Don't worry, this isn't another article about how to make your employees feel good about themselves. While this is, of course, very important, there are plenty of other articles that will do this for you. In fact, at the bottom of this article, you will find links to some of the ones that we like.
While this may not be another post about making your staff feel good, it is about building their confidence when selling the products you spent so much time picking out to sell in your store. As a store owner, you are likely wearing many hats, and there's always too much to do in the day. Of course it would be nice to delegate to your employees, but they likely haven't gained your trust nor are they as passionate enough as you may be.
Once this is realized, the question then becomes: How do you take a regular pet store associate and turn them into a real asset for your store? The first step is to build employee confidence within your pet store.
Step 1: Let them Try Products at Home
Chances are, your employees probably have pets at home that they are taking care of on a daily basis. Why not take advantage of that? It's important to invest in people who love and use the products that they're selling, because they will be that much more passionate about selling them.
Additionally, many products are better sold through experiences than just by being displayed on a store shelf. For example, Applaws' cat food is so high quality that nearly all of the products have transparent packaging which allows both the consumer and your staff to see the actual product. However, what about the other senses?
By allowing your employee to take the food home and use it with their pets (or as their lunch!), they will be allowed the opportunity to see, smell, feel, and even taste the quality of the food. Not only that, but they'll receive a unique experience of seeing a real-time snapshot of how an animal would react to it. This is a great way to build your employee's confidence as he/she is on the sales floor speaking with a consumer.
Hint: Don't want to cut your margin by giving away free food and products for your employees to use? Try reaching out to your rep and request some samples. Anyone willing to help you boost sales will gladly send you some!
Step 2: Create a Focus Month with Specific Themes
Here comes the fun part: Designate each month as a focus month around a particular brand, department, product type, or any way you'd like to spin it. For example, you can have one month focus on dry cat food, the next month on wet cat food, the next as dry dog food, and so on.
Once you come up with your prefered categories, you can then hold events and store-wide competitions for your employees. Not only does this build employee confidence and moral by allowing them to enjoy their time at work, but it will also educate them on topics such as nutrition, excercise, and other pet-related training.
For example, Pet Food Express has a month in the Summer that focuses solely on hydration. Throughout this month, they feature water bowls, fountains, wet food and broth (such as Fruitables' new Broth Bowls), and other similar products.
This is your opportunity to be creative and run some fun events and promotions that will keep both your employees and your customers fully engaged with your store.
Step 3: Educate, Educate, Educate
This is the mantra we all have heard many times before, and is likely something you're already doing. With that said, if you're reading this, then your methods are likely not working out. Whether it's because your employees aren't retaining the information they're given, or because you don't have the time to do extensive training in the first place, sometimes that five-letter-word is much easier said than done. However, having well-educated sales associates is one way to build employee confidence in your pet store.
One way to boost confidence may be to change the way you go about educating your employees. Some methods to consider include:
- Taking advantage of your manufacturer or distributor sales reps by requesting supplemental information that your employees can refer to in-store at any time
- Ask your rep to come in store to do a fun and interactive learning session (we know, many of these can get boring and monotonous, but I'm sure if you request it then maybe they'll do something more fun for you!)
- Hint: To make sure the training is worth-while, consider requesting an agenda and a draft of the presentation they plan to give. This way you can make any suggestions to create a more interactive training session.
- Enroll your employees in online training sessions through programs like Pet Store Pro
- See if your rep has any webinars and other more interactive education materials
- Turn it into a game! Participating in the events and competitions mentioned above will naturally and easily train your store associates, and once implemented, will already be built into your daily routines.
According to a lesson in Pet Store Pro, "Poor performance can also be caused by associates lacking confidence in their ability to complete a particular task successfully. You can build employees' confidence by reassuring them that their feelings are normal, challenging their negative perceptions and offering concrete help to overcome obstacles."
You may also want to consider what type of learner each of your employee is. By tailoring your education strategies to their individual (or collective, if there's a common theme) learning styles, you'll find that they will generally respond much better.
Hint: Once you find out the best way for your employees to learn, tell your rep so they can tailor any training materials and sessions to their specific style of learning.
Do you have any specific methods you've found works for you and your store? How about as an employee?
"Feel Good" Articles About Boosting Employee Confidence
Success.com - 7 Ways to Build Your Employees' Self Confidence
Fierce Health Care - 5 Low-Cost Ways to Boost Employee Competence and Confidence (while it's directed toward the health-care industry, there's a few points in here which are really great for all industries)
When I Work - 10 Steps to Increasing Employee Loyalty
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Hoffman – E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Manager joined the All Points family in April of 2015. Ashley brings a fresh outlook to the marketing industry as well as a constant desire for learning something new. She is dedicated to consistently improving her skills and efficiency in the marketing industry and using those skills to promote APM and all brands we represent. Ashley has grown up with many animals throughout her life and is currently the loving owner of two cats.
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