Ten Tips to Maintain Your Greatest Asset

by Suzanne Courvisier-Mathis staffing expert

Maintaining a solid selling and managerial staff is absolutely one of the most challenging opportunities that jewelers face every day.  So how do you find and maintain your greatest asset — your people?

Listed below are the ten staffing tips that have the potential to save your store thousands of dollars.

1.  Build staffing needs into your business plan. Your staffing needs and their associated costs, including time and turnover, should be part of your annual business plan. Each position turned over in your store will cost you between 1.5 and 3 times the salary to replace. Eighty percent of turnover is due to “bad hiring,” so having good recruiting strategies are essential.

2.  Make recruiting a part of your weekly to-do list. Recruiting should be part of your daily routine. You should have your eyes peeled for good talent. You’ve heard the term “Always be selling.”  Now add, “Always be recruiting.”

3.  Plan well in advance for Christmas, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. These are the times when you need additional staff, so do not fool yourself into thinking that you can hire qualified jewelry selling staff and train them in a month. Budget for more positions, and allow a few months for training, and company culture adjustments. This way you will not be left stranded during your most critical times of the year.

4.  Offer recruiting bonuses to employees. Offer incentives and contests to encourage current employees to recruit and you will be surprised at how many potential employees will be found. Make your incentives generous enough to motivate your employees. If you are unsure of what to offer, ask your team how much they feel would be fair. You may want to offer additional incentives for the “most recruits in a month” as well.

5.  Keep employees involved in the process. Send your sales people out in teams, preferably male-female, to shop your competition. Devise a report form and a scoring system on elements including customer service, greeting, sales techniques, and product knowledge. Ask your team whom they would hire and why. Discussing the findings at meetings helps your employees gauge their own strengths and provides a way for them and for you to determine your business’s staffing needs. This saves you time in recruiting the right people and cuts down on hiring mistakes.

6.  Use employee evaluation to cut your losses. There is a 20-70-10 ratio we use in staffing: 20% are your best performers, 70% are your consistent performers, and 10% are not pulling their weight. Establish an evaluation system for your employees and make sure their performance accountability is clear. Hr.Tools.com notes a 10% loss for every under performing employee. As part of your evaluation, counsel the 10% and set up an improvement plan with deadlines. If after counseling you are still are not satisfied, cut your loses and terminate them.

Reward the 90% with incentives, and most of all thank them for their efforts.  The value of thank you is sorely under utilized in some companies we visit. It costs you nothing, and your gains will be enormous.  Everyone likes to be thanked for a job well done.

7.  Invest in training programs your employees. This is a short-term investment for a long-term return.  Do not make the mistake of thinking that your employees will continue to grow and improve on their own. It is your responsibility to ensure your employees are nourished every day with good training material. There are numerous jewelry sales training programs to help you train your employees. GIA offers some fabulous on-line courses. If you invest in your employees and show an interest in their professional growth, you will continue to build loyalty, reducing turnover.

8.  Utilize background and credit checks ALWAYS. Do not ever assume that because you know a person unless you know his or her credit history or even criminal history. There are many good actors out there! When hiring a new employee always run a credit and nationwide background checks. This small investment will save you thousands of dollars in shrink costs, not to mention emotional cost. Make sure candidates know this is an expectation and always get a release form signed. If candidates come clean with bad credit history, use your judgment and instincts. The associated cost for full background and credit checks is usually $75.00-$100.00 dollars.

9.  Outsource time-consuming recruiting tasks. Going though hundreds of resumes takes a massive amount of time, and if you are not accustomed to looking at resumes quickly this task can be very arduous. Ask yourself what your time is worth and decide which sources will help you save time and money. Utilize recruiting firms’ database of candidates and job postings. The most reputable firms extensively screen candidates further saving you time.

 10.   Build a relationship with a jewelry-recruiting firm.  Establish a good relationship with a recruiting firm whom you trust.

The better firms will get to know you, and your staff personally, enabling them to better identify potential candidates that will fit into your organization, this means visiting your company. There are many factors to consider when identifying top talent. The firms that have taken the responsibility to get to know you and your culture best are those who will be most successful. Better firms will also conduct background, credit checks and personality profiling as part of their service. This information should be provided to you for your records. Your people are your business! Investing in your greatest asset will always yield long-term returns for your company

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