Hardware Retailing

FEB 2018

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 | February 2018 66 Center Hardware & Supply Co. chief operating officer Jamie Gentner of San Francisco agrees that vendors round out the training process and help employees pass along their knowledge to customers. "Product knowledge is huge, and some of the training always has to be hands-on," she told the audience. "It's critical to have someone in the territory to represent that brand." Working with vendors builds employees' confidence with products, which leads to stronger sales, says panelist Megan Menzer, owner of Newton's True Value in southeast Kansas. "Training is key for us. We're always looking for vendors to work with us on training, because the more comfortable employees are with a product, the easier it is to sell," she says. In addition to vendor training, NRHA's training programs are also a valuable resource for creating knowledgeable employees, says panelist Greg Schlect, owner of Greg's True Value in St. Francis, Wisconsin. Schlect's employees follow an outline of NRHA online training programs to get them up to speed on product knowledge. Once employees are trained, retaining the strong employees is also a challenge for independent retailers. Jake Smith, owner of Jared's Ace Hardware in Bishopville, South Carolina, told attendees that he keeps a checklist of employee tasks and offers incentives for performance, which has helped improve employee productivity at his business. "We're monitoring certain tasks employees are expected to complete, and we're monitoring how well they finish them," Smith says. "At the end of the quarter, those above expectations receive gift cards, but those who don't meet expectations aren't eligible for sales bonuses." Panelist Jeremy Melnick, who owns and operates eight Gordon's Ace Hardware stores in the Chicago area, says he understands that employees may not make their careers at his business, but he wants them to see Gordon's as a strong steppingstone to build their employment history. "When we recruit people, we say, 'Use us as a resume builder. You work hard here and look for your next job. You're either going to move up or move out.' Hopefully that strategy gets us people who are energetic," he says. "That culture is slowly making an impact for us." More Than Convenience While customer service has been the rallying cry among independent retailers as their key to competing against online retailers, it's quickly becoming apparent that the way brick-and-mortar retailers define service is evolving. "The old concept of customer service has changed," Dan Tratensek, executive vice president of NRHA and publisher of Hardware Retailing, told the audience. "With Amazon offering one-hour delivery in some areas and its ease of returns, convenience as service can't be what independent retailers rest their brands on anymore." The Product Areas Retailers Plan on Adding in the Next Year Respondents could select more than one answer. The Most Common Retail Management Certification Program Business Improvement Projects Respondents could select more than one answer. Lawn, Garden & ODL Other* Plumbing Paint & Sundries Electrical Building Materials Housewares Builders Hardware Power Tools Hand Tools Inventory Control Developing Training Programs Developing Process and Procedures Adding a New Location Adding Niche Programs Upgrading Infrastructure Store Reset Source: NRHA/Hardware Retailing *Top Other categories include outdoor power; farm and ranch; small engine; and cabinets and doors. 56% 44% 37% 36% 26% 19% 18% 7% 10% 16% To learn more about these business improvement projects and how to create your own, visit nrharmcp.com.

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