I’ve had the pleasure of representing Graff Retail at the Retail Council of Canada annual STORE Conference since 2009.  This year, the conference was better than ever, with the biggest names in global retail speaking at the event; and our own Kevin Graff as one fantastic emcee! 

Even Abraham Lincoln once said (we're paraphrasing here) "If I had 6 hours to chop down a big tree, I'd spend the first 2 hours sharpening my axe."

Powerful advice from a very successful man.  In a few words, it speaks volumes about the importance of preparation, doesn't it?

The term omni-channel is everywhere these days.  It can sound pretty intimidating and confusing for most.   To simplify it, just think of your customers and how they now expect to interact with your brand/store seamlessly across all of your platforms.  They expect a smooth and nearly invisible transition from your website to your mobile platform to your stores.  Multiple channels to deal with your customer … but you need to think of just one customer and expect they’re already interacting with you across all platforms.

That’s pretty heady stuff for marketers and the folks in IT.  But what about all the staff running and working in stores?  What does it really mean for them?

Let’s get this out of the way right up front.  I think I know a lot. And, the guy I work for?  Well, he thinks he knows even more!

But the most important thing we know is that what we actually know is just a very small fraction of what there is to know.  Yes, I’m confident in my knowledge, but more than that, it’s my awareness of all the things I don’t know (and that’s a lot!) that drives me to learn, research, study and grow.

What about you?  How much do you think you know about retailing, selling, managing staff, running a store, or building a business?  You pick the topic.

Summer is just around the corner, and depending on the nature of your business, you may be in full-force seasonal hiring mode. So, let’s say you’re already on track with finding and hiring the best people for the job. Equally important is having a training plan in place so when they do start, you’re sure to get the most out of your seasonal staff. After all, if it’s important enough to put them on the sales floor, shouldn’t it also be important enough to train them?

Who are the leaders in your company? 

The owner(s)?  The CEO?  The VP’s? We often think of leadership in terms of the most senior positions in an organization (especially if we occupy one of them!).  But what if this wasn’t true?  What if we were to tell you that the most important leaders in your company don’t hold an executive title?  That they work much closer to the front lines than the CEO does?  That they, in fact, spend a lot more of their time in the stores than attending meetings at head office?

If you don't already have a sales training program in place to teach your sales staff how to sell and service your customers, you need to get one!  If you do have a sales training program in place, but it's not working as well as you hoped, maybe you are missing a key ingredient to sustain your training efforts? 

No one likes to talk about this topic.  It makes everyone feel bad.  When I’m on stage at a conference talking about it, people avoid making eye contact with me.  You can cut the tension in the room with a knife.  It’s the real ‘shame’ of retail.

There has been a lot of press lately highlighting how a number of big name retailers have upped their starting pay rates.  In one case, Starbucks has gone as far as paying 100% of the college tuition for its employees … WELL DONE!

In fact, overall employee management practices have evolved a lot over the past number of years.  Fairer scheduling practices.  Better perks.  Improved benefits.  Enhanced work environments. Higher rates of pay.   All in all, it could be successfully argued that retail employees have it better today than ever before.  And good for them!  

The challenge now for all retailers is to ensure they’re keeping up with what everyone around them is doing. 

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!


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