Ask INSTOREThe Best Time of Year to Hold a Sale, How to Keep Staff and More of Your Questions Answered Retaining staff isn’t all about money. Published 1 year agoon May 18, 2018By INSTORE Staff Instore June 2018 Issue Share Tweet We spend a lot of time training staff. How do we keep them?The good news — and the bad news — about retention is that it is not all about the money. A competitive salary is obviously important, but employee longevity is often more about other issues like the friendships people have at work, the opportunities to grow, the challenge and satisfaction they get from their career. And sometimes it’s about the benefits. Working out what keeps people engaged and happy can be difficult. One of the best ways to get such insights is “stay interviews.” Specifically, ask your employee: “Can you identify some of the things that could contribute to you doing the best work of your life?” or more simply “Please tell me why you like working here and what I can do better.” Establishing retention in a systematic way starts with your hiring process. Some people just aren’t cut out for working many years at one employer, especially a small one. Tell job candidates, “This is a long-term position for the right person. If you don’t see yourself here in three years, please tell me.”What is the best time of year to have a non-holiday sale? And what about the worst? We put this to our 300-strong Brain Squad and the overwhelming take-away was “it depends”: on your client base, on local weather patterns, the school calendar, local tax holidays, etc.April and May were the most commonly cited months, because many jewelers find this a good time to do a clearance sale ahead of the arrival of new inventory, and because customers often start receiving their tax refunds around then. The slower summer months from June through August were also popular, but not with everyone — some say too many clients take vacations at that time for an event to be successful.What to do? Start testing.What if I see a customer go to steal an item and then put it back?Ain’t much you can do, says Rick Segel, author of Retail for Dummies. “The police don’t arrest people for contemplating shoplifting.” Just keep a close eye on them and hope they don’t come back. My main jeweler has asked me if I’ll take on his 16-year-old son as an unpaid intern this summer to give him some experience. What are the legal ramifications of this? AdvertisementThe Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division has specific criteria governing unpaid intern programs. Among them:The internship is for the benefit of the student.The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.The intern cannot be guaranteed a job at the conclusion of the training period.If those conditions are not met, the intern is considered an employee and is entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay.Our sales associates are on high commission rates but low base salaries. When summer comes, they ask for a lot of time off. I’d like to build up our summer business. What should I do?Let them know about your plans to boost your off-season sales and be sure to ask for their input. But that alone may not be enough to keep their hours up — and for you to avoid an ugly showdown if you insist they work long hours through summer in a near-empty store. Your best bet, while sales remain low (put that in writing), is to hike the commission rate on any sales they close in July, August and September and hope that the increase in summer sales will more than offset the larger commission checks you’ll write.Related Topics:Ask INSTOREINSTORE June '18sales tipsstaff trainingtheft click to Comment(Comment)Up NextHow to Manage Stress, Deal With a Perpetually Late Employee, And More of Your Questions AnsweredDon't MissWhat to Tell Other Staff When You Fire an Employee, and More of Your Questions Answered INSTORE Staff Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at email@example.com. Advertisement SPONSORED VIDEOWilkerson TestimonialsHaving a Moving Sale? Let Wilkerson Do the Heavy LiftingFor Jim Woodard, owner of Woodard’s Diamonds & Design in Tullahoma, Tenn., when it was time for a moving sale, there was only one company to help with the event: Wilkerson. “They brought in the right team for us,” he says, remarking about the sale’s extraordinary results, including a nearly 500% monthly sales increase compared to the previous year. “I wanted to have the best in the industry. And that’s the main reason why I contacted Wilkerson.”You may like Considering Store Layout, Guilt-Easing Gift Ideas, and More Manager’s To-Do Items for November Four Sales Meetings You Must Hold Before the Holidays How to Engage Clients in Conversation, Being More Productive, and More Tips for OctoberPromoted Headlines For This Virginia Jeweler, the Future is All About CustomOvernight When It’s Time for Something New, Call WilkersonWilkerson The Jewelry Retailer’s Ultimate Marketing Guide: Part 1/5RapNet Ask INSTOREHow to Promote Healthy Competition and More Of Your Questions Answered It all depends on how you present it. Published 4 weeks agoon October 16, 2019By INSTORE Staff How can I promote competition among staff without it turning my store into the setting for Lord Of The Flies?The key to fostering healthy competition, according to new research done by a team at Harvard Business School, lies in how you communicate the competition. When employees feel excited, they’re more likely to come up with creative solutions and new ways to better serve customers. When they feel anxious or worried they might lose their job or be publicly humiliated in some way, they’re more likely to cut corners or sabotage one another. Leaders can generate excitement by highlighting the potential positive consequences of competition (such as the recognition and