Skip to main content

Staff training sets the foundation for success

Investing time and energy into a training staff pays off in higher stores sales and greater retention.

Training is the key to success both for the store and the employee. Unfortunately, training sometimes can be a weak link in the hiring process due to shortage of staff to do the training and lack of time. The store manager or owner needs to set the store standards and consistently communicate what the store’s mandate is.  If the mandate is to consistently “Wow” our customers, then the store manager needs to walk that talk and lead by example.

Set the foundation

The best advice is to start with the basics. Ensure that all the staff are trained in the key aspects of their role. With the high turnover of front-line staff this can be challenging. Many organizations make use of on-line training modules which teach the basic principles of customer service and basic safe operation practices. This is a great starting point, particularly for staff with no experience working in a store in a customer service role.

Train the trainer

Using a "train the trainer" process yields the best hands-on training results. Selecting the appropriate trainer is key to the success of this initiative. The trainer must be skilled at their role but also be willing to train someone else. This will require patience and excellent communication skills. 

Passing the torch

There should be key milestones set for the trainee by the manager to show that they are making progress. Slowly, the trainer needs to take a back seat the trainee and let them perform the tasks themselves. Performing a task is the best way of learning and allows the trainer to correct any issues before they become bad habits. The rule of thumb for trainees should be to observe, take notes, and then do.

When training customer service staff for the convenience stores the process should be as follows:

  • SMILE and make eye contact with the customer as they enter the store.
  • Acknowledge the customer in a friendly professional manner:  Hello, Hi, Good Day (not Hey…too informal and colloquial).
  • Efficiently process the sale: know how to manage items that do not scan, for example.
  • Up-sell:  Ensure that up-sell is relevant (i.e. don’t try to sell a car wash on a rainy day, do remind customer to buy windshield washer fluid if a storm is coming or point out a promotion).
  • Thank the customer and provide receipt.

Try and make the customer’s day. It is not difficult to do, but friendly interactions are less common in the new post-pandemic world we live in today. We need to talk to one another live, in person and not virtually. It will make your employees’ day better, too, when they receive positive responses from the customers. The staff need to be authentic, exhibit positive body language, smile, and have a happy persona.

Establish rules upfront 

  • Air pods should be banned in the store for all employees serving the customer.
  • Cell phones also should be out of sight of customer, ideally left in the employee locker. They are here to work, not to be on their phones. Nothing makes the customer feel more unimportant than being served while the cashier is on the phone. At minimum, the cashiers must be trained to put down the phone if they are speaking on the store phone when a customer enters the store.
  • Acknowledge regular customers: Make them feel like they are important, so they want to come back.
  • Get out from behind the counter: Stock the store, clean the floors, shelves.
  • Welcome people, talk to them as you would want to be greeted.
  • Have positive body language: No crossed arms, unhappy demeanour.
  • Do not have conversations with other staff members in the presence of a customer.
  • Be aware of your environment:  Is your car wash working??  Are all the pumps working properly?
  • Make sure the self-service options are working. For instance, is there receipt paper in the outside pumps? Nothing more annoying than having to come into the store to get a receipt.
  • Check and clean the washrooms.
  • Embrace community, but don’t become a hang out because this image may dissuade some customers from coming into the store. 
  • Do not allow outside salespeople to approach your customers in the parking lot or at the pumps.
  • Ensure all products are within code. Teach staff how to check codes so that nothing in the store is expired.
  • Regularly clean doors and windows ensuring they unobstructed. Customers will be more likely to enter the store if they can see inside clearly.
  • Be clear on emergency procedures.

The pay off 

Training takes resources: time and energy but it will pay off. Not only will the employees feel equipped to do the job correctly, but they will also make the store successful in meeting its mission and vision. This will translate into more sales and long-term success.  It will also give the store manager/owner time to work on new innovations for the business and not have to focus as much on the day-to-day operations because well trained staff have the skills to execute effectively and deliver on the customer promise.

More Blog Posts in This Series

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds