The 12 Worst Excuses for Not Training Retail Employees

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Most CEOs, owners, and managers of retail stores understand that employee training is a key factor in improving customer service, increasing sales, and reducing turnover.

Unfortunately, many retailers are still reluctant to invest the time and resources needed to train their employees properly and have a variety of reasons to justify that decision. After nearly thirty years of speaking with retailers about training their employees, I've heard a lot of them.

To help convince these holdouts that it pays off to train their teams, let’s take a look at some of the most common excuses and how to break through that negative thinking...

12 Unacceptable Reasons for Skimping on Retail Staff Training

  1. “We don't have enough money in the budget” – The truth is that you don’t need much money to provide employee training. You can start with small investments like e-learning modules you make yourself or an existing program. Even just setting aside twenty minutes in each team meeting for your staff to learn one aspect of how to improve the guest experience makes a difference over time.

  2. “We don’t have enough time” – This excuse is often used by those who mistakenly believe that all employee training must be done in one long session. However, providing smaller sessions or micro-learning activities throughout the month can be more effective while also freeing up more time in an employee’s schedule. Even if you like to bring your managers together for a new learning initiative, with staffing shortages the norm...the days of closing all the stores and herding all your teams to one location are over. 

  3. “Our employees already know what they need to do” – When a retailer assumes that their employees already know how to do everything correctly, it can lead to costly mistakes and missed opportunities for sales growth. They might have product knowledge, but that does not make an employee comfortable with face-to-face conversation. Even experienced employees should receive regular refreshers on best practices and new products so that they remain up-to-date on industry changes.

  4. “Employees will just forget what they learned anyway” – Although some retention issues are inevitable when it comes to learning new skills, there are steps you can take to ensure employees retain information, such as providing follow-up activities. The forgetting curve is real. If new information isn't applied, it can disappear within hours. Then all that remains is whatever bad habits they have picked up. Employees who are trained, given time to practice, and rewarded stay because their self-esteem directly relates to how confident they feel on the sales floor. 

  5. “It takes too long for our employees to become proficient” – With proper instruction and practice, most retail staff can quickly learn how to provide exceptional customer service within a few days of onboarding or product training sessions. Just changing the greeting they use will have an immediate effect on how customers respond to them and increase their confidence. It may take longer to master all of the processes required, but with consistent support, they will soon become competent and retain what they learned over time.

  6. “It doesn't make much of a difference if we train them or not" – That is the voice of a defeated retailer. Providing good customer service helps build loyalty and trust between customers and staff, which leads to increased repeat business as well as better reviews online.

  7. “My employees are not motivated enough." Training doesn't provide motivation. When an organization is sufficiently motivated to change, training assures everyone is on the same page. Motivation isn't something you can force on someone. Investing in training will help create motivation by giving your team more knowledge and confidence when it comes to their job roles and responsibilities.

  8. "We don't have any experts here." Don't let a lack of experience hold you back from investing in training. There are plenty of online resources available that can help provide the expertise you need to bring your current crew up to speed as well as to onboard any new employee without breaking the bank.

  9. “It's too much work." Training doesn't have to be an arduous process - there are plenty of ways you can make it fun. Consider having a weekly meeting with games or activities that help reinforce key concepts and ideas about customer service, product knowledge, etc., which will keep everyone engaged while still learning something valuable.

  10. "My team isn't interested." It might seem like a daunting task at first, but if you approach training from an exciting angle and offer incentives like rewards programs or promotions based on performance, this could spark interest among your team members.

  11. "We don't get enough feedback from customers." Customer feedback is an essential part of improving customer service, so make sure your staff is equipped with the skills needed to handle customer complaints/questions properly.

  12. "This won't help us sell more." This couldn't be further from the truth - well-trained retail staff knows how to provide exceptional customer service, which then leads directly to increased sales. The only way to reduce turnover, improve margins, develop leadership, and hold employees accountable is through adequate training.

In Sum

When it comes down to it, investing in employee training is essential for any business looking for success—especially one focused on retail sales. It's easy for managers and owners alike to come up with excuses not to invest in their team's education, but we've debunked those excuses so there's no reason why you shouldn't take advantage of every opportunity possible when looking into proper employee training methods. So go ahead: take the initiative and watch your profits soar.

And if you've had enough of your own excuses and are willing to change your culture so that your employees look forward to coming in, engaging shoppers, and having fun at work, please check out, my online retail sales training program. 

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