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 really 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.

  •  Time

Stores, Managers and front line staff are busy.  The training takes too much time and the team just gives up.

  • Turnover

Staff turnover is a reality of retail.  It’s hard to keep training all the new hires, over and over again; it’s too much.  End result, most staff is just learning on the fly and the training goes right out the window!

  • Ease

The content must be easy to deliver and apply.  If you still have a big, fat training manual in the backroom, it doesn’t make for easy delivery.  I bet it’s just collecting dust!

  • Sustainability

Even if you manage to get some training completed with your staff, it seems to have gone in one ear and out the other.  It’s just not memorable or used in the long run. 

There’s no doubt about it, these are all very valid realities that challenge retailers when it comes to training at store level, but we know there are solutions available for each of these hurdles.  This list is really just a list of excuses, it’s not the real reason that training isn’t working out there. 

Let’s get back to the original question.  What does it take to roll out and sustain a great training initiative at store level?  In our experience, the very simple answer to this is LEADERSHIP.  Where’s the LEADERSHIP?  If no one ‘OWNS’ the program at the top, if your District Managers don’t oversee and talk up the training on store visits, and if Store Managers don’t embrace the training as part of your overall culture it will surely fail.  We see retailers invest in sophisticated Learning Management Systems and spend small fortunes on customized videos and training apps, only to learn that their time-saving, easy and sustainable training solution still doesn’t deliver results!  It isn’t enough to shove the training out to the front line and abandon it.  Someone has to be responsible to drive it.  Retail Leaders from HR, Store Ops and even the COO/CEO should have a full understanding of the training and fully embrace their investment in their front line teams.  All the infrastructure and great content doesn’t mean a thing without a ‘from the top down’ belief in the program.  Own it, talk about it, make it a part of your ‘language’, champion the training and you will win.

If you believe in the training you have in place but aren’t getting the results you should, the answer lies in your Leadership.  Will the rightful OWNER finally stand up!  We’re here to help as always, so if your Leaders could use some development in this area or, just in general, we invite you to join us at our 2 Day Retail Leadership Summit – October 17th & 18th!

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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