Knowledgeable retail staff and management is essential to brand success. A Consumer Insights Panel survey reported 75% of customers as opting to leave a store upon detection of insufficiently trained employees. That is three-quarters of business out the door due to one investment: employee management.
Proper employee training and education help retain business, makes transactions more efficient and creates an optimal atmosphere for shoppers.
Managing employees is a job fit for a league of its own, and it is the first line of allies you can employ at your shop. Hire exceptionally qualified retail managers and invest in them, first. This is your front line at the in-store consumer experience. Your management team will be the enforcers of all directives you employ, and ultimately, they are the ones to keep store employees in line and performing above par.
Retail management skills are vast, and they are not easy to come by. We know from experience that many skills are taken for granted. Here are some of the most important traits in well-round, versatile managers:
- Customer service
Customer service goes beyond action and into understanding. A good manager understands the full picture that the shopper is consuming. Any one element can lead to misrepresentation of the brand.
Retail is mostly about fostering a favorable shopping experience. Clothes and products are fantastic, yes. But if we do not feel good buying them, we likely will not feel good wearing or using them.
Providing a sincere approach to the consumer experience should be second nature to every manager and top of main upon every store entrance.
Leadership is far too often overlooked in every industry. It is especially important in retail. A good leader knows how to embed a brand in her followers and how to induce genuine enthusiasm amongst his employees.
Managers head teams of mixed experience levels. Some employees are in their first job; others are completely overqualified. A good leader finds a personal approach to every individual and a comprehensive approach for the group at large.
Good managers take note of strengths and weaknesses and employ them, accordingly. Some employees need more attention and direction that others. A good store manager knows this, notes it, and creates plans based on individual needs.
Strong leaders are as patient as they are strict. They are fair, all-seeing and have instinctive hunches for best approaches.
- Sales experience
A strong manager can come from any background. In fact, it is usually prospective employees with the most versatile resumes that strike employers as the best candidates.
However, the ultimate job of the store is to sell, so some sales experience helps. The manager does not necessary need to have retail sales experience, but some background in a selling field is beneficial.
You might notice that candidates without selling experience can still be excellent salespersons. These are the ones that sell you on hiring them without the relevant work experience. Cha-ching!
- Sales leadership
This skill is a little trickier to adopt without relevant experience. A sales leader knows how to motivate her team by providing motivation and her own sky-rocketing numbers as verification of possibility.
Sales leaders must be able to train employees on sales and come up with plans that will reliably increase employ sales numbers.
And it isn’t all about numbers and strategy. A good manager will keep spirits high and sandwich every tough conversation with motivational sentiments. Employees of a strong manager will always leave a sales meeting itching to outperform her previous quotas and fellow employees.
Oh, boy, the resilience needed to manage a retail team. The environment is ever-changing and every day brings new difficulties. There are aspects of retail that require managers to think on their toes, and for many, this is an enticing feature of the job. But when this becomes a daily occurrence, her toes can get worn out. An active manager never burns out. She doesn’t just enjoy thinking on the fly; she has a strategy to it.
Customer service requires exceptional patience and an allegiance to the idea that the consumer is always right. Managers are usually last to be called into compliv situations with customers. When they are, the shopper is irritated and typically fuming from impatience. A good manager apologizes politely and smoothly recovers the brand’s reputation while re-securing the customer’s faith in the store. All situations are fully pacified, and business continues successfully.
An even better manager trains his employees to face these situations so bravely and gracefully that manager needn’t be called. An active manager like this also seizes opportunities to respond in real-time so that her employees can learn from her and better remember how to respond in similar situations.
Multi-tasking is a given in this position, and it requires a highly organized individual. There are a dozen priorities in any given day, up to a dozen employees to oversee and keep motivated and likely a dozen issues to resolve during any shift! Duties are scattered, to say the least.
An active manager stays organized to stay on top of priorities so as not to let any work slip between the cracks and to make it easy to hop back into tasks from which he is bound to get distracted.
Organization keeps the day flowing and going smoothly. It is so important!
Communication is essential. Communication is the backbone of every healthy employee-manager relationship. Excellent communication skills effectively confront negative feedback, softly motivate employees at every turn and create a stable, happy environment for shopper and workers alike.
Communication is invaluable. Be aware that all managers have different communication styles. What matters is that the communication style is a match with that of employees. A strong manager can have a unique style, but as long as she can explain it to employees, it will be successful in the team and work and environment.
A big issue that all managers face is scheduling. It applies to the workflow of both the manager and all the fellow employees. Here is the big industry question: scheduling software– use it or not?
