What to look for in a great retail employee who fits your business:
Look for faults
Even if someone looks perfect on paper, and you want to give them a job on the spot, this could be one of the biggest hiring mistakes you make. Take your time and try and find something wrong with the applicant. Give yourself time to make a decision, and go over their resume a few more times, checking that it is indeed as good as you think it is.
Prioritise flexibility and dedication
If you’re hiring for a long-term position and you’ve found the perfect applicant, but they can only work every rainy Tuesday, some Thursday afternoons, and on Saturdays when the moon is full, they’re not the right person for your business. In the meantime, you could bring in a not-so-stellar employee and train them up to that level. If you want someone to understand your brand and business, and how to sell to customers, you can’t bring in someone who’s using this as a fill-in job in between their primary gig as a mascot for the local croquet team.
Don’t focus on hiring for experience
If a prospective employee has had a slew of retail jobs in the past, you have to ask yourself why they keep leaving. What’s more, whatever bad habits or understanding of retail they had from their previous work they will carry with them into your store. There is a misconception that if you hire from a pool of applicants with experience, you won’t be required to train them, as they already know the ropes. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for you, every business is different, and the skills and techniques that worked in a boutique store perhaps won’t fly selling vacuum cleaners. It is important to have experience, but don’t narrow your search to only that. If you do hire someone with experience, make sure you’re still training them as you would with anyone, but carry out a wide search.
Personality is key
If you’re hiring someone to work at the front of the shop – in front of customers, they can’t be a bland introvert. Their conversation needs to pack a bit of a kick, to be persuasive and confident and to keep customers talking. Look for someone with a ready smile and an inner spark. If they’re going to be selling TV’s, ask questions about their first memories of watching TV, or how TV’s have changed in their life as they’ve grown. Look for passion in a response. If you can find someone who keeps themselves happy, they will not only keep customers happy, but the infectiousness can spread to the rest of your staff, and employee satisfaction is one of the primary ways to boost your revenue and sales.
Sell your workplace
People often forget that hiring is a two-way process. Yes, you have to decide whether you like an applicant enough, but beyond that, they have to make sure that they like you, and will fit into your workplace environment. Let them know how your business works and thrives, let them know what your standards of service are, and the goals you have for both your employees and the future of the business. Inspire them to work there, and explain opportunities for advancement. This way, you’ll have an employee who believes in your vision and the work they’re doing.
Look for friendliness
A friendly employee is so important. Friendly employees play well with others. They play well with other employees, with managers and owners, and most importantly – customers. One of the best things a customer can come of a store saying is “wow, they were so helpful, and so nice.” Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and if a customer had a good experience, they’re going to send others back. A good way to find out if an employee is friendly is to check their references, asking what words they would use to describe your applicant. Ask the applicant as well, to see if it’s something they think about themselves.
Applicants are always going to put their best face forward when applying for your job, but if you’re looking for the right qualities in a retail employee, you can find the one best suited to you. Look for confidence and friendliness, with a willingness to learn. Applicants can come from sales backgrounds or not, but either way, you must train them to be the best employee they can be for your business.