rewards that await outstanding performers) rather than creating anxiety by singling out and highlighting low performers (think of the steak knives scene in Glengarry Glen Ross). HeadlinesVideo: Things to Remember When Dealing with ‘Gonna Buy’ Jewelry Customers Jim AckermanVideo: Why Jewelers Should Get Creative With Their Offers and Not Always Think of Discounting Jimmy DegrootVideo: The Right Way to Make Add-On Jewelry Sales We want to lay off a sales associate, but we’ve never done it before. If we are to give them “a month’s pay,” does that mean their base pay, or do we factor in their average commission earnings as well?”Suzanne Devries, president of Diamond Staffing Solutions, says that legally, you’re required to give them only the vacation, sick and personal days they have accrued, although she recommends that you base your decision on how valuable an asset this person has been to your organization, and how long they have been with you. “If it’s a long time and they have been loyal, you should definitely consider a certain amount of days per year. Second, make sure you have documentation that states why you are having layoffs.” She also advises you do an exit interview and have the person sign documentation stating that they understand why “they are part of a force reduction.” An important thing to keep in mind is how other staff will view this. They will want to know that they will be treated fairly even when times are tough.I keep hearing contradictory advice: Set goals or don’t set them. What’s your take?There are three main arguments against setting goals: One, that they can lead people to focus on the wrong things (by, for example, becoming too aggressive in chasing sales targets) or cut ethical corners; two, that they become demotivating when it becomes clear they can’t be reached; and three, that it’s healthier to live your life focused on the present. The secret to smart goal setting, then, is to do it in a way that addresses these problem areas. That means:1. Set challenging goals, but don’t make a big deal of it if someone falls short. 2. Structure goals that focus on behaviors, so your people are learning and improving, rather than wildly chasing a financial goal. 3. Be specific. Setting vague goals can produce higher rates of success with motivated staff, but if your employees are normal human beings, being specific will prevent procrastination. 4. Make the first couple of milestones easy so that people can build momentum toward the major goal. Progress is a huge motivator. 5. And finally, don’t make goals a death march; have fun trying to accomplish them.I’d like to hire a trainer, but I’m worried about the return on investment. How can I be sure it will be worth it?To really get your money’s worth, you need to focus on two things: 1. Hard skills. Overinvest in training that helps to increase ability, rather than motivation. Focus on small but vital aspects of your staff’s sales skills. It could be when to pause in a presentation, how many features to stress, or phone manner tips. Break tasks into discreet actions, practice within a low-risk environment and build in recovery strategies. 2. And this is just as important: Follow up. Bring in a trainer, but only if you yourself are willing to buy into their lessons and do ongoing training and reviews. Continue Reading Ask INSTOREHow to Be Safe at Company Parties, the Best Interview Question for a Prospective Hire, and More of Your Questions Answered Plus how to avoid becoming a mediocre business. Published 4 weeks agoon October 15, 2019By INSTORE Staff How do I lift my store out of the rut of mediocrity?According to work by the Brigham Young business school on high-performing teams, peers manage the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to maintaining standards. But how to get to that almost mythical land of self-enforced high standards?Joseph Grenny, a social scientist and author of Crucial Accountability, says there are four leadership practices that can help:1. Start by showing the consequences of mediocrity to connect people with the experiences, feelings and impact of bad performance. Keep the issue alive by telling stories that illustrate work well done and the real human cost of shoddy work, such as lost diamonds, ruined weddings and upset customers.2. Set clear goals and explain why they are important. “Use concrete measures to make poor performance painfully apparent,” says Grenny.3. Establish peer accountability so that people feel comfortable challenging one another when they see mediocrity. Regular weekly reviews can provide opportunities for mutual feedback and establish peer-accountability as a norm, Grenny says. It’s key that your store becomes an environment where everyone feels entitled to challenge anyone if it is in the best interest of the business.4. Be quick to defend the high standards. A chronic poor performer is a clear impediment to the goals you’ve set. How you handle this situation will let your team know whether your highest value is keeping the peace or pursuing performance.“When you ask a group to step up to high performance, you are inviting them to a place of stress — one where they must stretch, where failure is possible, where interpersonal conflicts must be addressed,” says Grenny. “If you shrink from or delay in addressing this issue, you don’t just lose that person’s contribution — you send a message to everyone else about your values.”I’m planning my company party, but one concern is that somebody might get drunk and have a car accident. Got any advice on protecting myself?Concerns about liability for alcohol-related incidents, sexual harassment, and workers’ compensation claims have led many companies to forgo holiday galas entirely. You don’t have to. But if you’re really afraid, lawyer Anil Khosla, writing in Inc. Magazine, suggests the following steps to reduce your liability: “1. To distance the business from the party, make it an entirely social event, don’t invite clients or vendors, and make sure employees know that attendance is voluntary. 