My first real job (I worked summer camps prior) was working in a local jewelry store with one of my best friends (she helped get me the job, #bffgoals) when I was 17. After that I worked in retail and in a restaurant while I was in college. When I graduated I started working part time again while I was figuring out my business and trying to figure out what the fuck I was doing. Then for awhile I worked full time as a key holder and assistant manager, so I definitely have experience in the retail game. As I was working on my design business and even now after leaving my retail job, I still remember a lot of the lessons I learned and how they help me now. So these are the top 5 lessons working retail taught me about running a business.
1. Share the benefits & Ask for the sale
Working in a bigger retail store, part of our job was to sell credit cards. Although, not gonna lie, almost every employee hated doing this (so don’t shoot the messenger when people ask), but it was a requirement when we were on cash register duties. Anyways, we were taught that we needed to ask EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. when they were checking out. And when we did, that we had to sell the benefits of getting the card (which included a discount on their first purchase). The goal was also to have 1 person sign up out of every 100 people. But again, it was important to ask everyone.
As I look back, it makes perfect sense when it comes to running a business to always ask for the sale and to also always be promoting the benefits of what you offer vs just the tangible goods. Because the truth is, if you don’t ask for the sale, the answer will always be no. So whether you’re selling services or have a shop, ask & share the benefits!
2. make things as clear as possible (people get confused easily)
I’m going to say this as kindly as possible but the truth is, people will get confused over the simplest thing if it’s not crystal clear. And even then, people are still going to ask you crazy questions. So whether it’s your policies, your contracts, your offerings, your website copy, your ads, etc.. focus on being clear not clever! Then bold words, underline them, do everything you can to make it as easy as possible for your customer to understand. Because if they don’t, they will either get upset or they will leave.
3. Have strong policies and boundaries and actually follow through
Going along with making things clear, make sure you have a return policy and/or any other policy and boundaries and actually stick to them! I do think it’s okay to make exceptions when it’s properly called for, but in most cases it’s not. And the problem is that it opens the floodgates for people to ignore your policies. This does not mean it’s okay to be impolite when something does come up, it’s more to make sure that expectations are set for everyone involved and that those are being respected.
4. be f*cking nice to everyone
Be nice. That’s really all. People are people and you never know what they are going through, so be kind as much as possible. This really does matter and provide a great level of customer service that is never forgotten.
5. everyone communicates differently
When I was in a keyholder / manager possible I learned that everyone communicates differently. Some people require more step by step detailed instructions, while others just need an overview in order to get started. This was something I didn’t really understand until I learned about it and it’s helped me immensely as both a business owner and a person. If you don’t know how people communicate, ask them. Once you figure things out more, it will make delegating and getting things done much more efficiently and with happier team members around you.
I think working retail gets a lot of unnecessary flack and disrepect but it’s honestly some of the hardest work that I’ve done and it’s taught me a lot. These were the top 5 lessons working retail taught me about running a business but there are so many more. I hope this helps and gives you a bit of insight and info to help you with your business!