Train 'Em and Retain 'Em: 7 Tips for Hiring Great Retail Staff

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Oct 11, 2018

Oct 11, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

In 2016, there were almost five million people employed as retail workers in the United States. At one time or another, you might have been a retail worker. That means you'd know firsthand the importance of hiring a competent retail staff.

Yet the turnover rate for retail staff is high, at 23-percent.

So, how do you find good retail employees? Once you find them, how do you keep them?

Check out our seven tips for finding dedicated retail staff members below.

7 Ways to Make Sure You Hire a Great Retail Staff

There's the obvious things that you're going to look for in your retail staff, like making sure they're dressed the part. But there's a little more involved in making sure that someone fits into the company culture. And some of them might be things that you never considered before.

When you have great customer service, it's likely to bring more foot traffic to your store. But if you don't have any foot traffic at all, there's no reason to have great customer service.

Get people talking about your store with a few extra tips. Read more to learn about ways to get foot traffic, then hire the perfect customer service team.

Hire With the Customer in Mind

Many managers and hiring managers choose the wrong employee because they didn't choose someone who keeps the customer in mind.

Don't hire someone only because they have past experience or you know they won't steal from you. Ask questions geared toward how they're going to interact with customers.

Get a feel for how your employees will treat other people through the questions you ask them. You don't always have to ask direct questions about this - even though you should - but other questions that determine their character can reveal how they'll interact with others.

Think About Availability

Many retail workers are part-time. Often, they're working other jobs or going to school.

This is how retail often works, but if you find people with more availability, they'll be able to work longer hours and work more shifts. This way, they'll be more invested in your company and be able to get acclimated with the culture.

In short, if they have more opportunity to work, they'll be more invested in your vision. Your scheduling will also be less of a nightmare.

Look at Past Behavior

Many application questions ask what employees are seeking for their future. These are important, but it's also necessary to look into the past.

Past behavior often defines what will happen in the future. Ask for specifics on their past. What's something concrete they can tell you about their old job?

If they can't answer with something solid and specific, they're not going to be able to do the same thing with your customers.

Answering questions about future plans can only go so far. After all, there's no physical evidence that your employee has the get-up and go to do what they're saying. But, it's still important that you get a feel for their dedication and commitment.

Don't Jump the Gun

You may feel as if you've found the perfect candidate and that's great! But hiring on the spot can be dangerous.

Make sure you continue interviewing other people and don't dismiss the chance you can find someone even better. Tell the potential employee to call you back the next day. That way, you've both had time to think about the position, and you've remained in control.

Look at the Negative

Again, you may think you've found that person who you connect with. Your gut is telling you that this will be a great new employee for you.

Don't trust your gut right away if you think the employee is hitting all the marks. Do what you can to find something that you don't like about them.

Ask them about a time that they didn't give very good customer service, and how they treated the situation.

Someone who's going to be a successful employee will be able to think of that situation and tell you how they would have behaved differently. Someone who might not be as much of an asset will tell you that they've never had a situation like that occur.

Sell Them on Yourself

Don't just interview the person to see if you like them. Make sure that they also like you.

Let them know about the environment they're going to be working in. This is a choice for them just as much as it's a choice for you.

It also helps your employees know what they're looking for. They can't tell you why you should hire them if they don't know what you want.

Tell them about the history of your company. Tell them what kind of management style you're going to use. Tell them what you want customers to see.

This way, they can see how their own personal style will fit in your business and if they should accept your offer. You don't want to spend valuable resources on someone who doesn't really want to work with you in the first place.

Chat about Some Hobbies

You need to know when you're hiring someone if they're going to play well with others, but it's hard to determine that until it's put into action.

A good way to see what someone will be like when working with a group is to ask what their interests are. Ask your potential employees about their hobbies.

If someone says they like to play video games or other solo activities, this may be a red flag they won't thrive in group interactions. This is not always true but it can be a contributing factor you can use when deciding who you want to hire.

Knowing about their hobbies can also tell you if they choose to actively participate with other people in their free time. Someone who participates in group activities in their spare time is going to be much more equipped to work with customers because it's something that they actually enjoy doing.

Make Your Business Boom

When you have your own business, there's a seemingly endless amount of moving parts you have to work with. But hiring the right retail staff is a huge step that's going to keep you moving forward.

When you have the right staff secure and in place, you can focus on other important aspects of your business, like the branding and the culture.

Don't delay: get out there and post that you're hiring on relevant job sites that are going to give you qualified candidates. The longer you wait, the more qualified candidates are getting snatched up by other companies!