Kevin had the chance to speak to a room full of franchisees at a recent AGM.  The topic?  All about how to drive revenues in their stores, of course!  Kevin’s keynotes aren’t fluffy; but rather packed full of tangible action-items that any retailer can take back to their stores, implement easily and start seeing results.  If any of you have had the pleasure of hearing Kevin speak live at one of your annual meetings, you know first-hand just how inspiring and motivating one of his talks can be.  I am sure the majority of the franchise owners agree after seeing just how many made the decision to sign up for Graff Retail TV; our online sales and management training programs. 

This is where I come into the picture.  Once a retailer comes on board with our online training programs, it’s my job to ensure they get off on the right foot and are set up for success.  While we do have some great tools to help with introducing new training to retail teams and on-going support available for all of our retail clients, this time I had a rare opportunity to pay one of my favourite pet food store retail teams a personal visit to make sure they were ready and excited about their new training journey.  (As a doting dog owner, I frequent my local pet foods store in Niagara pretty much on a daily basis…I know, crazy, but it just happens to be on my regular dog walking route!)

I’ve introduced and launched our Get Selling and Get Managing online programs with retailers hundreds of times over the years with teams both big and small.  After this live, in person launch at the pet foods store, I realized that one of the secrets to success is truly the way you introduce your training from the get-go.  The secrets I shared with the team at pet foods store aren’t just reserved for them or for Graff Retail TV training programs.  These are best practices that all retailers can use to ensure success:

  1. It starts at the top – Upper management needs to ‘get it’ before anyone on the team will ever ‘buy in’ to the idea of a new training program.  You don’t have to be the expert, but you do have to believe in the training program you are embarking on and you have to commit to keeping it alive in order to see the results.  Walk the walk and talk the talk.  You can’t just introduce it and walk away thinking your staff will take it and run with it.
  2. Have a roll out plan – Know when you intend to start and how you intend to work through all the various modules that your training program offers.  Fortunately the Graff Retail TV programs come with a weekly implementation plan to guide you and your team and ensure you make the most of every intentional training component.
  3. Make it happen – If you are going from no training at all to a new, more formal approach to training with your sales teams, you have to have a plan in place to carve out the time to make it happen.  Training shouldn’t feel like an extra task.  When management makes it a priority and an implementation plan is in place, you will find the time for training moments and start to make your training program part of your daily/weekly/monthly operations.
  4. Take it to the floor – Whether your training is more ‘old school paper based’, video based interactive e-learning, or a classroom style approach, it won’t work unless you get your staff utilizing the learning out on the floor.  A manager’s role is to build a bridge between what’s learned in training and in real life conversations with customers.  This means making a commitment to being on the floor with your staff so you can observe them in action.  Don’t think just because you have your staff watch a video in the backroom that they are going to run back out to the store and start doing everything the video instructed them to do.  You have to model it and talk it up! 
  5. Coach and follow up – The last secret?  Be ready to put your coach’s hat on!  Start by having a home base in the backroom; a sales training board of sorts.  This will give you a place to post your selling topic of the week, your selling tips, sales goals and makes for a great spot to huddle up and hold your regular shift starter meetings with your team.  Coaching is all about communicating, so this is a good place to start.  Next, get comfortable with coaching on the spot out on the floor in between customers. 

So, I know my friends over at the Niagara pet foods store are set up for success and off to a good start.  My dog Murphy and I checked in on the team this past Friday and the team had already completed their Welcome Video and Fast Track Video from our Get Selling online program!  I can tell that the team is poised for success because before I left the store that day, they were already presenting new solutions to me for a raw food diet for Murph!  Hmmm…this sales training may end up costing me in the end!  I didn’t consider that, but I’m still looking forward to some selling success stories from the sales floor at my favourite pet foods shop! 

Mary Gordon and Kim McCutcheon have been supporting retail front lines for as long as they can remember. A dynamic duo, Mary and Kim understand what it takes to make training work at store level and know how to inspire, coach and support retail teams in all of their training endeavours.

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