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Training Retail Workers

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In the world of retail, training can be the deal breaker between making a sale or not. Poorly trained staff can not only cause a store to slip in sales but also cause customers to turn away — away to stores with better service.

If you are a store manager, training your staff should be your number-one priority.

I had a boss at a well-known clothing store who never trained me. On my first day, I was shown around the sales floor and, in less than a few hours, was expected to make sales. In just a few days, I was expected to hit high sales numbers by the end of my shift — all of this without any training, despite my boss’s knowing that I had had no previous selling experience.

The lack of training was frustrating. My boss assumed too much, ignored training me, and then proceeded to express (quite openly) his frustration for my lack of experience. Had someone taken the time to train me, the store would not only have had a happier employee but increased sales as well.



If you knowingly hire an inexperienced employee, expect to train her — especially if you expect your staff to exceed your expectations. Don’t be afraid to invest in training videos and seminars. You may even want to schedule regular training meetings where you role-play situations with “customers.” Whatever your tactic, make sure your staff is well trained to ensure a healthy workforce and a successful business.

Clothing Stores

Workers should know what materials stretch, what materials shrink, and what fits snugly versus loosely. Have your workers try clothes on during their breaks. This will help when customers ask, “Is this supposed to fit so tight?”

Make sure employees understand colors and patterns — they should be able to recommend complementary colors to customers who ask. They should be able to form outfits and put together trendy creations to match the customer’s preferences.

When a new shipment comes in or clothing sections have been moved around the sales floor, make sure to inform your staff. This will cut back on time spent running around the store, trying to locate items for impatient customers.

Tech Stores

One tech store with particularly well-trained staff is Apple.

You walk in, and among the sea of employees, every one of them can assist you. If you ask questions that aren’t in their area of expertise, they ask another worker for help.

Workers there have been trained to know their products. They have answers. They have experience. They understand and enjoy computers and software. Apple workers also allow customers to linger and test things on their own; however, when someone appears confused, an employee is there in just a few moments to offer assistance.

Train your staff to not only know the products but also strike the right balance of customer service. If workers hover too closely, customers could be turned off and take their money elsewhere. However, if workers talk only to their coworkers and ignore customers, the same situation could arise. Be sure to strike a healthy balance.

Bookstores

Staff should be familiar with all areas of the bookstore. Regardless of whether someone only works in one department, such as “books” or “stationery,” make sure every worker knows about the store’s varying products. Customers might not realize that stores hire according to department; customers do know, however, that they want answers when they ask for them. Cross-train. Have staff read popular books and attend book conventions and author events. Even have your employees sample lotions if they’re sold at the store.

Offer new hires a map of the store for them to reference if they find themselves struggling to remember where the autobiographies or art books are. Have them walk around the store several times until they can name each section. When new sections are added or moved, make sure you inform the staff to prevent confusion.

All in all, a well-trained staff makes for a stronger workforce, management team, and business. Customers will notice and appreciate a well-trained staff. It’s what will bring them back for more.
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