2. Plan accordingly. Hold your gathering off-site, if possible. That may shift some of the potential liability to the hotel, restaurant, or caterer. If you must have an on-site party, hire an independent caterer. Don’t permit anyone from the company to serve alcohol, and instruct bartenders to stop serving anyone who seems inebriated. Lawyers advise avoiding an open bar— or, at the very least, limiting it to the first hour. Also, close the bar at least one hour before the party ends. 3. Consider providing transportation to and from the event. Make sure that cabs will be available, and appoint someone to suggest cab rides home for people who have had a few too many.”How do I tease out a prospective hire’s innate strengths during the interview process?The indirect method is often best when it comes to getting at a prospect’s true strengths. Marcus Buckingham, a leader of the strengths-based school of business management, suggests asking this question: What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months? “Find out what the person was doing and why he or she enjoyed it so much,” he says, adding it’s key to keep in mind that a strength is not merely something someone is good at. “It might be something they aren’t good at yet. It might be just a predilection, something they find so intrinsically satisfying that they look forward to doing it again and again and getting better at it over time.” The theory is that the best businesses are those that fully leverage the strengths of their employees as opposed to trying to fix up their weaknesses. Continue Reading Ask INSTOREHow to Tell When that Struggling New Hire Can’t be Saved, and More of Your Questions Answered Also, the Golden Rule of Triggers and a better way to set goals. Published 3 months agoon August 14, 2019By INSTORE Staff I got really angry at a customer the other day and left a pretty rude message on their voicemail. So, OK, I’ve lost that client. But how can I keep this from happening again?If you feel that anger management is an issue that’s affecting many parts of your life, go see a mental health professional. However, if you’re like the rest of us, and anger is more a cause for periodic embarrassment or regret, we fully recommend business author Tony Schwartz’s Golden Rule of Triggers, which is “Whatever you feel compelled to do, don’t.” Instead, he says, take a deep breath, and “feel your feet” — a distraction tactic that allows you to pull your head out of the red mist. You can no doubt remember occasions when you’ve told yourself (or others) to “take a deep breath” or to “count to 10” before exploding in rage. What Schwartz’s rule removes, though, is the need to reflect on whether we’re in such a situation. Instead, it recommends interpreting any sign of compulsive behavior as an indication that the action is probably imprudent. Rather than battling compulsion, his rule co-opts it as a warning system. The Golden Rule of Triggers may seem ridiculously simple, but in that tiny gap between the total grip of “flight or fight” survival mode and doing something you’ll regret, more likely to be an ill-considered email or text message these days, simple rules are all you’ll be capable of following.How do you know when a new employee can’t be saved? How much time should you give someone?When you have coached someone carefully and repeatedly, invested large amounts of energy and they show no signs of improvement, that’s a solid signal you probably need to act. The clincher comes when their co-workers start showing their frustration and stop trying to help the person. This is often at about the three or four month mark. A lot of bosses will let it drag on past that, but it’s really in everyone’s interest for both parties to pursue new opportunities.What should I do if I think my store is being “cased”?There are several immediate steps that can reduce the likelihood of a robbery or burglary. Jewelers Mutual offers the following advice. First, alert your employees by using a pre-established code word or phrase. When that happens, your employees should take the following steps:1. Have an employee with a cellphone leave the store to observe from a safe distance. 2. Make more employees visible on the sales floor. 3. Write down the description of any suspicious people and, if possible, their license plate number. 4. Make sure cabinets, showcases and safes are locked. 5. Greet the individuals and attempt to engage them in conversation. If they are robbers, your attention will be unwanted and they will leave. 6. Call the police and ask them to visit your store as soon as possible. Explain that you think your store is being cased for a potential robbery or burglary. 7. Store customers’ merchandise in a safe place out of sight. 8. Review procedures to follow should a robbery occur — stay calm, do not resist, obey the robber’s orders, do not say or do anything unless you are told to do so.Morale is bad and moaning seems to be part of our culture. Any ideas on how to turn it around?Bring an upbeat attitude to the store every morning and make it clear you expect the same positivity from your charges. In this new era, it’s expected your employees will take responsibility for their own happiness and effectiveness. For truly disgruntled staff, there’s not much a manager can do except to make it known they are on the wrong bus. (And it’s often a couple of bad seeds that will set the toxic tone for a store.) A jewelry store is no place for people who throw their hands up in the air and declare, “This place sucks!” at every setback. 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