Staff, along with inventory, represents one of the largest headaches of running any retail business. It seems to be that you’re forever trying to get staff to perform, stop arguing, start working, or even just to turn up! Show me a store owner without any staff issues and I’ll show you a store owner without staff!
Yet the difference between a store with good performing staff and one without can be light years. There is such a thing as an effective team, and when you get it right it can be one of the most satisfying parts of being self employed. Not only is the camaraderie uplifting, but the level of sales can be vastly improved.
Part of the secret is in choosing the right staff in the first place. As investors often say, the money is made when you buy, not when you sell, and the same truth applies for staffing. Getting the right people, with the right attitude, in the right job can make all the difference.
Yet, so often we see store owners who spend little or no time on the hiring process, choosing staff rapidly with little investigation and minimal questioning. We then spend considerably longer dealing with the repercussions of not taking the time during the initial recruitment process.
1. When hiring, use the tools available. There are so many resources available to help with recruiting these days that can stack the odds in your favor. For minimal cost, these resources can provide you with a profile of your potential staff members and their ability to meet the requirements of the task they are being asked to do.
2. Put the right person in the right position. Even staff with a great attitude and an abundance of talent can’t do everything. We’ve all seen the efficient administrative person who looks like a duck out of water when selling. Likewise, the talented seller who leaves a trail of unfinished paperwork and incomplete order forms as they move onto the next big sale. These staff can be real assets provided they are groomed for the job that suits them. The end result of getting it wrong can be missed opportunities, increased workload and unhappy staff.
3. Hire Slowly. Don’t make a hasty decision because you’re heading on holiday, or you haven’t got next month’s roster covered. I know of one store who insisted on interviewing their final potential candidates four separate times in four separate environments. It can be easy for someone to make a great first impression in one half hour interview, but the cracks will start to show by the time they’ve sat down with you a 3rd or 4th time. They begin to relax and some truths may start to come out.
4. Train. A large percentage of failed recruitments can come down to the employer. Training by osmosis doesn’t work! You need to prepare an appropriate job description, set up a system for managing ongoing performance, and make sure the staff member is trained to deal with the job that they are being asked to do.
5. Deal with the weeds. No one enjoys firing, but the cost, both emotionally and financially for all staff concerned, can be greater if you don’t take action immediately. Do all you can to help the person in the position, but if you realize eventually it doesn’t suit them (and chances are they will too), then it will do everyone a favor to bring the matter to a close. As a friend of mine used to say, “Sometimes you just have to free them up to pursue other opportunities.” Always be aware of employment legislation when making these decisions and seek advice from appropriate parties when doing so.