For years, you've heard us talk about building rapport as a critical first step in developing successful, long term customer relationships.  To accomplish this, we've taught our clients to be 'likeable'.  Why?  Because people prefer to buy from someone they like.  It's as simple as that.

Let’s face it … it’s not that hard to be likeable. You just have to put a bit of effort into it.  Challenge yourself to come up with a list of 10 things you could do to make yourself more likeable and you’ll discover you come up with 10 fairly easily.

There’s no doubt that the growing popularity of e-learning has made it easier for retailers to deliver consistent, cost-effective training to the masses.  More and more, retailers are reaching frontline staff by way of video modules hosted on their own Learning Management Systems, interactive modules and even apps designed to keep staff informed, engaged and motivated out on the sales floor.  All positive steps for retailers, but it does beg the question, “Have you lost the human touch when it comes to training your frontline teams?”

I have to be honest; I don’t like looking inside myself.  Being introspective can be a very scary thing. It’s much easier to play the blame game; blame my team, blame my boss, my co-workers, other departments.  There’s no shortage of people or things to blame if you really want to.

But, this is the thing; when we blame we lose power.  We become victims. Where do you go from there?  I’d rather place myself in a position of control rather than being a victim.  

A few weeks ago I was speaking to a group about leadership; one of my favourite subjects!  One of the characteristics of effective Leadership we focused on was Enthusiasm. I'm not talking about running into the office or your stores and high-fiving everyone, every day. I'm talking about the type of enthusiasm that inspires people to want to achieve their goals.

At this conference I had the opportunity to speak to front-line leaders as well as the store operations team from Head Office. I truly enjoyed working with these teams; however, I'd like to share one of my observations with you.

Get Your Head Out Of The Sand!

The sky isn’t falling on brick and mortar retailers (even though the media would like you to think so).  But, the horizon is far from certain for many.  We’ve seen thousands of stores close (yes, just as many new ones are opening … but hey, thousands still closed!).  Online continues to grow and eat away at traditional retailers’ shares of the pie. For grocery it’s only 2%, but for fashion it’s as much as 20%. 

The world as we know it for brick and mortar retailers has forever changed.  The question is, “how many will change with it … and change fast enough to survive?”

Linda Montalbano (VP, Graff Retail, and key speaker on our #WebinarWednesday events) said something in one of her recent #WebinarWednesday talks that really stuck with me.  I have spent about 30 years in retail; close to 20 of those years with Linda, so you can see that she continues to inspire even after all these years!  Her statement was so simple, so honest, and yet I’ve never heard it before.  This is what she said…are you ready for it?  “Approaching a stranger is one of the most difficult things to do, and yet, we expect our staff to do that each and every day out on the retail floor; typically, with little to no training.”  Never talk to strangers…oh, except in retail, we want you to do that each and every day!  Let that settle in and really think about it.  If it resonates with you the way it did with me, this simple, honest statement is about to change the way you approach training and development with your frontline teams. 

Our parents all told us from a really young age to never talk to strangers. 

Today I saw this quote, ‘If SERVING is Below You, Then LEADERSHIP Is Beyond you’.  I have a lot of favourite quotes, but this one makes my top 10 list. When I reflect back to all the great leaders I’ve had the opportunity to work with, they all had one thing in common; their understanding that leading is a privilege, not a right.  

It still shocks me how many leaders today feel they’ve more than just earned their positions.  In fact, they believe they deserve their positions.  They believe their teams work for them.  They represent (and seem to love) the old pyramid style of leadership structure.  Someone forgot to tell them times have changed.

Across most of this country (Canada, that is) and many parts of the world, minimum wage rates are going up drastically; in many places by as much as 30%.  That’s a big chunk out of anyone’s bottom line.

For retailers, it’s about finding a way to maintain profitability and at the same time maintain the brand experience.  That’s not an easy task when one of your biggest expenses goes up … a lot!

As we prepare for our upcoming 2-Day Retail Leadership workshop, I cannot help but think about the question that I am continually asked in regards to getting an entire store or region to do exactly what they are supposed to be doing with commitment and passion.  I'm committed to helping people succeed and feel good about what they do in this industry and I truly believe that there are several things that are critical to inspirational leadership.

Attention all Store Managers! 

It's time for some "Spring Training" in your stores! 

Everyone knows how satisfying it is to do spring cleaning around the house; the same can be true about spring training for retailers!  The winter blahs are almost over and it's time to get the cobwebs out and get back to the basics.


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