Keeping the Customer Satisfied

Attention serious business owners and managers!!

Do you ever monitor your staff to see if they are actually keeping your customers satisfied?

Yes, satisfied!  (If you don’t remember Simon & Garfunkel’s song, Keep the Customer Satisfied, no wonder customer service is waning in many industries and individual businesses!)

I stopped at a home improvement store last week at 7:00 AM.  The outside garbage cans are overflowing to the ground and I couldn’t get a core exchange quickly either.  The cashier called someone to grab me a receipt for the core.  Since she had my credit card, she actually apologized using my first name and asked if I need anything else.  She knew just how to handle a somewhat impatient customer!  She apologized for the floor manager since he didn’t.  She needs a promotion!

I was also in an electronics store last week.  Apparently, I was absolutely invisible!  No one greeted me and I walked around the entire store and the employees were mainly talking among themselves.  I walked in ready to make a purchase and not one employee cared!  Mr. Manager, you need a refresher course in customer service or you may find yourself unemployed.

If you don’t have a training program in your store to teach new employees the necessary product knowledge, procedures, and cleanliness then I can tell you how to improve immediately.  Take your best operational employee and promote them to teach new hires how to treat clients if those clients come back and patronize your business you better do something before you chase away long term clients.

If you take the time to install this training style, I guarantee you will have clients praising your business, not complaining about your lack of professionalism.

After 35 years in retail management, I found what motivated employees and customers loved the service and knowledge.  Whether I was in the store or not, the employees gave the same service to everyone no matter the size of the sale.  By instilling customer service in all employees, you do need to constantly remind where weaknesses may be and fix it immediately!  Your clients will love your store and your employees.

Call me at Professional Employment Practices, (701) 751-1500, if you would like more information.  You will love the changes!

The Importance of Integrity, Pride & Honesty in the Workplace

Keeping integrity in our staff and help to improve standards in the world! 

This sounds like an impossible task doesn’t it?

So, where do we draw the line?

We let the Patriots off a few years ago when they were caught spying on the competitors playbook.  Now, Tom Brady kind of admitted of knowing about the deflation of the footballs in the Super Bowl.  If the League would have not tolerated the first act of cheating (that we know of!) then maybe the second act of cheating wouldn’t have happened.

I always educated future managers in their months that confrontation doesn’t have to be screaming and hollering in an employee’s face to point out wrong doings.  But you do indeed need to address anything that was immoral and/or dishonest, for the company and the clients!  If bad behaviors, dishonesty, and breaking company policies are ignored, I guarantee you will have another incident in the future, if not from the original culprit who you’re reprimanding, but from another employee that thought they could also get away with breaking the policy as well.

As employers, we need to keep our head high, eliminate behaviors that don’t belong in a work environment and hold all employees to these standards.  You too need to follow the standards and set expectations for all.

America is running out of heroes except for our military heroes and I hope one day we won’t have to put anyone through war to set examples.  Let’s clean up society, constantly watch what we do and the examples we set.  Let us put pride back into the United States.  Let’s put integrity, pride, honesty and hard work back into our routine vocabulary, starting TODAY!

Preparing New Hires

Attention business owners and/or managers!  Be honest now, no cheating or exaggerating allowed!  How soon do you start educating new hires on procedures and customer service?  Most employers seem to think new hires shouldn’t be undergoing any of this type of training unless they have been indoctrinated into the company mission statement, the history of the company, etc.

I have always made sure that if an employee was needed to fill an opening or expansion in an area of the company, they need to be self-sufficient in something the very first day of work.  Something simple enough to be able to learn quickly yet take a load off other staff members so they can keep the other clients happy and the company profitable.

If you indeed hired an above average employee, this employee will expect to be somewhat operationally sound and self-sufficient on at least one if not more steps to keep the selling pace going forward.  If you don’t teach them the pertinent steps to be effective and efficient, use your most operationally sound employee to teach the new employee the many important steps any new employee needs to know.

Some hints to make this learning process easier that always worked for me and gave me more time to spend with new hires:

  • Don’t start an employee on a Monday.  Mondays are hectic enough so don’t try to enlighten a new hire on this first day of the work week.
  • When you bring the new employee in on Tuesday, only schedule them for about five or maybe 6 hours tops.  Remember when you would start a new job and you just stood around waiting for someone to show you something that you will need to know.  I would spend 5 hours with new hires  pointing out my pet peeves to keep us all productive and clients happy.  Then turn the new employee over to your most operationally sound employee to introduce the new hire to all employees.  After introductions have been let the employee be done for the day because the first day is so draining.  And make sure they know they should be ready to learn more tomorrow.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the buddy system for all remaining necessary training.  Use your best employee in the new hires department to educate new hires.

I know this sounds too simple, but it really does start the new hire on the right foot and make sure that they don’t develop the habit of standing around waiting for you to teach them something.  Try it!  Properly done, not only will you love the change but so will your new hire.

