How To Reduce Retail Employee Turnover

By Bob Phibbs

retail employee turnoverFor CEOs and hiring managers, retail employee turnover can quickly turn into a black hole that devours profits.

No matter the number of shops you oversee, losing employees isn’t just an inconvenience, it attacks your bottom line on multiple fronts by:

  • Wasting the money you spent on the hiring process.
  • Wasting the money and time you spent on training.
  • Costing sales as less experienced replacements are brought on board.
  • Costing any customers that may feel loyal to exiting salespeople. 

All of these issues consume your two most precious resources - time and money. Maintaining and maximizing revenues requires maintaining your experienced salesforce and maximizing the return on your investment in them.

It Comes With Age

One of the biggest problems you face as a CEO has to do with the age of your salesforce.  You know that...

They are, overwhelmingly, comprised of members of the Millennial generation. This is a generation that doesn’t care about interpersonal face-to-face experiences, brand value, or business loyalty.

They’ve been schooled that retail is all about price, location and speed.

Beyond that, your salesforce is increasingly composed of people who don’t want what you provide and don’t care about jumping ship at a moment’s notice.

Previous generations often stayed with a company for decades. Millennials will quit a job to go on Spring Break in Cancun, simply assuming that they can get another thankless job when they get back.

And, too often, they’re right.

What do You Offer Employees?

While a lot of retailers are increasing their entry-level pay, this isn’t about the money.

If it came down to wages alone, nobody would work retail. Ever.

Or would ever have worked in a shop. Ever.

So, why do so many choose this career?

A lot of people, even Millennials, really do like helping people. It may not be their cup of tea when they’re shopping, but everybody likes to feel useful.

Other people like the fringe benefits. They like being challenged, they like store discounts, they like working with products they personally use or they like having some control over their earnings in the form of commissions.

Whatever the reasons, people choose to work in a retail store hoping to be engaged and rewarded.

If all they’re doing is standing around like drones, it isn’t long until they rocket away to something more interesting on their smartphone - something like Planet Facebook, Planet Instagram or Planet Tinder.

Engagement Through Training

Aside from offering an unsupportable wage, how do you engage interest and reduce associate turnover?

What do you offer your team that they can’t get from any one of a hundred other retailers in your area? If you’re smart, you offer them the tools and knowledge they need to be helpful, be engaged, and feel rewarded. If all you offer is minimum wage, you need to give them life skills they can’t get anywhere else.

That’s much more than how to stock a shelf or do an inventory check...

Out of Hiding, and Onto the Sales Floor

A big part of high turnover is a lack of confidence in the sales force.

Lack of confidence stems directly from a lack of comprehensive, actionable training. They don’t feel good about what they are doing, possibly about themselves, and certainly their ability to engage strangers.

Unfortunately, manager coaching is at an all-time low, resulting in as much as 85% of employees’ sales skills never being adequately tapped to drive sales performance; those associates are reduced to little more than warehouse workers.

A few hours or minutes of ad-hoc training with whomever-happens-to-be-free-at-the-moment won’t cut it.

You need a dependable, repeatable system for training associates the soft skills of how to build rapport and engage strangers, not just ask, “Can I help you?”

See also, 8 Reasons Why Your Turnover Is So High 

In Sum

Without the confidence that comes from robust sales training, your employees will end up hiding out in break rooms, playing with their smartphones, or standing around in the felon pose with their hands firmly clasped behind their backs bored out of the minds.

Once that happens, they’re not helpful, they’re not engaged, and they won’t feel rewarded.

But they will be looking for the exit at the earliest opportunity.

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