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A brand new season is upon us and, naturally, most retailers want to lift their performance up a notch compared to last year. How big a jump that’s going to be depends on the overall goals and objectives of the business. Whatever the number is, reviewing the fundamentals of your retail operation is in order.

At DMSRetail, when it comes to performance, we place the highest degree of importance on people. When all things are equal, people make a big difference.

In fact people make a huge difference even when everything else is not equal. We have seen stores out performing other stores that are located in much larger market areas with higher average income levels within the same retail chain.

Therefore our first recommendation is to take a close look at the people oriented aspects of your operation.

Here are some of them:

Hiring: Hiring the right caliber of people is crucial to your success in retail management, perhaps more so than in any other industry. Every single one of your hiring decisions, as a Store Manager, District Manager or Regional Manager or a Business Owner will speak volumes about your organization and your personal values and abilities. In retail there is no such thing as hiding behind a desk or a cubicle for any employee and, thus, for their Manager.

A simple but very effective way of hiring the right people is modeling. Develop a sufficiently detailed profile of your most successful person and look for and hire people who fit that profile as closely as possible even if it means paying a few dollars more; you will be rewarded multiple times over in terms of elevated performance and lack of headaches. Pure and simple.

Training: Everybody seems to know how important training is, yet most retail managers give it only lip service.

One of the major reasons for the high degree of customer dissatisfaction and resulting lost sales in the retail industry is poorly trained employees who do not have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

An important part of the training must be clear communication of goals, objectives and expectations in full detail.

Measurements in terms of sales numbers, customer satisfaction index and other performance indicators should be on paper and staff must be verbally quizzed regularly to make sure they know all the expectations and their individual performance against those expectations at any given time.

Performance Evaluation: If you have installed the performance expectations correctly, then evaluation of staff performance is a simple and straight forward process. If your staff is performing above expectations, all you have to do is  stretch the expectations a little and support them with a pat on the back, prizes and other monetary and non-monetary rewards to keep them going higher and higher.

On the other hand, if they are not performing, there are usually 2 fundamental reasons:

a) Lack of skills
b) Lack of right attitude

Lack of skills is fairly easy to deal with – it means that they have to go back to training.

Dealing with a bad attitude can range from difficult to very complex. If you followed our advice on hiring, you should not be suffering from bad attitude disease.

In any case, here are possible dimensions of an attitude problem:

a) Management-induced dimensions: incompetent managers almost always create an atmosphere where staff does not care anymore. If manager to staff communication is poor and/or too seldom, the staff will feel neglected and if the situation continues for any length of time, the feeling will turn into a bad attitude.

Another management- induced dimension occurs when the manager doesn’t know how to motivate or doesn’t want to motivate, or both. This again, will ultimately result in a bad attitude.

The management-induced bad attitude list can be a long one and will result in severe lack of performance of the store.

b) Lack of self motivation: Some people suffer from chronic lack of self confidence, often as a result of poor upbringing and lack of education.

Unless you are a psychologist ( which you probably aren’t) or have a ton of free time on your hands (which you don’t) this is a tough nut to crack. Your best bet is probably to part ways.

c) Personal issues: these can be anywhere from physical convenience issues like living far from the workplace and not having dependable transportation to personal family dramas that may be affecting the individual’s focus, devotion and behavior resulting in lack of performance.

Your ‘all around high performers’ are your most valuable asset. They are your goodwill ambassadors, your spokespersons; they create your image and your fine reputation.

They build relationships with your customers and they can turn them into customers for life. They sell your products.

Because of the impact they have, you owe it to yourself and your business to hire, train and evaluate people with the utmost care and attention.

The bottom line is you have to be very aware of people performance issues and you have to be equipped to deal with those issues if you want to make this year your best year ever.
You can find our Retail Employee Evaluation System You can Use to Improve Performance in Retail Business Academy:

Retail Business Academy

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