The Retail Doctor's Blog


Attract, Close & Delight Your Customers

How Can Retailers Stop Creating Angry Employees?

Bob Phibbs

Retail traffic is slowing.

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Topics: Retail Sales, Employee Management

Can You Pay A Living Wage To Your Retail Employees?

Bob Phibbs

Recently, Gap raised their minimum wage for their retail employees to $9 an hour for all of their brands; next June, they will raise it to $10.

IKEA too has just announced that on Jan.1, their rate will jump to $10.76 an hour.

To put that in perspective, that is 48% higher than the federal minimum.

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Topics: Retail Sales, Retail Hiring, Minimum wage

How To Choose The Right Retail Sales Training For Your Store

Bob Phibbs


Congratulations for reading this – it means you don’t have to be convinced that training your retail crew how to sell is necessary.  

You understand that training is something you do – ongoing – like an athlete working to perfect their form, not something you did – once –  like visiting the City of Mermaids in Florida.

Good. Most retailers know they have to train new hires at some level. The best know they have to constantly train their entire staff.

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Topics: Retail Sales Training, online retail training

Retailers: The Most Conspicuous Thing You’re Not Doing

Bob Phibbs

Retailers keep surprising me.

The music is pumped-up in their stores to try to fill the quiet, sterile environment where employees linger with Bluetooth gadgets in their ears.

Outside of the counter area, I rarely see anyone actually working with a customer.

Merchandise displays are often perfect (and untouched,) yet they are littered with signage offering discounts of 20-40%.

This is a picture of a struggling retailer… not a successful one.

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Topics: Retail Sales, Marketing, Retail Sales Training, Employee Management

Small Business Owners, Would You Fire You?

Bob Phibbs

If you own a business, you have had to terminate employees. You had assessed their behaviors and found them taking more away than adding to your customers' enjoyment of doing business with you.

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Topics: Retail Sales, Small Business, Employee Management

How To Market Your Retail Business

Bob Phibbs

When retailers decide to get away from couponing, a wonderful thing happens. Value is defined. More customers walk in. Sales increase.

I've been preaching this for nearly twenty years. So I was intrigued when Clark Hermanson, one of my Facebook fans emailed me several of his ads the business had previously run in the Chicago Tribune.

Much like any other nursery center, the same marketing formula had been used to create each ad. They all offered sale prices on featured sponsors’ chemicals and then a bit of generic text highlighting their own in-season items.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with these ads, except everyone in nursery and garden centers is doing the exact same thing.

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Topics: Retail Sales, Marketing

For Retailers on the Edge of Adding Commission as Incentive

Bob Phibbs

Ron Johnson, formerly with JC Penney, ending retail sales commissions for his staff in fine jewelry, shoes, window coverings, men's suits, and hair salons shortly after he took over.

He said, “I know with every bone in my body that a non-commissioned sales force will create better customer service, better teamwork over time.”

According to the Wall Street Journal article, JCP spokeswoman Kate Coultas added, “Our new business model requires that we move away from a commission-based environment so that every team member is motivated by meeting the needs of our customers."

Every time I hear that somehow retail employees who receive no commission deliver better customer service, I want to puke.

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Topics: Retail Sales, Retail Sales Training

Get A Small Business Line Of Credit Before You Need It

Bob Phibbs

I’ve had a small business bank account with Bank of America for over twenty years. When I had setup the account, they simply asked, “Do you want an overdraft line of credit?” I answered yes and thousands of dollars were placed at my disposal.

That all changed this winter when BofA sold several branches around Albany to another bank.

Retailers: Check out more of my cash flow tips here.

Since I had to get a new account, I chose a local community bank. I opened the account and then asked, “Where’s the box to check to get an overdraft line of credit?”

“We don’t work that way,” I was told.

That was an understatement.

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Topics: Financials

How A Retail Store Can Change The World

Bob Phibbs

I believe the lack of service, of compassion and interest in retail are symptoms of a larger problem in our world.

I believe:

People are feeling more and more isolated.

Less noticed.

Less validated.

More intolerant.

More judgmental.

I believe we can change the world, and that we must start with the world of retail, by changing the attitudes of people... on both sides of the sales counter.

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Topics: Retail Sales, Customer Service, Motivation, Business, Retail

Retail Store Employees Aren’t Stupid, Just Untrained

Bob Phibbs

From the retail store employee who hates his manager and quits on Facebook, to the frustrated customer who can’t find anyone to help her in store, there seems to be a lot of contempt for anyone working in retail these days.

I attended a Saturday workshop of hotel managers learning how to increase their sales. The trainer, pretending to be an event organizer, had been calling local properties. To each front desk agent, he became a different customer. He asked about features of the area, corporate discounts and even hosting events.

It was obvious he was trying to trip the employees up with exceptional circumstances and requests. We listened over a speakerphone to the ineffective responses by whoever had the misfortune to be working that Saturday morning.

He enjoyed showing how his questions flummoxed them. Before picking up the phone yet again, he stated that such bad employees would lead to lower sales. His point was that these managers had hired stupid employees.

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Topics: Retail Sales

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