1. Hire snow sports enthusiasts who are committed to learning and delighting your customers.
The snow season is nearly upon us once again. If you’re a retailer in the industry, it’s time to staff up so you can handle the influx of customers that will hit your stores between now and January, all looking to upgrade their snow gear. So you’ve got to bring in some seasonal workers to compliment your core staff to capture those sales. While there are many types of seasonal workers you can hire, it might be easy to think that because they’re temporary and relatively low cost, you don’t need to be that selective. However, your customers may have a different perspective as they’ll be looking to shop at stores where they know they’ll get a friendly and knowledgeable sales associate. Someone, who can help them buy the right equipment for their unique needs this season, so they can fully enjoy their time on the slopes. Its best then to hire store sales associates who have a passion for the sport and who can identify with your customers. Some prior knowledge of retail is also a plus, but most importantly, their motivation to quickly learn the required core skills of retail store operations, product knowledge, sales and customer service, is critical.
2. Give them Retail Training that they’ll use and understand.
Most of your seasonal workers are likely to be Millennials who’ve grown up with the Web, YouTube, Facebook and Smartphones. If you want them to actually use and understand your training don’t load them down with a heavy curriculum using training manuals or PDFs consisting mostly of text with some images – and don’t over-emphasize compliance. They’ll be resistant to this approach and it will be too time consuming. Instead, get them focused on the essential product knowledge and sales skills they’ll need to come up to speed on the latest snow sports gear so they’ll be able to help your customers make the right purchases from your stores. While you may have some permanent staff who’ve received offsite or onsite training from some of your brand suppliers, those staff will be too busy during peak season to train your seasonal workers. Even if they had the time, it’s not clear they’re always skilled in training other staff effectively or in getting everyone together to take training. Instead, train your seasonal workers with short form video content that they can access online from anywhere, including from their tablets or phones at home, on their way to work or even on the shop floor. The best practice here is to keep the content to under 3 minutes per training module, to have no more than 3-5 questions to answer per module, and to have no more than 3-5 modules per training program. Do this, and your permanent staff will train up comprehensively as well.
3. Collect, curate and create the best brand and expert content for training.
Most of your brand suppliers have created short videos on their latest and best products whether for direct training or marketing purposes. Just do a search on YouTube and you’ll be amazed! Talk directly with your brands to collect and connect their video content to your stores and staff for instant and effective training. If a particular brand or product is not available then leverage your best employees who are experts in a particular product category or who have special skills in sales and customer service, to simply create the content. They can do this at home or at the store with a video camera (and yes, even an iPhone will work). After the video is created, relevant questions and answers can be added to create a completed training module and to test staff on the content. You might be surprised to find how authentic and professional this content coming from your own staff can look and how much your other employees will engage with peer-created content as a result.
4. Motivate and reward your staff for successful retail training.
If you’ve hired staff who are passionate about snow sports and who care about the customer experience in your stores, then they’ll enjoy learning about the latest equipment and associated retail skills. That is, if you provide them with the right kind of content that will help them learn and do better at their jobs. You can add some extra incentive by creating a data-driven feedback loop so that your staff can see how well they’re doing on training and where they can find extra improvement. You can also spice things up by awarding expert badges in certain categories and by passing through any brand related incentives associated with training, such as discounts on snow sports gear. You can even offer some of your own for outstanding performance or expert achievement. Effective training will make the customer experience in your stores a superior one and your seasonal workers, as knowledgeable sales staff, will look forward to their interactions with your customers.
5. Review training with your staff and customers to find areas for rapid skills improvement.
Your staff are your store’s ambassadors – they’re on the front lines engaging with your best customers throughout the buying season. If they’ve taken your retail training, they’ll know from practice and experience how much it’s helping. They’ll also know where there are gaps and what could be done to fill them in. So encourage your staff to make a contribution to the training system by offering feedback and suggestions for improvement. They’ll know when they’ve nailed it on the shop floor with a customer and when they’ve come up short. In this way, not only will your training program progressively improve, your staff will become stakeholders in cultivating the culture of training and providing a first class customer experience in your retail stores. Finally, ask your customers for feedback on their shopping experience. You can do this at checkout in a number of ways, for example, by handing them a receipt with a discount code for taking a short online survey. This will provide you with a wealth of information as to how staff retail training is improving the experience and at the same time, gives the customer another opportunity to engage with your brand and visit your store again to collect on the discount while buying some more gear.