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.

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 over and it's time to get the cobwebs out and get back to the basics.

If you're not sure what you need to do to refresh your training and/or performance coaching in the store, here are a few Spring Training Tips that you can start working on right away; even if you don't have a solid sales training program in place yet!

Every quarter they arrive like clockwork.  Your sales plan for each month and week.  Descending from upon high, they become the gospel upon which schedules, incentives and more are based upon.  What you need to know is that more often than not, these sales plans curse you to a life of complacency and mediocrity.

We’ve been seeing it the last 5 years (at least!).  Every retail Industry trade show out there has a technology twist; so much so that we joke that there aren’t any retail-specific trade events left out there…they’ve all morphed into full-on technology shows!  That speaks volumes about our wonderful industry which has consistently been a frontrunner when it comes to adopting technology, especially when it comes to social technologies. 

The link between the retail sector and social media cannot be denied.  So, no matter what stage you are at with your social efforts our customers and employees choose social as their media of choice.  It’s time to build social media success into your overall strategy!   In fact, at Graff Retail, we’re committing to it in a more meaningful way this year (finally!).

Socially speaking, what are you doing?

I have been hearing a lot of complaining lately about 'the younger generation' and the 'older generation' in the workplace.  It’s time to stop the complaining and begin to understand.

Think about it:  We spend a lot of time asking our customers questions in order to determine their needs and we spend time actively listening so that we can best meet those needs.  However, why is it that when it comes to our front line staff, we spend more time pushing information and even less time listening?

Shouldn't we understand our staff as well as we understand our customers if we want to engage them?

Shouldn't we spend more time asking THEM questions? 

Is finding and developing the 'right' store staff such a big deal? Doesn't your format and merchandise do all the real selling, while employees are just there to receive your customer's cash? Before you get too far down this line of thinking, consider the following list of questions, designed to challenge your assumptions:

Valentine’s Day just passed us by for another year and it got me thinking about what makes for a good and/or bad Valentine’s Day.  From this, my thoughts drifted to what makes for a good and/or bad retail experience (needless to say, with thoughts like this, you can pretty much guess how my Valentine’s Day went!)…Enough about me, the point is good and not so good experiences typically all come down to the people involved in said experiences.   For a good experience in retail, this means you can’t be the kind of sales associate that breaks hearts, especially when it’s really not that difficult to dish out some retail love for your customers with just a little know-how!  So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day this week, here’s my top 5 most heartbreaking moves I see out there on the sales floor:

Remember those great “Where’s Waldo?” books?  Finding Waldo was always a challenge.  Seems to me that strong Leadership in retail is often just as hard to find.

The trending topics and areas of concern in the retail industry are always consistent.  Companies struggle with a lack of employee engagement, a lack of synergy in our multi-generational workplaces, a lack of compliance on key standards and inconsistency in execution.

What about the lack of leadership? Should this not be our priority and focus?  After all, it’s the number one reason all of the problems above exist in the first place.

How are your customers being treated every day?  Do you know for sure?  Maybe you’re simply accepting the input and opinions of your management team.  Or maybe you’re just assuming?

Whatever process you use to ensure that store staff is properly servicing your customers, it’s probably time for you to consider taking things to the next level by formalizing your service standards.  Why?  Despite beliefs to the contrary, most retailers fall down in this area … big time!

It's almost the end of January and I am still pondering my Christmas shopping experiences in December. Why am I still pondering this nearly a month later? Well, for starters, I'm a retail consultant.  So this is the kind of stuff I think about constantly.  I'm kind of obsessed with finding ways to improve store performance. Yes, it does make me a bit of a demanding shopper, but let's not forget that your customers are more demanding now than ever before.   

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