Your Employees Do Represent You

Fact: Employees who feel proud about their job and their employer will be better representatives of your business.

Your Employees Do Represent You

It’s true: When customers talk to your staff in the aisles, or at the check-out counter, every employee a customer meets represents you and your business.

That is a key reason selecting great employees, and coaching correctly, are important. To have great representatives, begin by hiring the best possible persons. It obviously helps if the person knows about archery gear, bowhunting and target shooting because experience counts. Customers quickly realize if a clerk knows nothing about what they are trying to sell. You can find details regarding experience during an interview, and by checking references.

Once hired, hands-on coaching and working alongside the new hire always beats simply telling the employee something and expecting results. Turning teaching points into a story (a customer said this, or bought this because of . . . ) helps employees better understand about listening to customers and answering their questions. Listening is the first key step in selling.

Another way to help your employees learn to better represent you and your shop is through an employee manual and a sales or product review guide. Work with vendors and suppliers to create cheat sheets to help all employees learn about the key selling points with your top products. These guide sheets are tools for employees to cover pointers with customers about top products, or possibly all products in an area in which they will be working. Never send someone to the floor and tell them to start selling or simply waiting on customers. Give guidance and take the time to work along with them to help the employee get up to speed more quickly. Coach them on a short elevator speech about what your company stocks, and details on the top brands.

Another way to help employees better represent you and your business is making online training courses available to employees from your vendors and the companies whose products you stock and sell. There are many on-line courses and employee training programs in the archery arena, and most are free and easy to use. Hoyt, for example, has online information regarding tuning a bow, a glossary of terms, service advisories and much more on the company website. For the ultimate training and experience, consider sending some employees to regional archery trade shows and the iconic annual Archery Trade Association Show when possible. Many bow manufacturers also offer courses with certification covering its products for dealer training.  There are many great teaching schools available for you and your employees, and some offer certification courses. A framed certificate on the wall in your shop with an employee’s name earns credibility with your customers.

Like you, everyone on your team should demonstrate a high level of pride and attention to detail when completing any assigned task.
Like you, everyone on your team should demonstrate a high level of pride and attention to detail when completing any assigned task.

As representatives of your business, it helps to make employees feel like a team member. Building a team spirit can be as simple as asking for an employee’s feedback on new merchandise, what merchandise they have heard customers comment on that you do or do not stock, and asking for insight into other day-to-day programs and operating practices within your business. When you do welcome new hires, don’t single out current employees as bad examples and make derogatory comments about others. This sets a bad example. Also, don’t pick on any new hires as the new kid on the block because this tells current staff it is okay to harass new employees.

When you have done your research, asked the important questions and made a great hire, remember, team members (like yourself) can have bad days, so don’t let one bad day or incident set the tone for your ongoing relationship with a new or current employee. Step back, take a deep breath, and wait until tomorrow to address the issue or event. Everyone is human, and in these stressful times bad days can be more numerous.

Employees everywhere seem to never hear positive comments and praise. It’s important to tell employees thank you for a job well done. Everyone likes recognition and feedback. If you aren’t communicating positively with your employees, they aren’t representing you at their peak ability. If a customer leaves a positive comment about an employee and his or her customer service, share this comment with the employee — and all employees — as an example that customers notice great service or top-notch employee assistance. A good time to say thanks for a job well done is on pay days or when your business will be closed for holidays.

Employees who feel under-appreciated, left out, and expendable will not put their best foot forward. Communicate effectively and regularly, have an open door policy, and make employees feel appreciated when possible with bonuses, discounts and other recognition rewards. Wonder what they like to receive when you can’t give everything on the list? Listen to your employees and give them feedback to let them know you heard their comments.

One simple way to help employees better represent you when dealing with customers is to allow your employees to try products so they can speak from experience. Combining experience with the details from a sheet of product pointers provided by the manufacturer helps your representative employee better serve customers and guide them in meeting their needs. When it comes to working with customers, experience counts! You can also offer discounts on products after a certain period of employment and other positive incentives. If a manufacturer offers you a discount, check to see if you can share this with employees and get those manufacturer’s products in their hands.

While there are busy times on the calendar in all archery shops, remember to train and coach all new employees. The better prepared they are to wait on your customers, the better they can represent you. Another important part of employee training is cross-training so employees can cover projects when other employees are absent. This is especially true in the bow tuning and set-up arena.

To make every employee feel more on-the-team, it’s important to provide logo shirts and a hat if your shop has these item. This also lets customers entering the store know immediately who works there. Be certain the attire is comfortable; what works for males isn’t always best for female employees.

Remember that employees also represent your business when they are out with friends and family, shooting at the archery park or range, and while hunting. Create guidelines about professionalism outside the work place. Caution employees that what they say and post online is also often viewed as your company’s stance on a subject because that person works for you — and your customers know this. Social media spreads across a wide audience, and unfortunately today there are many examples where a company’s employee’s online comments or images have caused a black-eye for the employer and business.

Working retail can be stressful, especially during the busy season. Be sure to provide support for your team, and remember to say “good job.”
Working retail can be stressful, especially during the busy season. Be sure to provide support for your team, and remember to say “good job.”

Create a Positive Work Environment

Believe it or not, it is often the little things that are easy to do that turn good employees into great ones. Employees like positive recognition and you can build a stronger bond with them by recognizing their work anniversaries, birthdays, births in family, marriages, etc. On a new employee’s first day, be sure to introduce him or her personally to all current staff members in your archery shop, and explain in detail what this person will be doing so there isn’t any confusion. Don’t just tell an employee to go look for another employee and learn by shadowing them.

This tip is for employers with a large staff: Create a positive environment by working alongside your employees — and learn more about them. Don’t always be looking out from an office window as they work. Yes, you hired those employees to do a job, but you can learn by seeing how they complete a certain job, such as stocking shelves. This working together period is possibly also the best time to discover insight into what the employee has heard from your customers, especially comments about specific gear sold in the store. Time spent working with all employees is key to building that two-way communication channel.

Your employees DO represent you and your business. All employees who feel proud about their job and their employer will be a better representative of your business.

Photos by John Hafner


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