3 Problems with Retail Staff

In a perfect retail shop, you have an unlimited income, flexible workers who need no supervision and enough hours in the day to complete every task.

However, the retail isn’t perfect and neither are humans. There are myriad personalities and possible pitfalls to consider in staff, and, as we discovered in last month’s survey, it worries our customers.

3 of the biggest staffing issues are below along with actions you as manager can take. Tell us if you agree or have other ideas in the comments section:

They don’t like helping people

Some salespeople have a double edged personality. They were hired as a salesperson and they make sales. That’s all. This type of salesperson has short term success, but actively discourages repeat customers. They don’t serve people. They don’t offer help.

The money still comes in, for a while. Meanwhile, your customers leave the shop with things they potentially don’t like, or want, and with memories of bad service.

Or maybe your salesperson isn’t even making the sale. An estimated 38% of retail workers are introverts – they don’t enjoy talking to your customers. You know the ones: The shelf stackers, with blank expressions, who palm off customers’ questions to colleagues.

The floor staff is the front line where the culture of a company is shown to the world. Remember, as retail manager the buck does stop with you. You can only improve things if you get to the root of the issue: Why? Why are they not providing service to customers?

Is the culture of your business positive? Is it focused on the customer experience? It’s ultimately your responsibility to provide customer service training, to motivate, offer incentives and set (service based) goals. And if they are truly afraid of speaking to people, be flexible – they may have a great strength in office work.

They aren’t doing their job properly

Are you not getting enough sales from an employee? Do there seem to be regular complaints about the products they sell? Instead of sticking band-aids on the problems, get back to the source of the issue. The employee isn’t doing their job properly: Why?

There could be myriad reasons an employee isn’t performing, but the three most common can and should be addressed:
Are they properly trained?
Are they given an incentive to succeed?
Are they the right fit for their job?
Consider asking them these questions outright – you may find the answer quickly, but if you don’t, assume the answer is no, for each of the 3 questions. It may take a while to deduce whats wrongbut you will find it pays off in the long run.

That’s if they’re there. Sometimes they’re not.

There’s nothing worse than staff that regularly don’t turn up. Maybe they have a series of valid excuses, or maybe they just go AWOL every so often.

Either way it’s not easy for the manager to fix. But guess what, it’s still your responsibility. You can still change the outcomes. You need to answer this question: why don’t they want to come? Do they feel they are paid fairly? Are you providing them with work they enjoy, and what’s on their job description? Do you understand them as people? They have a personal life as well, and may be going through a difficult stage. The best thing you can do is encourage and support them through it. Don’t make work difficult as well.

They don’t like you

Employers and employees occasionally just clash. It makes life difficult for both, can be visible to customers and make the operation of the store inefficient. Once again, as the manager you have to take responsibility if you aren’t getting on.

Understanding your staff as people – not just ‘hands’- goes a long way to resolving issues. Respect for their views and their needs will breed respect from them for you and the business.

Initiate them into the workplace culture, consider team building exercises and training. Keep communication channels open. Take a genuine interest in their progress and encourage feedback.

Look at staffing in your store as an investment; neglect it and the responsibility of unhappy customers will land squarely at your feet, but properly manage it and you will see your effort pay off.

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