Sometimes there is an objection to using employee shift scheduling software. Somebody always needs to change shifts, and you inevitably end up with a printed sheet cluttered with cross-outs. But staff scheduling software sets the schedule in stone and makes employees more accountable for designated shifts.
Employee schedule software establishes a new, organized outlook for each week. Although a good manager should be thorough-thinking enough to map out a reliable employee schedule effectively; the job gets busy, quickly. The software allows for premeditated notions to be factored into who is scheduled together and when.
The verdict on this question? A big YES. Employ schedule software, always.
Hiring excellent managers and using tools to map out strategic employee schedules are two boxes to check off in the building of your storefront. Now it’s time to consider the many more insights behind effective retail management.
More retail management tips:
- Set realistic goals and expectations. These help keep employees on track to success. If the goals are not too lofty, it’s more likely that the employee will accomplish the task at hand. Accomplishment is followed by a feeling of reward and a renewed motivation to keep doing a good job.
Setting individual goals can create a collective effort to tackle the core goal. Getting fifteen team members on board with specific intentions to solve a problem will address the problem much more quickly than leaving it up to one person.
Lastly, goals give purpose! Don’t let employees get bored; give them something to work toward.
- Practice instantaneous feedback. The moment you see an employee make a mistake or establish a good working habit, comment on it. Don’t wait for review periods to give feedback to employees. By then, the moment has passed and the window of opportunity to encourage good performance or halt mediocre performance has passed.
Commenting a situation like reorganizing too quickly after a customer leaves a shelving area immediately instill in the employee the memory of that mistake. Of course, wait until those customers are out of earshot or have left the store to bring up the remarks.
If you see an employee observe a patient in need of an opinion and offer an honest one, give him a thumbs up or some other sign of reassurance. This moment gets imprinted in his memory with a stamp of approval, solidifying its likelihood to be repeated in a similar, future circumstance.
- Set up weekly check-ins. Checking in weekly is essential! In busy schedules, reviews are always at the top of the list to get pushed from priority. But employees are the most valuable store asset. Their performance needs to be remembered as number one. Even if it as short as fifteen minutes per employee, make the time for it.
- Forecast and train monthly. Forecasting is one of, if not the most, invigorating tools at work. Hearing managers report on the month’s sales, congratulate respective employees and go on to forecast upcoming numbers heats up internal motivation. It makes every employee want to feel valuable next month and makes them see how feasible that feeling is. Numbers are always doable; it is the motivation behind the effort that is necessary.
No matter how busy life gets, make time to forecast. This refreshes goals and intentions of every employee, every month. It gets the team working hard individually so that collectively, the results are immense.
Be sure to incite only gentle competition amongst employees. Perhaps there is a prize or a sense of shifting pride but do your best to keep the group working together; never pitted against one another.
Remember that together, we accomplish all.
- Hold employees accountable. If employees are not responsible, they have no reason to fulfill requests and tasks.
This goes for bad behavior and for good. If goals are failed to be achieved, employees need to be reprimanded accordingly. Punishment is not necessary, but a deeper dive into the problem is. Remember that employee performance is a reflection of your management and direction. All elements of the situation must be considered.
Employees must be called out for good behavior, too. It reiterates your appreciation of their hard work and makes said behavior likely to be repeated.
- Ask for employee opinions. After all, they are the ones on the floor! If there is a problem to tackle- maybe a recurring scheduling snafu or consistent sales deficiency- ask your employees for their opinion on the matter.
Do they see a problem that you do not? Perhaps a solution that they have already discussed but felt hesitant to share with you? Often, managers get caught up in the bigger picture and overlook contributory details that amount to the biggest change. Employees come face to face with the details of work every day; remember to use them as a resource!
Asking for employee opinions offers a sense of validation, as well. You are all on the same team, just in different roles. Make sure everyone feels valuable. If you are setting up a Christmas display, ask for good presentation ideas. You do not have to use employee ideas, but creation (amongst other initiatives) should be collaborative.
- Train and give feedback in private. Embarrassing an employee is no way to induce positive, future performance. Be calm, collected and genuinely kind in your advice. If the issue you observed applies to more employees, ask this employee if it is okay for you to use the situation as an example to the entire group. When you do present the example, keep the employee you spoke with anonymous. Work to make a group lesson that is vague enough to apply to everyone, but specific enough to address the concern.
It is always a good idea to learn more about how to manage employees. Your tactics can always improve, and it makes you be a better employer to continue investing in your employees.
For insight, analysis, and digital tools like retail scheduling software (or online scheduling software), gets in touch with our team at AppointmentPlus. We lookforward to working with you!