner the Running Industry Association’s list serve was ablaze with questions about employee retail employee retention, compensation, training, and more.
So we took some of those questions to Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor, a New York based retail consultancy that advises retailers on how to speak to, train, and motivate sales teams to increase retail sales.
Check out what he has to say about some of your biggest retail employee struggles and questions.
Retailer: In today’s work world of >3% unemployment, what are some successful ways to recruit and retain employees?
Retail Doctor: You should have a recruitment page all the time on your website, you should have videos of what it is like working for you, first day for employees, etc. Most retailers forget they have two customers – internal and external. Both are a priority.
Retailer: How can I keep my employees motivated all day long and encourage them to keep busy during inevitable slow periods?
Retail Doctor: You cannot motivate another human being unless they want to be motivated. I can hold up a carrot as a prize, but if you don’t like carrots, it won’t get them to do anything. It is not your job as retailer to motivate your crew, it is your job to come up with an excellent place to work where they are constantly learning and using their information. Get them involved in social media, get them to go out into the parks and have people try on shoes. But most of all, give them retail sales training. Quite simply you can have more business than you realize but your untrained employees say “it is so slow” because they think people will just come in and ask for a 9D in a cool new shoe. They have to upgrade their skills to take that casual looker and build enough rapport they become a trusted advisor. I have found many running stores tell themselves how great they are and their employees because they know so much about the product. And they do. But the winners in retail will be those who can connect, really connect to a stranger who they know nothing about. Anyone can give great customer service to loyal customers, but they are moving and dying. Unless running stores get up to speed and quit being such snobs about who their customers are and how they sell, I think they’ll continue to struggle. Why is it your store may be able to sell 1 pair to a new runner, but they get the second and third online – because your experience isn’t worth trekking back to.
Retailer: How can I motivate my employees to work independently?
Retail Doctor: Millennials don’t tend to work independently, they date as groups, they go to lunch as groups so why not find ways for them to do things in teams? Millennials especially don’t like mindless work they don’t know why they are doing it. They are incredibly smart and hopeful and when they feel their lives slipping through their hands they disengage. That’s what you’re seeing. “Move those over there” just isn’t much of a reason to want to work for you. Again, much of this goes back to hiring. If you hire poorly or pay miserably you get it back in spades. Unless you can make their day, they certainly won’t make the shoppers.
Retailer: What is the minimum time you think an employee needs to work each week to stay up to speed on what’s going on in the store?
Retail Doctor: 30 hours. Many retailers cobble together a part time workforce of 2 shifts here and 3 shifts there. That is impossible to create a sprit décor. You are #5 or #7 in their list of priorities and their lazy bad habits are not worth the flexibility you are offering them.
Retailer: Do you have any advice on how to deal with an employee who was hired to work 20-30 hours per week and after 1 month only wants to work 10-15 hours per week?
Retail Doctor: Yes, fire them. You explain at the interview you are hiring for 25 hours per week, if you can’t work that, you shouldn’t take the job.
Retailer: How should I determine fair compensation for my employees?
Retail Doctor: Find out what the majors are paying at Dick’s and the like. Then pay more. So many business owners b*tch about rising minimum wages and they resent paying it. Yet they often will give more than that back every sale with discounts and see no problem. Hire the best, give them retail sales training like my SalesRX.com that several shoe stores are meeting with success, constantly be connecting the dots between what was taught with roleplays on the sales floor over and over until they can’t do it wrong. Embrace what true athletes live by, “training isn’t something you did, training is something you do.” Training never stops.