Hardware Retailing

AUG 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | August 2017 52 Not Just Activities While both retailers dedicate time to activities like employee outings, communication activities and exercise programs, those aren't the foundations of their team-building endeavors. Those things are byproducts of a solid team working together, Dowdell says, not the first step to building a team. For Dowdell, it begins with a profile sheet asking each employee to identify which core values mean the most to them and why. It asks how interactions between employees and customers can be related back to these values and what an employee feels their role is in the culture. HomCo maintains a full-time trainer on staff as part of its onboarding process for new hires that is an integral part of its team-building environment, Callan says. Investing in a dedicated trainer not only helps a new hire learn the necessary job-specific skills, but it also immerses the new hire in the company's culture, attitude and dedication to its values. Not surprisingly, the trainer position is key for HomCo's success in team building. Staying consistent on the store's training philosophy has helped foster the communal environment they were seeking from the beginning, Callan says. "The position has really evolved from when we started," Callan says. "The trainer has to be well-versed in everything on the floor. It might be a luxury to have a full-time trainer, but we're putting a lot into our training." Outside Help Contractors and team-building experts can be great resources for retailers looking to revamp their culture and team dynamics, and both Livingston Ace and HomCo looked to outside sources for help in their own efforts. Having an outside perspective was key to identifying exactly what was causing the low engagement scores, Brackin says, but the more important benefit is the kind of crossing of ideas, methods and practices that can be difficult for a smaller retailer to achieve. "We are in a group of other retailers who work with the same contractor, and it's important due to one fact: You don't know what you don't know. Everyone thinks they're doing the right things, but this gets you out of your own tunnel and engaging with other people working through the same issues that you are," Brackin says. While budgeting the cost of an outside consultant can be a daunting task, Brackin says it is more about an attitude of listening to outside ideas. "Small retailers think they can't get that help, but they can. Maybe not always on the same level, but there are a lot of things out there to learn. Even if resources are thin, you can determine your goals and go from there," Brackin says. The establishment of a strong company culture can help foster a better working relationship for all employees, from management to floor staff. " The trainer has to be well-versed in everything on the floor. It might be a luxury to have a full-time trainer, but we're putting a lot into our training. " —Todd Callan, HomCo Lumber & Hardware

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