I was going through the newspapers the other day, reading what the press was saying about retail. It hit me then, for the first time ever, that Trump might actually be right about one thing: Fake News!!

Look, up here in Canada you’d have a better chance of finding a unicorn than finding someone who doesn’t think Trump is, well, not the greatest fit for the job. But his claim of Fake News, while likely mostly nonsense, rings true when it comes to how the media reports on retail.

In my role at Graff Retail, I speak to Store Managers on a daily basis.  At some point in the conversation we end up "talking shop" and managers share their biggest challenges with me (kind of like a retail therapy session!). 

I've learned over time that the challenges aren't unique from manager to manager and, since I am in charge of our award-winning online retail training system at Graff, I happen to have access to a ton of tried and true techniques to take a manager from struggling to ALL-STAR!

In short order, here are 8 things you need to do to ensure you're an All-Star this Christmas selling season.

I think we can all agree that Retail changes at the speed of light. I've been in this industry for 25 years and counting and it's still a wild ride. What's interesting about our space is that the people in Retail often match the pace of our environment.  Have you ever noticed that most Managers, District Managers, VP's and Presidents talk fast, and move even faster? Not to mention they're the best task masters. 

It's possible that the Management environment attracts a lot of Assertive/Passionate people.   Or, that our environment requires you to move at a fast pace, so we adapt. Either way, one of my consistent observations when I ask a Retail leader, "how are you?"  I inevitably get the same answer … "busy" or when they really want to make a point … "Crazy busy!".   You've probably said the same thing yourself on countless occasions. 

So why am I bringing this up?

I’ve ranted and raved for years about the lack of compliance on standards at store level.  Retail’s inability to have the stores meet basic store standards costs the business sales, margin, customer loyalty and more.  Doesn’t it seem to be simple enough to get the staff to greet customers, maintain merchandising standards, dress properly, show up on time and sell properly?  Well, apparently not!

For years we’ve preached about the 5 things you need to do to get compliance on standards: 

What does it take to roll out a great training program at store level?  Better yet, what does it take to sustain a great training program at store level?  Do you have the answer on the tip of your tongue?  Don’t fret, from what I can tell, the majority of retailers out there don’t have the answers to these questions either. 

Ok.  Here’s an easier question.  What gets in the way of training success at store level?  I bet you can rattle off a bunch of ‘retail realities’ that interfere with training.

Last week was Back to School and it seems like everyone was posting proud Instagram pics of their kids' first day of school. Truthfully, I wanted to post a pic of me drinking Champagne. Is that wrong? (If it is, I don't want to be right!)   Yes, we all love our kids and would do anything for them; however let’s be honest, we cherish our freedom from strict bedtimes, homework and racing from activity to activity. Yet at the same time, we are so excited to see them go back to school and right back into the hectic routine.  It's the 'routine' that we both love and hate.

The same is true in our stores.  

In the retail sector, we’re pretty good about holding our store managers accountable.  We crank out all kinds of objectives and measurements to make sure that each location can ‘hold its own’ as a separate business unit … and heaven help the Store Manager who isn’t up to snuff!

But are we just as diligent in holding District Managers accountable?  Generally speaking, the answer is “No”.

With summer quickly coming to an end and we look ahead to the biggest, most important selling season in retail, we wanted to ask you, who’s leading your team to battle during this make-it-or-break-it time of year?  (And yes, that’s our fearless leader, Kevin Graff, suited up and ready to win at this crazy game we call Retail!)

All joking aside, retail is a battle. 

Relax … we’re not talking about you personally!

In looking through some old newsletters this week, I ran across one that we wrote more than 13 years ago.  I couldn’t help but laugh at how I wrote back then.  But, the story we wrote about resonates as well today as it did back then.  The retail market is more competitive than ever, and we’ve seen a number of well-known brands bite the dust.  So, sit back and enjoy a real life story from 2004!

We talk a lot about the importance of celebrating successes with your retail teams.  There’s no right or wrong way to do this; just make sure you’re actually doing it and making it a part of your regular daily, weekly and monthly operations in the store.

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