Educate Your Staff For Your Clients Benefit & Your Employees Self Esteem

I don’t think that too many employers know how to satisfy their clients and retain their staff.   I was in a big box store last week, you know the stores with the cash register that clients have to use instead of employees, and I watched five clients wait in line to check out.  The cashier was friendly, quick and very helpful BUT as I looked at the last register I saw that a cashier was just standing by that register waiting as a client rang themselves out.  WHAT?!  If the supervisor really cared about their clients, that cashier stading by a register hoping that no customer was going to “bother” them would not stand there while five clients waited in line for one cashier to take care of them.

If I was the general manager of that store, I would be embarrassed beyond belief!  How does something that easy to correct, go on and on?  Because too many employers do not give an educational meeting to their employees explaining what to do to make clients want to come back.  The employees look like they don’t know or care what they are doing.  Instead, they should be working to make themselves feel good and help the clients get in, get out and go on their way.

The sad part, is I see employees standing around in too many businesses and not have a clue how to be productive.  Where are the managers and proprietors of these businesses?  You need to address these issues and build your staff up to making decisions to help clients each and every time.

Employers, you aren’t helping yourself or your sales when your staff has no idea how to give quality customer service and gain proud productive employees at the same time.  Not to mention the lost profits and loss of potential clients.

I challenge you, if you have these problems to fix them so you too can have proud productive employees!  Do it today!

Re-Evaluating the Employee Shortage

Over the last six months, we have been hearing more and more about the critical employee shortage.  As I drive by some of the businesses the signs state, “labor shortage.”  This isn’t something new as the economy waxes and wanes.  I have seen this many times in the 30 years I was a retailer.  However, it is more serious now than any other time in the last thirty years.

As I drove by some of these businesses yesterday, I suddenly realized that there may not be as much of an employee shortage as we think.  Am I calling everyone a liar?  Absolutely not!  However, if after thirty years you are still trying to run the business in the same manner as you did in 1984 that is where the problems may lie.  Changes have been made in almost all industries in the last thirty years.  Most retailers aren’t ordering on order sheets and mailing anymore.  Computers are capable of ordering stock now.  In hotels and motels it is possible to be using  robotic vacuum cleaners to free up staff.  As was my experience in San Antonio where employees greeted guests with a smile.  If I looked confused the employees asked me where I was trying to go and gave me directions.  I rarely see that service anymore in that industry!  What I am getting to, is if we haven’t progressed to improve efficiencies in 30 years, we probably are short of employees.  If you have read my past blogs you would see that I have spoken of cross training.  Again, if you aren’t doing that then currently start TODAY!

Every time I moved to take over a different retail store, you would be amazed  at how often I would invariably hear , “we have always done it this way” when it came to why projects were completed a certain way.  I would explain, if it doesn’t improve profits, make it easier for the clients to make a purchase or save us time and effort then it needs to be changed immediately to accommodate these factors.

Think about it.  We may not be as short on employees as we think we are.  We may just not be taking advantage of current employee talents, using technology when it makes sense and starting an employee development system that emphasizes team work, great client service and adds dollars to the bottom line.

Try it, you may never go back to the old way!

The Value of Thinking Ahead When Hiring & Training

I really think, now more than ever, especially if your business is in the state of North Dakota, it is imperative that employers just don’t hire the first warm body that applies for any position.  Even with the shortage of qualified employees right now, I still can’t justify adding a “just” a body.

I know I have watched retailers promote the sales person to Store Manager.  These two jobs require two different skill sets.  One would hope that a Store Manager is a fine sales person so as to not only keep sales on target but also train staff members on how to close a sale with plenty of confidence and product knowledge to keep the customer satisfied.

Every business owner needs to have a hiring strategy and we must continue to cross train employees so you are never short of experts in your business.  This is especially critical for what you may see as a future manager in your organization.  Work now at developing key employees in your organization to make sure you are never in a bind in the near future by either having a lack of help or worse yet, lack of experienced help.

Any time I hired a new person for either an existing position or for a newly created position I would access each of my employees abilities and try to anticipate what employee needs the next twelve months would bring if we were to upgrade our staff.  Remember, you should always be striving to improve or eliminate the worst 20% of your staff for continual improvement.

I don’t know many employers that like hiring staff members.  What is not to like?  You are hoping to bring in employees that will fill a needed position or maybe even change your company’s culture.  I am not just blowing smoke!  From 1987 to 1998, I trained 17 out of 19 trainees successfully enough that they were promoted at least twice in their positions.  Most of these future managers came with no management experience but did have a desire to be a successful manger in their career.  I would make sure that these trainees worked in every segment of the business.  Many people say, managers only need to manage staff.  Really?  If management doesn’t know procedures, equipment operation and how to keep staff productive, motivated and happy, your business will not continue to flourish in the future.

