My team and I have been working with a group of retailers these past few weeks, analysing their stores and identifying opportunities to improve their results.
One of the common challenges across all six businesses (and categories as diverse as homewares, beauty, hospitality and gifts) is how to maintain motivation and customer service levels when the business owner isn’t present.
Let’s face it – as a business owner, you can’t be in your business every day. In fact, we usually recommend the business owner spend LESS time working in the business and more time working on the business.
So how do you ensure that your team are delivering consistently above average levels of service, even if you decide to take off and lie in a hammock in Bora Bora for three weeks?
After owning, growing and selling five businesses over the past two decades, one thing I’ve learnt is that everyone is a unique individual, with their own agendas, hot buttons and motivations.
Although it’s easy to assume that everyone is incentivized simply by money, that’s not always the case. Yes, having an incentive scheme for your staff can help, but it’s only part of the story. For your staff to stay motivated, keen and dedicated to achieving consistently above-average retailing results, they need more than a little extra cash.
Here’s a simple seven-step process to ensure you cover off the different motivations of your team. You’ll learn over time who gets a kick out of what and if you cover off the majority of these regularly, you can refine what works for your mix of team members over time.
- Direct recognition – from you or other leaders
For some people there’s nothing more motivating than having their leader or manager catching them doing the right thing, or acknowledging great results.
The psychology of praise is an interesting one and I’ve read lots of different studies that reveal that the number one complaint of de-motivated staff is lack of recognition.
As business owners sometimes we’re so caught up in the day-to-day demands of running a successful business that we forget to
Now you might think “well my staff doing the right thing is really just them doing their job! Why should I have to recognise them!?” And that may be true, but a little bit if recognition goes a long way. Singling someone out and praising them when they make a great sale or really go the extra mile in a retail sales scnenario will increase the chances of them doing it again.
As human beings, we’re programmed to repeat behavior that we’re rewarded for, not just in a monetary sense, but also in an emotional sense. When you praise your staff and give them that well done pat on the back, a chemical reaction takes place in their brain. Dopermine levels, which is the happy hormone in the brain, increase. These levels can stay elevated for a few hours so not only does recognition make your team member feel good, they’ll more than likely bring a happy and enthusiastic demeanor to the retailing experience for their next client.
- Group Recognition
You’ll find that a little competition goes a long way and being acknowledged in front of their peers in a team meeting or get-together can be a real hot button for some people. Singling out someone’s performance can not only make them feel recognized and valued, if you accompany it with the detailabout what they did that was so incredible, it will hopefully inspire the rest of your team to follow suit and step up to perform at that higher level.
While your team members will generally be excited by cash, sometimes a thoughtful gift means more than a crisp fifty dollar note.
Giving a gift to reward ‘retailing rockstar’ behavior has a higher degree of emotion attached to it. It says you’ve thought about it, considered that person and bought something with them in mind. That will often say much more than pulling cash out of the till.
So even if you do have a cash-based incentive scheme, consider over-riding that every now and again with a physical reward in the form of a present. Tapping into the art of gift-giving can inspire a level of motivation in your team that money just can’t buy.
- A Stretch Target
In addition to cash commissions on product sales, consider tapping into the competitive spirit of your team by offering a quarterly incentive or prize such as an all expenses paid trip to an industry event or conference. Sell the dream and market the incentive with excitement, emotion and wow factor.
Offering a quarterly incentive like this, over and above cash commissions and including an element of professional development, will give you a good insight into which team members are motivated to learn, grow and develop their skills. Anyone not excited by this type of reward is a red flag for you. And best of all, this is a totally tax-deductible strategy.
- A Group Target
While friendly rivalry is great, it’s great to balance it with a sense of team spirit. As well as individual goals, establish a monthly team goal, in consultation with them. By engaging your staff members in this process as a collective, they not only feel involved and engaged, but they have a sense of ownership. If they have been involved in setting the target, they’re far more likely to reach it. And have some fun with this one and make the reward a group activity – maybe a lunch a dinner or a fun team activity.
- Ongoing Training and Feedback
This is a step I see a lot of business owners skipping and it’s easy to overlook. But it’s a key ingredient for a motivated, happy, communicative team.
Ensure there is a regular review and critiquing of their performance so they are encouraged to improve and develop their skills. Sitting down with your staff members individually on a regular basis to review their retailing results also gives them the opportunity to raise any challenges they might be having and for you to mentor them, encourage them and highlight some key areas for them to focus on.
- Make them Brand Advocates
This sounds like a simple and obvious question but are your team members also clients of your retail store? Are they able to recommend products with first-hand knowledge and experience?
This is something I admit I overlooked in my last retail business — a day spa — until I observed a therapist showing a client a product and overheard six words that made me cringe …
‘I haven’t tried it myself but …’
I then realised that our staff weren’t being incentivised or even encouraged to be brand advocates for the very products they were selling! Crazy, right? Once it was rectified it made a massive difference.
First hand experience will always ensure they sell with maximum passion, confidence and believability. Consider combining this strategy with number three or even the reward as a group goal – if they hit their team goal, they can each choose a product or two.
Try it and observe the difference it makes to how your team recommends and sells your products.