Retail Training - Don’t Make Customers Storm Your Castle, er Counter


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Oftentimes retailers hire people less comfortable out on the sales floor and more comfortable behind the wall of the counter, in particular Amiables. That’s why I refer to the counter as the castle.

A castle is a safe place for these salespeople to stand, fortified to withstand the attack of customers.

Do you want service? Come to the castle and we may lower the bridge to give you the answers, otherwise, you’ll stand in the moat until we are ready for you.

Have you ever seen something in a store that looked interesting, then noticed the employees behind the counter on their cellphones or looking bored and decided to walk on? I have.

When a store is empty, it is much harder for that first person to walk in because they feel all eyes are on them. They are afraid of three things:

     1. Being attacked by an overly aggressive greeter.
     2. Being ignored and unable to find what they need.
     3. Being judged.

Timid employees will compound these fears by remaining behind the castle. Er, counter.

Get your employees out from behind the counter and keep them active, especially if you have windows.

Customers outside need to see people inside trying on clothes, matching prints, perusing books, comparing products so they will want to be part of the group. If you don’t have any customers at that time, have employees act as if they were customers.

That way customers will feel more comfortable walking in as they won't see a group of employees just hanging out behind the counter.

But this isn't just for retail, if you've just opened a restaurant with an outdoor patio and no one is there at lunch – put some of your staff on the patio with food until it is busy.

If your auto repair bay is empty, have an employee put their car up on a lift so they will be available when someone comes in or people see you as busy when they drive by.

Get the idea?

Here are five tips to make the castle less comfortable:

  • Remove any seats or stools
  • Remove comfort pads or rugs off the concrete floor
  • Make both sides open and accessible
  • Cut the counter in half so it is more of a desk
  • Move the phone


If you've trained them well, salespeople are never behind the counter waiting; telegraphing the world how bored they are. They are active, moving around all the time creating excitement, not barricaded behind the castle.

To learn more about growing your business, read The Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business (Wiley)