I hope you can see the advantages of actually planning ahead to create a staff and management team to keep customers satisfied and coming back for more.

Training Employees Properly Does Truly Matter

I wish, when I see bizarre articles printed in the publications that I read, I would find out the author’s name and ask how much they paid for the research behind some these “perplexing” issues.

The article that set me off last week stated, “Lack of new employee training effects profits.”  Really?  Is this something that just developed in the last year?  Have we, as consumers, become so accustomed to virtually no service that we buy merchandise without needing assistance at all?  I doubt it!  Have we, as employers, forgot how to create an operationally sound team that keeps clients coming back for their future needs?  These clients will then hopefully refer friends and neighbors to your first rate establishment.

As employers, we must understand the need to replicate ourselves within each member of the staff.  You need to create loyalty in all employees if you want to have an experienced team that will watch out for you as well as your clients.  Is your crew the best it can be?

If you are interested in creating your best possible team then join us for our hiring seminar to finely hone your hiring techniques.  These seminars are free and limited to the first ten businesses that enroll.  The next “Hiring Techniques” seminar will be Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm.  Call and reserve your spot today, (701) 751-1500.

Cross Training Can Not Be Skipped!

If  you have followed our blog in the last 13 months, today’s blog is basically a repeat.  Besides a great interviewing process, where you ask pertinent questions to allow you to know as much about your candidates, what is a great addition to your hiring process?  I truly don’t think we can ever skip this vital step in our organization.  The answer is cross training our employees with a documented process.

If we aren’t cross training our employees then we are asking for staffing shortages in our organizations.  We all know, at times, the labor force is so under populated that we have a difficult time finding competent  for some positions.  Don’t wait until we need that position filled and then panic and hire the first warm body that applies.  Then, we try to convince ourselves that this person should work out fine.  It rarely does!  I feel this is one of the most crucial staff development systems that we can do for our clients as well as keeping our sanity and apprehension in check.

Cross training team members gives you more expertise when staff member(s) are out on vacation or extended leave.  A cross training program properly laid out, will make sure your clients are getting the same expertise and care as they would if the original team member wasn’t out.

If you are interested in a hiring seminar to finely hone your skills on hiring techniques from the past and the present, call Professional Employment Practices.  These seminars are free and limited to the first ten businesses that enroll.  The next Hiring Techniques seminar will be held on Thursday, July 24, 2014, at 3:30 pm.  Give me a call today to ensure your spot, (701) 751-1500.

Training, Service & Knowledge…The Missing Pieces

Have you noticed all the large box retailers that currently do not have a CEO in place?  Ironically, in my opinion these are also some of the retailers that are having problems generating sales increases and have little or no customer service.  It makes you wonder where all the experience has gone.  Far too many stores don’t fit the retail store mold of the past nor are they positioning themselves for the future.

Do retail establishments even have training programs anymore?  If so, is it actually benefiting the clients and the profitability of the organization?  As I shop for my necessities and supplies, I don’t see many retail establishments that give you the WOW experience.  I am rarely impressed by service or knowledge of employees.  We can’t keep settling for poor service and it’s a trend that I would like to change soon.

I think now is the time that the independent business owners could fill the missing gaps in service and knowledge.  I say, if we all hire effectively, train the new hires and give them expectations then we could all have a profitable run while big box retailers try to fight their way out of their slump.  In the meantime, let’s capitalize on our strengths and their weaknesses.

If you are interested in a hiring seminar to finely hone your skills on hiring techniques from the past and the present then call Professional Employment Practices.  The first ten businesses that enroll will receive a free seminar.  Call us today, (701) 751-1500.

Taking Charge of Building Your Team

We all know how difficult it is to find enough good quality employees in our environment in North Dakota.  But rather than devise a training program to make sure that all new employees are given a lot of direction, a company culture overview, and a job description that is precise yet not too long.  Most of all, Team Member expectations must be given before the prospect is hired.

We must stop settling for what employees we can find rather than what employees we can develop.  Why would we do this to ourselves and more importantly, our clients?  I was trying to pick up a part from a retailer at 12:10 pm and there were five people  waiting for one person to serve all their needs.  After waiting twenty minutes, I left.  I later called the manager about the shoddy service and she said there were two people that should have been at the desk.  Should have been!?

We as business owners, cannot play the big shot and sit back in our office and assume the client is being taken care of.  If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.  I know from personal experience that we can rarely sit back on our laurels and assume that the staff no longer needs direction.  Once expectations are being met, clients are happy with the service and knowledge of the staff.  In turn, your staff is staying productive and they like their roles within the company.  Congratulations.

However, please be aware that you need to have some sort of staff development system to keep the organization and staff moving in the same consistent direction.  Complacency breeds carelessness, bad attitudes and unrest.  Keep the pride going and keep your clients coming back again and again!