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!

Ask the Right Questions & Improve Your Clients’ Experiences

Last week, I went on a business trip that included some vacation time as well.  I had two concerns on the trip…

I have never been one to take week long vacations, but apparently as we age or become busier in our professions we do indeed need to have some downtime.  I came back more invigorated and on top of things than I had been for the couple of weeks.

I plan on doing more of the mini vacations as well to keep the mind clear.  These little getaways open my mind and help me to solve some issues that perhaps I couldn’t get down to the bottom of some of these things prior to the week-long sabbatical.

I did also find that having stayed in 5 hotels in six days that apparently hotel owners don’t have their employees ask if everything was OK with their stay.  Some hotels allegedly offer a free nights’ stay if you encountered any problems at all.  These hotels didn’t ask if our stay was acceptable.  I guess if they don’t ask, we can’t tell them there were indeed problems and you would like a free night stay.

Maybe if we as business owners would also remember to ask if our clients are happy with the service they received and in turn, the clients would open up and let us know where our weaknesses lie.  I would prefer clients tell me what I need to do better than to lose them as clients because we weren’t asking the right questions in trying to determine where our clients’ needs really were met or not.  Think about it and I think you will agree.


Creating Your Ultimate Staff With Our Help

Look outside the box, break unproductive habits and you may just learn to love your new routine that is actually making things happen in your business like never before.  I have been swamped at work not only helping my clients in Bismarck but across four states as well.  Sometimes, you want to shout in frustration BUT that’s why we are in business, correct?

I am, however, confused why we would complain about too much business and not able to find experienced staff.  Of course you can’t, but you get to train staff (you educate employees, you train dogs!).  Don’t bury your head in the sand!  Call our office and I can give you helpful hints.

I have managed retail staff for 37 years.  I also educated 17 out of 19 manager trainees successfully from 1986 to 1999 in an average of 5 months per candidate.  I can help you turn out better employees and have them perform as you would like and need them to perform.

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!

Is it Really Just About Finding Good Employees? NO!

I hear one common thread from most retailers in the last six months, “You just can’t find good help these days.”  I have heard that for so many tears I could scream!

Let me give you a prime example:  I was reading the Wall Street Journal and a major retailer had one or more branches that were asking employees to call in before they come into the late shift or to stay longer if it gets really busy.  If businesses really think you are going to build a loyal staff pulling stunts like the above then it is no wonder employees are getting fussier where they work and they work they do.

On the other hand, I know people really don’t learn many trades in schools anymore.  In other words, employers are going to need to hire someone with basic skills and teach them your culture, policies, procedures, and basically teach them all the tools to keep your customers satisfied.

Before you start to disagree with the last statement, wouldn’t you want to know that your employees were educated specifically for your industry, store location, culture and you know it works.  You and your staff have been running the business effectively and you know that this combination of training has been very effective because you still continue to have clients coming to your store to experience the shopping, trade, professional advice, etc.  You have worked to make the clients’ presence a thing of value and the clients keep coming back because they are confident that your staff will continue to be informative, helpful and always be there to help.

Develop a cross training plan and implement it immediately, if you are looking to keep the most helpful staff in town in your industry.  From my past experiences, your clients will love these changes.  Do it 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.

Taking an Introspective Look at Our Own Company & Service

Let us all check customer service in our community this week.  Let us make sure we are absorbing what we, as well as our staff, are saying to your clients.

It’s easy to criticize other companies and their staff.  Let’s make sure we are scrutinizing our own staff as well as ourselves for a week.  Are we doing what we say we need to do for our clients and actually doing what we say?  Or are we blowing smoke and missing our goals for our service level by more than 10%?

Document the good performers or acts and have a sit down meetings with those offenders and discuss areas of improvement that must be met if they are to remain employed with your organization.  In some cases, you will suddenly realize you never covered this topic with not only the person sitting in front of you but maybe other employees as well.  In which case, you should not threaten termination for the poor performers, but rather start a plan to correct this shortfall immediately with all employees.  So don’t reprimand until you accumulate some information and see if your staff ignored you or you did a poor job in the educational process prior to this epiphany!

I was in two stores last week that are in competition with each other.  Not a soul greeted me in either location, nor asked if I needed help.  Apparently, upper management in these major corporations are fine with the outcome because both companies have had customer service issues for years.  Yes, years!  I wonder how long before they both go through bankruptcy?

Make upgrading you and your staff a priority NOW.  Don’t wait!  We want our staff to be top notch NOW!  If you aren’t able to upgrade the staff you have 100% then it might be time to do some hiring to find the people personality you are looking for.  Try it…You will like it!

Let me know the procedures you went through to get the staff you have always wanted.  I would love to talk to you about your results.

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!

Creating an Operationally Sound Human Resource Department

I saw a headline on some email magazine that employees in the Human Resource occupation are leaving the industry in fairly high numbers.  Due to lack of time, I didn’t read any of the articles, but from my years in management I think I may know a few of the reasons that the Human Resource industry is suffering.

I am not picking on the Human Resource industry or any employees in that industry with my comments.  I am only pointing out the observations from my own experiences.

I can’t say that many human resource specialists are operationally sound, which if it is true, in most cases, it is not their fault but rather the employer’s oversight.  If Human Resource (HR) members have never been introduced to their employer’s industry then how is the HR person going to add value to employees and the company and be able to point out the good, the bad and the ugly.

In my store management days, I trained future managers.  Sixteen out of the 18 managers were promoted at least twice after the training program, which usually lasted 4 months for each trainee, before they were competent to run a profitable, successful location.  If we aren’t putting HR staff through a training program to show them goals, ways to improve procedures, productivity, learning the functions of each position, safety factors, and much more.  How is that HR person going to perform effectively and add value, production and improve the general operation and staff?

Most businesses have district managers, sales managers and other positions that really only teach people how to move product and services.  They may also enforce business standards so the business in question is clean, organized, helpful, etc.  Seldom are sales managers great leaders or teachers from my experience.  Start HR staff in a training program so they can add true value to an operation and I can almost guarantee improvements in your business.  They will limit employee accidents, reduce sick leave, improve employee attitude and provide a solid base of employees that will work for you.  A good HR employee isn’t as worried about products as they are of producing good quality employees that will treat your company as if it was their own.  Be sure you bring in HR staff and get input from them at sales meetings as well.  Upper management needs to pick HR’s brains to solve what may have been ongoing staff problems.

Do not procrastinate; fix these employee problems quicker with an operationally sound HR department.  Start today and be  more profitable tomorrow!

Revitalize Your Team with Excellent Leaders

Back in my retail days, I was promoted to a larger store in a chain than what I had been used to and this meant there were a few products I may not have been well versed in.  As I spoke to the outgoing manager, I was asking a few questions on the staff, facility, products and other things I didn’t have the answers for after being in the store for about 4 hours.  Rather than answer my questions, the outgoing manager said, “This store really runs itself.”  The only thing that answer told me was that the manager was nothing more than figurehead and not a leader.  I am not saying that as a leader you need to be riding hard on the staff but it was apparent  in this case, the manager wasn’t involved in many, if any, of the daily activities in this branch.  I will say, staff was fairly productive but not as productive as they became after they received a little training and reminders on the importance of customer service.

That any manager would say a store runs itself reflects how unimportant the staff’s education and training are to them.  I assume, their clients’ needs fall into the same category as the staff’s education and training as well.  Let’s not catch ourselves training our staff to be mediocre!

If you are interested in revitalizing your team, give Professional Employment Practices (PEP) a call, (701) 751-1500.  You won’t be sorry and your clients will see the difference.