5 Secrets Every Retailer Should Know About Creating Excellent Employees

Small business owners are a passionate bunch. Unfortunately, most of them can’t run their businesses alone–no matter how much they may be tempted to try.. So how can they ensure employees treat customers the same way that they would, even when they’re not around?
By stooping to excellence, says customer service speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author, Shep Hyken.
Every company has its own culture. A store’s culture is what determines whether a customer is greeted with a smile by employees who are consistently courteous and helpful or if they’re constantly disappointed by their experience at the store. But a good culture is something that rarely happens by accident. Below are 5 secrets retailers can use to craft a culture of excellence among their employees for better service and better sales.

Secret #1: Stooping to Excellence
Many years ago, when Walt Disney was still managing Disney properties, he would walk through the park, and when he saw a piece of paper or trash he’d bend over a pick it up. He knew that other people were watching him, explains Hyken. If he ignored it, then he was giving permission for everyone else to ignore it too.
He called this stooping to excellence.
More than just setting an example, Disney was sending a message about expectations. He set the bar high, with himself as an example.
Managers need to know that when an employee fails at a task or a job role, it’s rarely because they don’t have the skills—it’s because they don’t understand what the expectations of them are. Make expectations clear and lead by example to create the kind of custom experience Disney properties are still renowned for.
The takeaway? Be clear about expectations. . . and if it’s important for your employees to do it, it’s important enough that you should do it too.
Secret #2: Let Them Own It
Perhaps one of the most common tips for managers it to allow their employees to feel a sense of ownership. But how?
Hyken says he encourages clients to have their employees write up an index card at the end of each week with their best customer service moment.
For the first few weeks employees have to think back over their week to come up with something. But by then a shift happens. Employees begin looking for moments each day where they can offer excellent service, keeping “their cards” in mind at all times and constantly trying to out do themselves.
The benefits don’t stop there though—Hyken says managers should review the cards in regular meetings and highlight the best ones. They can then be used to create new standards of customer service for the store and maybe even be added to the employee handbook.
The takeaway? Get employees to try and outdo themselves in service by recognizing their best work.
Secret #3: Manage to Motivate
All too often in retail employees think of their job as a pit stop instead of as a stepping stone, which can lead to less than stellar work.
So managers need to find ways to motivate their employees. There are a wide range of options, from occasionally buying lunch for the staff to sales competitions (want more ideas? All Business has a list of 10 ways to motive your employees on the cheap).
One of those options is to promote from within whenever possible. Whether it’s choosing a new manager from within the existing sales force or encouraging members of the team to each become an expert on the products in a different section of the store, showing employees that their individual skills are recognized will led them to invest more in their performance.
The takeaway? Keep employees motivated by getting them to see their role in the store as an important part of their future.
Secret #4: Learn it to Earn it
The importance of ongoing education cannot be stressed enough.
Whether it’s having a team meeting focused on sales techniques and customer service or having a supplier stop by the store to give demos and discuss the latest new products, learning new things helps keep employees engaged.
But follow through is just as important. After employees learn something new managers need to check in to make sure they’ve understood what they’ve learned and understand how to apply it.
Role-playing, where the manager pretends to be a customer, can offer employees a chance to build skills then get direct feedback and suggestions on how to improve.
Managers should also regularly check employee’s product knowledge, asking them questions about both new products and those that have been around for a while.
The takeaway? Knowledge is power on the sales floor. Make sure employees are given the tools to succeed.
Secret #5: Create Consistency By Retaining A Good Team
Once you’ve done everything you can to create an excellent team, you don’t want to lose them.
High turnover is extremely costly both financially and in terms of customer service.
When staff changes regularly it’s hard to ensure that every team member understands what’s expected of them, is dedicated to providing a high level of service, values their job as a stepping stone instead of a pit stop and is thoroughly educated on the sales techniques the store uses and the products the store offers.
Fortunately, ensuring each of the first 4 secrets will create a culture of excellence that will help keep good employees invested and engaged, leading to lower turnover.
The takeaway? Creating a culture of excellence will truly impact every aspect of the store, improving everything from turnover to service.