Academy in action: Staff Development

Your staff are the most important asset you have so ensuring that they are representing your business the way you want is vital. The IAA’s Louise Banham joined P&G’s Becky Spencer on a visit to Kham Sahraee’s store to see how he keeps his staff on top form and advise on where and how he could improve.

P&G’s Becky Spencer talks to Kham and Lydia Sahraee about how they could further develop their staff by keeping them informed and listening to their opinions

A shop can succeed or fail because of its staff. It only takes one instance of poor customer service to lose sales, and if staff are not kept up to date with the latest legislation you could end up in hot water with Trading Standards.

Kham Sahraee has been a retailer for 20 years and, along with his wife Lydia, is proud of the team behind his convenience store in Chichester, West Sussex.

We visited Kham and Lydia with Becky Spencer, category manager, ShelfHelp at Procter & Gamble, to discuss how they work together and what more they could do to develop their staff.

1: Give staff structured inductions, training and feedback

Kham’s three month action plan

1. Hold more staff mettings
2. Run competitions with staff to drive sales
3. Put up a noticeboard to keep staff up to date

Kham explains to Becky that every time they take on a new employee they have a week-long induction period.

“We take them around every part of the shop to explain how everything works,” he says. He explains that a big focus for them when developing their staff is to make sure they offer excellent customer service.

“Once we’ve trained them I leave them in the shop and go out the back where I can see them on the security camera. I watch and see how they interact with customers.” Kham adds that he also asks customers for feedback.

“I use the information I get from them to further improve my staff,” he says.

 2: Offer extra responsibility to keep staff motivated

“When my staff are on duty and I’m not here they have responsibility for the whole shop,” Kham says. “They’re completely in control.”

Some employees go with Kham to the cash and carry. They know what to buy and he is confident they know how to merchandise.

Becky asks if he incentivises staff. “I think I’ll consider giving categories to staff to see if they can do something different to drive sales,” Kham says. “If my sales are higher, their salaries can be higher too.”

Becky says that it’s good to give staff an element of responsibility so they know they can be trusted. “Your staff know to value your customers which is the best service you can give,” she adds. “It’s that personal touch that supermarkets can’t offer.”

3: Use national training and certification schemes

iaa-tipBecky asks whether Kham and Lydia offer any national training schemes to their employees. They don’t, but are strict on training on age-restricted products and have been congratulated twice by Trading Standards for their excellent training.

When a staff member puts initiative into the shop and improves the business, Kham rewards them. “Every six months we assess how they’re doing and for those who are performing the best, we’ll increase their salary,” he says. “My staff have pride in the shop – they treat it like it’s theirs.”

Becky also recommends training staff to upsell at the counter. Using batteries as an example, she says: “A third of all batteries are sold at Christmas and if you have that prompt you can increase your sales.”

4. Communicate in-store news via newsletters and meetings

When the weather warms up, Kham & Lydia hold staff barbecues in the garden at the back of the shop, where they can chat informally. But they don’t hold staff meetings, instead choosing to talk to staff on an ad hoc basis.

Becky suggests having a meeting when they open up. “You can gather together and update them,” she says. “If you tell them what’s on promotion, they can mention it to customers and it could lead to an extra item in their basket.”

Becky also recommends introducing a noticeboard to let staff know about any changes or promotions that they might not have spotted. “That’s a good idea,” says Kham. “We could do more to let them know about promotions.”

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