Harnessing your biggest asset

By creating a motivated team, you can help harness the value of your biggest asset, your staff. In order to achieve this, retailers must find ways to increase motivation and accelerate the development of their employees to keep them engaged.

Chairing the panel for creating a thriving team at this year’s Local Shop Summit was news reporter, Alex Yau. One of the key areas of conversation focused on why utilising your team’s skills and interests can not only drive sales, but help retain them in your business.

Dan Amin, owner of One Stop Stores in Coventry, said that he often listens to ideas from his team members on how he can improve his store. “Give them responsibility. If your staff know what’s going on in the business then they can come up with fresh ideas to help you grow it,” he said. “They are more likely to promote a product to a customer if it sits in a display that they helped create.”

Play to your strengths

The idea of playing to the strengths of employees was echoed by retailer Dave Hiscutt, store manager of Londis Westham Road in Weymouth, who recommended capitalising on specific team member interests.

“We have just set up a dessert bar and the staff member we have assigned to that lives and breathes that side of the business,” he said. “It keeps them motivated and encouraged.”

The panellists went on to explain that getting to know their teams on a personal level allowed them to better understand their strengths.

John Parkinson, owner of Broadway Premier in Llandudno, told how regular social events outside of his shop gives his staff the opportunity to share ideas. “My staff regularly get together and go out for meal to talk about how we can improve,” he said. “We get a lot of input and it also helps to create a team atmosphere.”

Amin added: “Its important to get to know their personal lives, and by going out it humanises me and allows my workers to see another side of me. Its important that they feel like they can talk to me about anything.”

Treading carefully

However, Jacqui Dales, owner of Spar London Road Bakery in Boston warned that retailers should tread carefully when getting to know an employee outside of work. “I do think it’s important to keep a little bit of distance with team members, because if you know too much it can make dealing with disciplinaries, for example much harder,” she said.

When it comes to staff retention, all panellists agreed that this remained a key focus when considering staff development. Jacqui has introduced performance related bonuses for her employees, which has generated encouraging results.

“As a result, we have seen productivity increase by 10%,” she explained. “Our staff turnover decreased from 20% to 8%, which means you are keeping staff who are more experienced – we all know that recruitment is the worst thing.”

Industry expert Jaz Dail, HTEC national sales manager said he actively praises his staff to ensure they feel valued. “Recognition attracts people to a role,” he noted. “If somebody has done something really positive then a staff email gets sent around, and they are also congratulated in our company WhatsApp group.”

Rewarding the team

Amin added that every year he rewards one of his team members with a holiday worth £500. “We want to drive our staff and make sure that they have an incentive,” he said. “This motivates everyone to want to be the one who is selected.”

When defining the fundamental building blocks of a successful team, all the panellists shared the same emphasis on hiring someone who has personality. “I employ smiley people and just work really hard to maintain that,” said Dales.

Hiscutt went on to highlight the importance of installing clear processes. “It’s vital to ensure everyone has clear job descriptions and has access to a staff handbook,” he explained. “This way you can make sure that you are treating all staff members the same.”