January 24, 2018
One of the best ways that grocers can keep customers coming back is to give them an excellent shopping experience, and that often starts with a high-quality grocery staff. But finding top-notch talent can be a challenge for retailers. Grocers can counter those challenges by looking for a few telltale traits up front, which can help solidify the odds of finding and keeping excellent staff.
Seek high-level customer service
Although some grocers consider scheduling flexibility the top trait they seek when recruiting retail staff, it’s actually not the best way to find talent that will last, says Mike Hamaker, director of grocery recruiting with iRiS Recruiting Solutions. Instead, he advises, look for applicants with excellent customer service skills.
“This stands the test of time,” Hamaker said. “Grocery stores are currently in a state of change. Customer service is one aspect of each grocery store that must remain present and strong. Without strong customer service, the experience in the store will diminish and so will the customers.”
In other words, Hamaker stresses, grocers should look at interviewees as a shopper would — not as the store manager would. “Flexibility is nice, but not really a trait that makes a grocer who they are. When we go shop a store, we don’t go there for flexibility of the associates, we go there because of price, convenience, service or selection,” he said. “The one thing that remains after everything else is how we are treated and felt about our service, that is what brings customers back time and time again.”
Look for willingness, drive
In addition to seeking interviewees with strong customer service skills, you should also look for applicants who have a strong work ethic, says Julie Curtis of Curtis Food Recruiters, which places executive-level leaders within grocery retail, wholesale and food manufacturing.
“Candidates that have a proven track record of a good work ethic will move your business forward much more than someone that can work the late shift,” Curtis says. “People that have a willingness and drive to learn your business will be the best hires. The retailer must them give them opportunities to take on cross-functional roles and more responsibility. Most people want an opportunity to grow their career, so give them a road map.”
Once hired, hold employees accountable
After a store hires staff members, management should both nurture them and hold them accountable, Hamaker says. “Store-level associates are the first line of defense against the competition. The reality for many retailers/grocers who don’t differentiate themselves will be extinction. There isn’t room for average retailers with the level of competition continuing to increase.”
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