Staff training is absolutely vital, especially today when stores have to give consumers a reason to shop in store rather than online.
Here, leading brands and retailers reveal their top training advice…
MIX IT UP
When training staff of a variety of ages, skill levels and learning styles, it’s important to make sure you are catering to each individual’s needs. While some might learn best in quick burst sessions, other may prefer an extended time listening, learning and taking notes, and others may prefer to do role plays and have group discussions. There is no ‘one way fits all’ solution, so make sure you mix up the way you are training your staff. Allum & Sidaway managing director, confirms: “We find a variety of training methods work best. We offer group training sessions in store alongside individual learning, supported by our own presentations that available for every employee to access on a cloud system.” Jeremy France director, Harriet France, echoes: “We try and use a mix of print out work books (with spaces for notes) and power point presentations alongside group discussion activities, which will involve changing seats to form new groups and sharing ideas on flip charts. We find that using a variety of training styles keeps engagement levels higher. We all remember dull teachers at school who just talked at you and that certainly isn’t effective for most people.”
USE DIGITAL PLATFORMS
Many of your staff members will be avid mobile phone users, with millennials or under living enjoying the interaction digital devices provide. Why not find a way to put training on the very object they carry round with them every day? Swarovski UK managing director, Hayley Quinn, explains: “We approach learning via a layered approach. To cater for millennials we have the small bites of training in digital formats, as we know they like to scan materials and lift what they need. For other age ranges we have an option to click for more in depth information, as we know that they feel more comfortable with more knowledge. We offer blended learning that allows us to reach all age ranges and learning preference types. Something for all.” Later this year Swarovski will be launching a training app which will offer regular, short and impactful sessions to enable agile learning.
GET BRANDS INVOLVED
If your store stocks brands, make sure to get them involved in the training process. Many jewellery brands would love the opportunity to spend more time with shop floor staff, and their knowledge will always be greater than a member of staff. Why not make the most of a brand’s passion and resources? It’s also important to make sure staff stay up to date on the new products brands are introducing, and even the campaigns they are running, in order to provide the very best service. Links of London wholesale manager, Jamiee Hollier, shares: “At Links of London we ensure our wholesale partners consistently hold a high level of understanding of the brand and the unique features and benefits of the beautiful products we offer. We offer bespoke one-day training workshops across different regions and our territory managers follow up with shop floor training during their regular store visits to ensure we meet each partner’s individual requirements.”
MAKE IT REGULAR
Why wait for a scheduled training day? Training is something that can be done on a regular weekly, or monthly basis, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Retailers and brands are developing ways to do bite-size ‘refresher’ sessions in morning meetings, or while it’s quite on the shop floor, and those doing this are finding it very effective. Nicholas Wylde for instance picks a topic of the month and shuts shop early once a month to do a session on this subject with shop floor staff, and he also has a weekly meetings where employees receive refresher training. He explains: “We just repeat stuff – for example a VAT refund, we only do one or two a month, so it’s a refresher so staff remember how to do it when it does come about.”
LEAVE THE STORE
While in-store training is fantastic, and should be done regularly, it’s always a good idea to have some sessions outside the store and away from the retail environment. This could be doing a team away day, or taking some members to a nearby location for an afternoon, but it also includes signing staff up to external training programmes, for which in our industry there are many. David M Robinson’s London manager, Sandy Madhvani, shares: “Training that is off site works really well and this way the teams get to network with other members in the trade.” Jeremy France director, Harriet France, adds: “We actively take staff away from the shop and use a local conference room to ensure there are none of the day-to-day distractions. Of course half hour training on a particular gemstone can be done in store but we try and do these at times when interruptions are unlikely.”