Your Slow – or Busy – End of Summer


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The end of summer is always an interesting time for our readers.  Many of your stores will be slowing down, giving you to time to catch up on projects and fall cleaning. As employees because focused on these other activities it’s important that they continue to maximize every customer opportunity and deliver the best possible experience.
There is another group of readers who are now in their peak season.  College stores are in rush mode and are slammed with returning students. Even in these crazy weeks it’s important that every employee continue to maximize every customer opportunity and deliver the best possible experience.
Here are three tips to ensure all stores have a strong end of summer and start of the fall selling season.
1. Have a dedicated floor leader.  In slow stores, the biggest challenge is letting projects take precedence over customers and their experience. In busy stores, it’s letting the crowds take precedence over each individual employee’s experience.
One way to keep that from happening is to always have one person whose primary responsibility is leading on the floor. In slow stores the floor leader is to only work on projects and other activities when no customers are in the store. Other employees can focus on their projects and will only need to help customers when asked by the floor leader.
In the busy stores a manager is usually the floor leader, but managers are often pulled off the floor, leaving the store leaderless. While the store almost always runs fine in the manager’s absence, it does greatly decrease the likelihood of delivering the best possible experience to every customer.
Any time a manager has to leave the floor during rush for more than a couple minutes he or she should pass the floor leader “baton” on to someone else. While the person can just verbally pass on the floor leadership position to another staff member, some stores will actually have a physical object they pass back and forth as a reminder of their responsibility.
2. Never be too busy or too slow to start and end the day with a Daily Take Five. Take Fives are especially important during rush to communicate goals, updates, and get the staff focused and motivated for the day.  If you have a number of returning and new employees, try to do the Take Fives in groups, and take time to answer any questions. Chances are if one employee is confused about something, others are, too.
Daily Take Fives are also needed in slower stores to keep the staff sharp and ready to maximize each customer opportunity. Here’s a way to make staff development more engaging and interesting. (I was going to say fun but no matter what you do, some employees won’t see development activities as fun.) Write “Customer role play,” “associate role play” and “product knowledge” on pieces of paper, then put the three pieces of paper in a hat. Have the employee draw one of the papers.
If the employee draws the first card they are to play the role of a customer with you or another employee taking the part of the sales associate.  Use this time as a teachable moment, and have the employee give you feedback at the end of the role-play.
If they draw the second card they are to be the sales person in a role-play. Make sure whomever they partner with gives them feedback on what they did well and what they could have done better.
If they draw the product knowledge card, take them over to a product and quiz them on the features, benefits, and appropriate add-ons.
3. Use the time to improve each person’s most important area of development. Slower stores will want to use this break in the action to meet one-to-one with each individual employee and review recent challenges and successes. They’ll also want to define one or two areas of focus for fall.
The busier stores won’t have time for an extensive sit down, but that doesn’t mean every employee shouldn’t have one area of development to work on during the peak season.  A cashier might have a goal of reducing overages/shortages.  An associate in electronics might be working to improve his/her UPT (unit-per-transaction) by 20%, and a stock associate might be working on engaging more customers while stocking.
As you can see, the key to success is always the same if you’re busy or not, but how you approach it changes based on the needs of the customer.   Forget customer service, it’s all about the experience.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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