Staff development – Academy in Action with P&G


  • Name: Kamlesh Patel
  • Shop: Londis
  • Location: Manor Park, London
  • Size: 2,800 sq ft
  • Years retailing: 34
  • Years in the IAA: 8

Stocking products to meet your customers’ needs is essential. But having well-trained, knowledgeable staff who provide great service is just as vital. The IAA’s Darren Rackham joined Procter & Gamble’s John Drake at Kamlesh and Geeta Patel’s east London store to find out how they train theirs.

Kamlesh's challenge:

Local competition is tough, so Kamlesh’s staff need to be on top of their game at all times, providing excellent service while abiding to new regulations and red tape.

IAA advice:

1.Train staff regularly to perform key tasks and understand their legal responsibilities.

John Drake, head of emerging channels at P&G, advises Kamlesh on the importance of keeping his staff up to date on legislation. He asks what Kamlesh does presently.

“We target staff in specific areas,” Kamlesh says. “This ensures they understand their legal obligations when selling age-restricted products.”

John suggests that Kamlesh identifies his staffs’ key strengths so he can use them effectively. Kamlesh says he does try to place them in areas where they work well. “Some are good on the counter, so I let them work there. Another is good at creating displays so I encourage him to do them.”

John is impressed with Kamlesh’s methods and suggests he could take it further. He says: “I would like to see you help staff become leaders by continuing to identify peoples’ strengths and setting targets.” Kamlesh agrees, saying he wants to encourage leadership in his team to provide strong support when he and Geeta are not around.

2.Ensure staff have good listening skills, product knowledge and are encouraged to take responsibility for customer service.

John is impressed by Kamlesh’s range of household cleaning and laundry products. He tells Kamlesh how vital it is for his staff to be fully knowledgeable of the health and beauty category and its margins in order to maximise profits.

Kamlesh agrees, saying he educates himself online and by reading RE’s sister title, Retail Newsagent, before imparting information to his staff. “I want all the staff to be experts in all areas of the store,” he says. “I want them to feel confident.”

John is pleased with this, adding that full product knowledge across all categories would also help Kamlesh’s staff to communicate well with customers.

He says: “I would like to see Kamlesh’s staff listening to customers’ needs and then actively selling at the till.”

3. Teach staff about all parts of the business, create a process for them to provide feedback and encourage them to bond as a team.

John tells Kamlesh he is pleased with his efforts to build a strong team. Kamlesh tells John that he wants his staff to feel like part of the family, not that they just work in his shop. He says he and Geeta work closely with them across the store and value their feedback on all areas.

Kamlesh says: “The staff work together and that builds a good team. We’re always open to their views because we know they represent us to customers and it’s important to have customer views on what we are providing.”

Kamlesh tells John he carries out category training once a month. John says he is impressed by the structures he and Geeta have put in place.

He adds: “It’s brilliant to have a formal structure for monthly feedback and training. I would like to see you create a way of showing you are using their feedback to improve the business.”

What we learnt:

john drake

“Kamlesh and Geeta are doing such a good job in their store, and that’s great to see. They have excellent staff who work well as a team. Kamlesh is managing categories brilliantly with good, regular training that keeps his staff up to date. The store is a well-oiled machine. Everyone understands the business so the cover element of it is strong. It will be interesting to see how they get on with the agreed action plan.”
John Drake, Head of emerging channels, P&G


“John’s visit was very useful. It was reassuring to hear about the things we are doing well but also to listen to his advice on areas we could improve upon. We want to invest further in our staff and encourage them to take on more responsibility. When we’re away, they need to run the shop, so they need to know exactly what they’re doing. The better they are, the better the business is. I look forward to implementing our action plan.”
Kamlesh Patel, Londis, Manor Park, London

bulbKamlesh’s action plan:

  1. Create a formal way to show staff how you are acting upon their feedback.

  2. Introduce active selling at the till. Staff could use their knowledge to sell one additional line a week.

  3. Set targets that challenge staff more and encourage their growth to become leaders.

pencilYour action plan:

  • Go to betterretailing.com/IAA to download the free tools to improve your store

  • Complete the benchmarking form by 26 June to enter the IAA and be in with a chance to receive a mystery shop visit
  • Download your free digital copy of the IAA’s Retail Profit Guide.


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