Articles for Retailers - Kizer & Bender

Train, Train, TRAIN

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender
Ran April 25, 2018 in eNEWS

How important is consistent training in your store? How much do your people know about what’s really involved in running your business? Associates want to do a good job and they want to be involved. You want that too, yet in many of store visits we meet associates who aren’t sure what’s really expected of them. This is why a consistent training program is necessary in your store. Even your best people need to learn new things to stay on top of their game.

  • Start each new hire off on the right foot with a New Hire Orientation Program that gets them involved on day one. Assign the trainee a simple task that he can do well and let him get to work. Set aside ten minutes at the end of the shift to review how he did. Let him know that you appreciate his hard work; a sincere “thank you” and a “job well done” from the boss goes a long way in making a new hire feel comfortable. Continue your ten-minute meeting each day of your trainee’s first week.
  • Implement a Buddy System where each trainee is assigned a buddy – a partner the new associate can go to ask questions they may be too embarrassed to ask you. The Buddy System not only takes pressure off of the new hire, it elevates the Buddy to the new status of trainer, so it’s motivating to both associates.
In addition to classes for your new hires that include just about every aspect of working in your store, you will also need a continuous training program for seasoned associates. It’s easy to assume that someone who has been with you for a number of years will know all there is to know about a particular task, product or technique. Trust us, they don’t, and assuming that they do will only frustrate customers and hurt your business. Regardless of skill level, everyone in your store, yourself included, will benefit from continuous training.

Each month devote one store meeting to associate training. Provide books, links to online training, and DVDs so associates can study on their own. Allow your top performers to attend classes offered Art Materials World and other trade shows whenever possible. If this isn’t doable, buy the session recordings while you’re at the show. You may even want to create an in-store university where associates are rewarded with raises or promotions each time they achieve a new level in their in-store training.
  • Each person working your sales floor needs to have some knowledge of everything that you sell so they can intelligently answer customer questions. Some will need to be experts. We know that not everyone can be an expert in every product or technique, but they do need to know where, and who to go to, for help when they need it.

Take your training out onto the sales floor and conduct product training right in the aisle. Here you will be surrounded with an entire product category, plus all the additional items the associates can add-on to the sale. Hold up an item and ask what could be added-on to increase the sale. Adding-on is not a mere attempt to sell more, it’s a service to the customer. These additional items can save a customer valuable time because she won’t have to run back to the store to pick up whatever she needs to complete a project, but didn’t purchase on the first trip to the store.

In addition to your more formal monthly meetings, hold a ten minute Jog Your Memory (JOG) session every other morning, and during slow times of the day. JOG sessions can be held right on the sales floor. Use them to discuss one product or policy at a time or focus on current and upcoming classes and special events. There should never be a time when a customer knows more about what’s going on in the store before the associates know, yet we see it happen all of the time.

Make training an important and on-going part of your business. Customers count on your associates to be nice people who know the store and product inside and out. And your competitors, who want to steal your business, are counting on them to be just the opposite. So, what’s it going to be? How well your associates perform is entirely up to you.


Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S.