The retail industry thrives on excellent customer service and often, delivery of a superior customer experience will make the difference between high-value sales and retained, loyal customers and a lost sale. The fact is, a retail store can look utterly compelling, the product line can be perfectly positioned and the brand experience can be faultless, but if a potential customer walks in off the street and is faced with poor service, they will very likely take their business elsewhere!
So, retail businesses know that their staff are essential for driving forward success, and yet it is tricky to attract, retain and develop the right mix of front line retail staff. Traditionally these roles have been filled on a part-time basis, with many of the sales force working on temporary or seasonal contracts around other commitments. Building strong competencies and commitment to retail excellence can be challenging in such diverse teams, where some staff are permanent and full-time and others are simply working on interim contracts to cover peak sales periods. So how can you build team performance?
Building the Team
Firstly, training must lie at the heart of your delivery. Staff must be invested in and trained accordingly and this must also include seasonal and part-time staff; after all, the customer does not know the difference between a contract worker and an experienced permanent team leader, when both are on the shop floor. Ensure that adequate training is given at induction point and deliver regular product training sessions throughout the year.
Implement a buddy or mentor system for newer staff and use a mix of incentives and promotions for staff to incentive’s strong performance, particularly if there are sales targets to reach with credit account sales for example. Training can be delivered via e-learning or bite-sized sessions before the working day, afterwards in a team huddle, or when the retail premises are closed. Try to get the whole team away at least once a year for a celebration and wider training session to encourage teamwork and bonding.
For those staff that show real commitment and enthusiasm to succeed, implement a ‘fast track’ system for them to advance, or if you work as part of a larger network, speak to the head office about possible schemes.
Group interviews can be useful when combined with assessment centers for peak recruitment periods and flexible contracts can suit both employer and new staff member. Use an industry experienced retail recruiter for in-depth sector knowledge and best practice methods and work closely with them within a partnership arrangement wherever possible. A flexible costing model may also suit you well if your recruitment is seasonal and regular.