I was speaking to a visual merchandiser a while back who was leaving for a week to go help open a new retail store in his region. His biggest complaint was how difficult it is for branch staff to do their jobs. There are not enough branch staff because of the austerity measures the company has put in place and the staff are woefully lacking in training.
The problem with this retail chain is that the people in head office with big titles are given training on a silver platter. But the staff at the branch where the interface is with customers, where the sales take place, where the money is made, receive little or no training at all. Isn’t it ironic, he said, that those who float around in the head office with fancy titles receive all the training but the people who ring up the cash registers receive very little or nothing at all?
It’s also difficult to get head office staff to come out to visit stores and do training. If a retail store is 150 km away, the head office staff will want to stay overnight at a luxury guesthouse. These are the perks that head office staff get while those in the branches dealing with the customer day to day get no such luxuries. He’s reported the lack of training to his upper management but all they said is that they’ll look into it.
I don’t know about you but I have experienced first hand the difficulty dealing with branch staff who have not been trained in another large retail chain. Their morale is so low that the staff think nothing of opening the branch way after 9 AM in the morning.
Standing outside the locked doors, you wonder how a business like this can survive the recession. When you go inside these stores they are so thinly staffed that sometimes no one is in the store, not even someone to ring up what you want to buy. It’s little wonder, isn’t iut, when you see this chain store appearing in the so-called “business” newspapers making excuses for its shoddy performance.
How much training are you doing in your small business? Is it important to you? Do you provide training at the retail floor or the factory floor where it’s often needed most?
Yes, I can hear you ask why spend this money on training when your staff members can leave and go work at competitors. That’s an interesting but puzzling view. What about the staff you hired who have been trained by competitors and other companies? You see, it’s a zero sum game if you do no training. If you do, then all other businesses, including yours, benefit.
In these volatile, down-beat times, every sale counts. Those small business owners who invests in their staff even at the most junior and basic level will reap the competitive benefits.
Disclaimer: I have started and run five businesses, one of which failed and the other four being successful. Interestingly, I learnt the most from my failure. “If a subordinate comes to manager at Amazon with a great idea, the default answer must be yes. If the manager wants to say no, he or she is required to write a two-page thesis explaining why it’s a bad idea.” (Source: Entrepreneur.com)