Employees Need Training, Monitoring, Says Retail Doctor

Your employees help determine the success of your store, said Bob Phibbs, “The Retail Doctor,” in “How to Manage Your Sales Team,” an April 6 session at the AGS Conclave in Los Angeles.

“It is easy to buy stones,” he said. “It is easy to buy jewelry. The hardest thing is to connect with consumers and sometimes with our own employees.”

To get the most from your sales team, Phibbs gave jewelers the following tips.

Don’t neglect retail training. It’s the “gas of the car.”

“If you don’t put gas in your car, don’t be upset if you’re not going anywhere,” he said.

To properly train an employee, first tell them what you’re going to show them. Then do it without explaining. Then break it down into steps, and let them ask questions. Finally, review.

But he added that while it’s easy to do sales training, the important thing is follow-up.

Hire better.

Phibbs recommends when interviewing employees to ask for a past example of a tough sale they have turned around, to inquire about sales numbers, and to find out if they are a group person or a loner.

Stay away from hypotheticals and questions about the future (“Where do you see yourself in five years?”), because millennials don’t think in those terms.

Finally, ask for contrary information, with a question like, “What was a time when you didn’t give great customer service?”

Constantly review the performance of employees and your store.

“We have to inspect what we expect,” he said. “In a store, I always set a goal. What are your key performance indicators? What is your conversion rate? Most of you probably think your conversion rate is 75 percent. You’ll be lucky if it’s 15.”

Also, track average sale and margin, he added.

“Every competitor online is looking for every gram of information they can,” he noted, and traditional retailers have to do the same.

“Collect stories.”

“The guy is looking for a bracelet; that’s not a story. But if he’s buying it for a niece, that’s a story.

“Most of us sell jewelry like it’s an investment. The emotional sale is what we have gotten away from…. We are selling feeling. We are not selling rubies or sapphires. We are selling things that make people feel good.”

Every retailer needs to remember “there is nothing anyone has to drive to your store to buy,” he says.

“Ralph Lauren is closing its flagship Polo store in Manhattan. What does that tell you? People are no longer willing to go to stores that they no longer feel engaged in.

“You are not seeing 100 people coming in on a busy Saturday anymore. You are seeing five people and you have to close every one of them.”

(Image courtesy of The Retail Doctor)

JCK News Director