Greatest Resource – Finding and keeping good employees
by: Ritchie Sayner
How to find and keep good employees is a question sure to garner an impassioned response from any retailer to whom it is posed. For sure, there are no easy answers. From discussions I’ve had with retailers on this topic one thing is very clear: the interview process is the most crucial step in hiring and retention process.
If you were to look back at good hires, I believe you would find that they all had impressive interviews and all seemed likely to adhere to company values and have a full understanding of the job being offered. Conversely, when shortcuts are taken during the interview process or circumvented in some other way, potential trouble often lurks ahead.
One retailer I spoke with insists on two to three interviews over multiple days with key management personnel. He strongly encourages that all retailers know the laws in their respective state and get everything on the table by asking good questions. Understanding the job description and time commitment are essential components that must be covered and well documented. Keeping good records as part of the personnel file is a must, including signed statements from the employee stating that they have read and understand all aspects of the job description. This particular merchant has an initial review after 90 days and annually thereafter. Do not skip the annual review!
With regard to experience, prior experience is obviously a plus and is, of course essential for key positions such as buying and store management. He offers that older employees offer stability and work ethic, but that there may be health issues to deal with. “Big personality” is key. The employee must be able to relate well to others. People buy from people they like.
Another store owner I spoke with who enjoys low employee turnover emphasized that any potential employee must be able to relate and support the core values of the company. These values will vary based on the needs and overall mission statement of the company, but a list of five to 10 key points that are central to the core of the organization should be adhered to. Obvious due diligence such as background checks, including criminal history and drug use, can also be helpful, as well as, references from previous employees. A potential employee at this retailer begins with a screening by the human relations department to make an initial determination if the applicant is a potential fit for the opportunity available. From there the applicant would be interviewed by the general manager and finally the department manager. Throughout the process, all interviews center around compliance with the core values. Any deviations or doubts from any interviewer can squelch the deal. Since most hires come from referrals from current employees, the prospective employee should already know a bit about the organization and already want to work there.
Living by the saying that “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys,” this retailer chooses to pay a generous commission, which is adjustable annually due to performance. Store managers also use a weekly checklist for each employee designed to make sure that the salesperson is focused on doing the right thing and offering superb customer service. A perfect score at month’s end will earn the employee a bonus in addition to other incentives and spiffs that may be offered at management’s discretion.
Most retailers agree that any deviations from what historically is proven to work is probably not going to end well. Don’t shortcut the interview process, don’t make any quick decisions and pass if there are any doubts. There are no guarantees, but decent pay, including the potential for incentives and bonuses coupled with an enjoyable work environment and good chemistry with your fellow associates, goes a long way toward finding and keeping good employees.
(Ritchie Sayner is the author or “Retail Revelation-Strategies for Improving Sales, Margins, and Turnover,” available from Amazon. He can be reached at RSayner@rmsa.com.)
About Inside Outdoor Magazine:
We know outdoor executives have access to plenty of instantaneous information. But one thing decision makers overwhelmingly tell us they can’t get enough of is thoroughly researched and highly scrutinized news and analysis that can be applied directly to improving day-to-day operations.
Having surpassed more than a decade in the industry, Inside Outdoor Magazine’s staff of seasoned outdoor journalists represent years of experience in specialty retail, product manufacturing, business analysis and living the outdoor lifestyle. We believe this mix of backgrounds is a key component to complementing your marketing message with the business modeling, cost-margin analysis, trend forecasting and quantified operational advice that’s already proven to capture loyalty and engage readers, and studies show that reader engagement with media and advertising can drive sales.
Your customers would need to expend significant time and money to amass the information and advice, in addition to, the requisite industry movements, trends and product innovations—that we deliver straight to their mailboxes, for free, all year round.