Working in retail is a very specific job that requires a special skill set that might not be as easy to find as many believe. The perfect retail worker has to be responsible and trustworthy, obviously. But above all, people skills are more important in retail than just about any other line of work.
The better your team is, the easier it will be to sell your products, keep your store running smoothly and most importantly, keep your customers happy and coming back regularly.
But at the same time, the retail industry is one in which there has always been a high turnover rate, which makes it increasingly hard to replace your leaving workers with top-tier talent.
Here’s what you need to do if you want to find and hire not only adequate, but superstar retail workers who can take your business to the next level.
Employee Referrals Rule
This is still the golden rule for just about every industry, but especially in retail. The best way to find great employees is to ask your best employees to refer people they believe would make excellent additions to your team.
Offering rewards for recommendations is a great way to motivate your employees to refer good people to you. However, if you are going to do this, especially if you are rewarding cash to the employee that makes the recommendations, it’s a good idea to create a rule that says that the person recommending the new employee will not get the reward until the new employee has spent three months in the company and has proved his worth.
This gives you a failsafe that makes sure that employees aren’t abusing the referral policy and just recommending anybody and everybody. Your best employees will usually understand that their reputations rest on their referrals, making it clear to them that they should only refer people who they truly believe would be a good team fit.
Nevertheless, you should have such a system installed that makes sure that you aren’t getting burned by mediocre or downright terrible referrals.
Your Online Presence Needs to Shine
If you are interested in learning about a new store that just opened up in your area, where do you look first? Online, of course. Having a great online presence it probably more important for retail than for any other industry. Your website needs to be great, your social channels needs to be flourishing; everything about your online presence needs to be top-shelf.
All the best retail employees put a lot of work into researching companies before deciding to apply for a job. That’s why you need to be asking yourself the following question: What impression will they get of my company if they Google us?
It’s a very important question to consider. Do you look like a serious company to people on the outside? Does it look like a fun place to work? Does it look like a store with great potential? Can you sense an air of professionalism just by looking at your company’s website and social pages?
You shouldn’t be cutting any corners when putting together and maintaining your store’s online presence.
Optimize Ads for Mobile
We already know how general Internet use has been drastically shifting from desktop to mobile over the past several years. But studies on the topic of hiring and job hunting say that more and more people are searching for jobs using mobile device than ever before.
In fact, experts say that the transition from Web to mobile devices will be just as dramatic as the shift from print to online job posting was most recently. When your looking to hire for retail, you’re mostly looking at younger workers, which is where the shift to mobile will probably be even more predominant.
And that’s why you really need to put a lot of work into optimizing your job ads for every possible platform, mobile included. Even if you are not taking your job ads to mobile apps that are strictly dedicated to job postings just yet, you should be working to make sure that your online job ads are easy to access on a mobile device.
This usually means that you need to keep the listing very simply and short. You need to do this for two reasons. Firstly, people tend to read less on mobile and secondly, you’re going to want to make sure that the text of the job ad is big enough and readable when someone is accessing to on a smartphone.
It’s also a good idea to allow job seekers to simply attach their resumes and send them to you instead of making them fill out long forms about their professional experience, which is something else people tend to avoid doing when surfing the web on a smartphone or tablet.
Stay in Touch with Old Employees
As anyone who manages a retail store already knows, the turnover rate in this industry is astronomical. That’s because many people who work retail look for seasonal jobs, not long-term employment.
That’s why it’s a good idea to maintain healthy relationships with your former employees and keep in touch with them – especially the good ones.
Many of these people might be in between jobs or looking for a new source of revenue over the summer while they are home from school. If they were excellent employees and they left your store on good terms, it can’t hurt to reach out to them every now and then to see if they are looking for work.
And while it may not last for long, at least you know that you’ll be getting a great employee back for the time being. They will also be more likely to take a seasonal job without someone they have already had a good working experience with than to look for something new.
Get More Than One Opinion
The importance of getting the feedback of your best employees can’t be stated enough. Not only should you ask them for recommendations and referrals, you should be including them in the selection process as well.
The best people to include in the process is the employees who are going to be working most directly with the new hire. This process should be both collaborative and individual in order to achieve the best results. Talk with the team of potential interviewers as a whole to reach an agreement on what type of questions each employee should be asking the potential new hire.
Then holding short one-on-one interviews between each member of the “hiring committee” and the interviewee, with each member of the team asking questions that most relate to what they do and how they are going to be interacting with the new team member.
Make sure that they are quick talks though, so it doesn’t seem like an overly drawn out process. Retail employee are not accustomed to doing multiple rounds of interviews, so don’t make it seem as if the process is any longer than it should be.
Once everyone has met with the potential employee, round up everyone again and have an open discussion in order to reach a consensus about them; their pros and cons and whether everyone believes that he or she would be a good fit for the team.
The difficult truth of managing a retail team is that, no matter what you do, there’s still going to be a high turnover rate. That’s simply the way retail is. But by making sure that you have hire great employees, albeit temporary ones, you are ensuring that you’re getting the most out of your team in such a situation.
By hiring better employees, you are also increasing the chances of keeping them around and turning them into essential members of your team. Studies have shown that promoting managers from within your team almost always trumps looking for outside talent.