Topic: Retail Sales

Retail Consultant Tip: What's Important To Train A Retail Manager

By Bob Phibbs

retail sales training managerAs a retail consultant I can assure you that choosing and training your retail store manager is your biggest task (after you train them to sell)in making sure your store runs smoothly on a daily basis.

On one hand, good managers are born and not made.

On the other hand, a great retail manager is both cut out for the job and properly trained.

Too often store owners promote a great salesperson or an other employee with seniority.

It’s easy to be tempted to reward a loyal and successful employee, but you aren’t doing anybody a favor to stick somebody in shoes they should not be trying to fill.

First, know their personality

Before we get into thinking about specific training, you should think about what personality type will excel as your manager. I have a free personality test that reveals a lot of important info about what roles some people were born to play.

A lot of good employees are Amiables. This personality style often struggles as a retail manager because they go too far trying to please people. They’ll need to reprimand employees and reinforce some work habits that are not always the most popular. Being a great assistant to you and accomplishing tasks does not involve the same skills as managing and encouraging employees on the fly.

Because the Amiable personality won't say it's too much, they often get overly stressed and quit-with no notice. It's not their fault, many were placed in a position they wanted to do well but lacked some of the skills that would have made them the right employee for the job as retail manager.

Next, train what is important

When you have the right person for the job, the key message during their training should be to focus on the big picture. Remember: the retail manager is not just a “super-employee” who is little more than a sales leader. Nor should they be a firefighter, running around constantly putting out fires.

We want them to look ahead to avoid fires, be able to expedite bottlenecks and have their head up at all times as to what is going on in your retail store. You want them to know who's waiting for a stock check, who is looking for a size, who has gone on break and should be back already.

Your retail store manager is the original multi-tasker. And still must be the main driver of your retail sales.

In addition to what is important to train, here are some more specific things to avoid in manager training:

  • “On-the-Job” training. There is far too much to focus on and absorb. Learning on the job is inefficient and lets the manager develop bad habits early.
  • Not training people skills. Someone with the perfect manager personality often needs to learn encouraging and motivating people skills.
  • Going in without a plan. Just like any other aspect of your business, you need a clearly identified and spelled out plan for how to train your managers.

Many feel the best person to mold is your manager will more often than not  a Driver personality style. That's because they naturally lead, take control and are well, driven.

Whoever you trust as your manager needs to be a self-starter who does not require daily oversight; someone you can trust to be professional and pragmatic while also capable of rolling with the punches and adapting to surprises.

Without ruining your day, your employees' day or your customers' day.

Your training of a manager is your chance to shape the culture of your retail store. That’s essentially your branding accomplished by the people working your salesfloor. What’s important is that they can understand the attitude you want to project, and can communicate that attitude to the staff while projecting it well themselves.

Up in the blimp

Your retail manager needs to be a big-picture person watching the game from up in the blimp. You don’t need a coach who runs on the field to grab the ball during a fumble, right?

Likewise, your best manager needs to see what causes a logjam at the register on a busy weekend or what section of the salesfloor is leaving customers unattended.

Or like the department store I visited during the holidays, notice a guy is standing in the women's dressing room for five minutes. (Don't gasp, they were all empty first.)

Most importantly, the manager should act as a leader who can make decisions that improve the staff’s efficiency rather than throwing themselves into the mix as if one extra pair of hands will solve everything.

I know, I used to be that guy when I first started...

In Sum

Your retail management skills begin with finding a manager for a department or the whole store, knowing their personality style and training them in what matters - not that they can do transfers correctly.

This is your chance to facilitate the whole staff’s ongoing success. If you’re unsure what to tell a new manager, you need a retail consultant to help identify the strengths and skills you need to develop.

I've got just the guy...

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