The faces of your franchise
A store is only as good as the people that work there. And whether you want to realize this or not, your unique store stands by this same theory.
Merchants come in all shapes and sizes, but the unique part of being a specialty store is that your employees matter more than your big-box competitors, which have national brand recognition that lends them to brand understanding and consumer understanding. Your store doesn’t have that on its side. Instead, your consumer impressions are made more uniquely based on the many interactions your customers experience and share with others. From a Yelp review to a dinner conversation with friends, the voices of your customers are extremely influential in your store’s success.
Store employees are vital factors in how your customers react and respond to your store. As a result, your employees need to be reactive and responsive to customers. Ask yourself the following:
Are your employees approachable and friendly?
Do your employees willingly engage with customers, or do you need to push them?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of your employees?
What expectations have you set that your employees have or have not met?
Do your employees know product details and confidently share them with customers?
Are your employees the best representation of your store?
The answers can help you evaluate how you can increase your sales success by strengthening your customer care. Consider these five tips:
Encourage ownership. Whether your shelves haven’t been appropriately stocked or your sales associates forget to welcome a guest as they entered your store, there is no excuse for sales associates who don’t meet job expectations. It’s important to identify the responsibilities you expect from your team, and then hold them accountable for their actions. Having a sense of responsibility not only improves their actions, but also your store sales.
Strengthen communication. As a store manager, it’s important to act how you want your sales team to act. This means communicating professionally with both your team and customers. Very simply, your actions alone can’t lead your team to stronger success. Share action steps with them on how they can improve their performances. Teach them ways to better communicate with customers. Tell them when they’re doing well and offer suggestions on how they can improve their performance in areas they need some help in. Never, however, shame them in front of others or make them feel like they don’t matter to your store. They do matter, and only you can help shape this understanding.
Welcome Challenges. Throwing your team some surprises every now and again is a great way to see who is up for a challenge and who would rather sit it out. Identify expectations, deadlines or sales goals that wake your team up and challenge them to step outside of their comfort zones. Those that happily engage in these activities are typically your stronger sales players, welcoming the diverse scenarios that customer service brings. You can also use this as an opportunity to highlight the strengths of your sales team — encouraging your staff to help merchandise the store or do other operational responsibilities that ultimately impacts store sales.
Be Customer Focused. Sometimes being customer focused means losing a sale because it simply doesn’t make sense for the customer to buy something. More often, however, it means delivering standout customer service that consistently gains sales. Putting the customer first, the store second and then themselves is a great lineup to follow. If you need to nudge them or remind them that this is the 1-2-3 checklist they should follow, then do so. Remember — communication is key.
Solve problems. In the world of retail, there will be problems that arise from inventory, customers and yes, even you. Each of these problems, however, should be reacted to with great care and comfort from your management team and from your sales associates alike. You lead by example, so always keep this in mind, as well. Have policies in place for potential problems that may arise, be sure to train your team on these.
A Final Thought
Retail is a people-person type of environment. So be sure that you hire employees that are also people-person people.
Did you follow that?
Very simply, if you or your employees aren’t comfortable helping others and confidently engaging with customers, retail may not be the best fit for them. If you hear your sales team gossip, talk poorly of customers, put down consumer situations or talk negatively about people in general, they aren’t ideal for a sales role. On the contrary, if they don’t talk and are the shy type, he or she may not be a good candidate for your sales floor, either. Really consider who is representing your store and how this impacts your sales.