Training team staff shop

When it comes to any business, the people who work at the forefront are representing that business to every person who enters the establishment. They are as much the face of the business as the owners.

With that in mind, ensuring that they understand the ethos of that business, not to mention the essential laws and regulations that govern that particular industry, is of paramount importance.

“Cap gun toys are age restricted and you can’t sell aerosol deodorant to under-16s because it’s flammable gas,” explains Shakeel Arshad, who runs two Spar stores in Sauchie and Elgin. “We teach our teams about that and get it signed off. We do it for our benefit and for them as well, because both of us could get a fine if they get it wrong.”

Ushma Amin, from Londis North Cheam in Surrey, starts with the most basic of training for her staff by focusing on their safety.

“I tell them that if someone comes in with a weapon to let them empty the till and don’t run after them because my staff’s lives are more important. If someone comes in and threatens people, I tell my staff to let them do what they want. But I also train them to be vigilant, to see the patterns and behaviours of thieves. I’ve been in the business for 25 years, so I can pass things on,” she says.

The benefits of staff training extend beyond your own peace of mind. It helps them to enjoy their work more and become more effective members of your team as well. “It gives them greater confidence,” says Terry Caton, from Londis Chesterfield & Post Office, Derbyshire. “The more knowledgeable they are, the easier it should be for them to do their job. They can help customers look for certain products or they can upsell. It’s easier for the staff to have confident conversations with the customers if they have more information.

Keep up to date with training

The law is often changing and, for Terry Caton, from Londis Chesterfield & Post Office, Derbyshire, ensuring that his staff are kept abreast of any updates allows him to rest easy. A proper intervention, signed off by the staff, makes sure that everyone knows where they stand and staff can act with greater confidence of what is expected of them and what they can do. This was particularly relevant over the past year, with new coronavirus regulations coming into force on a regular basis.

“We put the brakes on and go through the changes with the staff and make sure that they’re updated regularly,” he says. “When it comes to legislation like underage sales, we have regular sign-offs and updates so they understand what’s required. When the lottery buying age went up to 18, it was important that it was signed off by all staff members rather than just acknowledged verbally.”

Becoming a part of the community

Ushma Amin, from Londis North Cheam in Surrey, has worked hard to become the heart of her community, involving herself in local initiatives. She encourages her staff to do the same, going beyond a simple greeting to create a more interactive experience.

“I train all the staff to be polite – that’s part of the job. But I train them to be helpful and talk to the customers. If someone needs a taxi, my staff will call them a taxi. We’re a small shop, we’re not a supermarket, so we should be an information hub for everyone. People tell me they come to us because we’re always smiling. And I train my staff to do that.”

Amin also gets her staff to read trade magazines like RN so they can stay abreast of market trends, new lines and flavours, and other news, making them better informed and better able to improve the shop. “I sometimes leave a page open on the counter and tell them to read it.”

store chilled fridge food
Staff training staff

In the first 12 weeks a new staff member works at Shakeel Arshad’s stores in Sauchie and Elgin, they are allowed to make any mistake regardless of what level they start at. A manager shadows new staff members, offering assistance, advice and training, and shows them the mistakes they’re making.

“We’ve found that instead of throwing people in at the deep end, it’s better to give them proper training,” he says. “That supervisor’s job is to show them the rights and wrongs, and it’s down to the supervisor to say they’re ready or not. Sometimes we’ll cut the training short – it depends on their experience. Some people right out of school need a lot of work.”

Employing two people to effectively do one person’s job for up to 12 weeks is expensive, but the end result pays for itself. “If you do it, you find that they’re more loyal, they’re better at their job and you get more back from them.”

Shakeel Arshad Sauchie and Elgin Spar
Get input from your team

A few weeks ago, when Goran Raven told a new starter at his Budgens Abridge store in Kent to let him know if he felt there was anything the store could improve upon, he was met with surprise.

“He looked at me and said he’d been doing these sorts of jobs for eight years, and no one had ever asked for his opinion on how he would improve things,” recalls Raven. “It’s how we’ve always operated, but it was a big shock for him.”

For Raven, making staff aware of this input from day one benefits him and his employees. “It’s making sure they’re empowered and don’t feel like a cog in a machine.

“The feedback can have a big effect on the business and how we treat other new starters,” he says.

He also pairs starters with senior employees for on-the-job guidance and separates his Budgens staff from his Shell forecourt so responsibilities are clearly defined.

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