Hardware Retailing

MAR 2018

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

Issue link: https://hardwareretailing.epubxp.com/i/945288

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Page 42 of 114

HARDWARE RETAILING | March 2018 36 Checkouts EMPLOYEE TRAINING Hands-On Training Brings Retailers Together W hen it comes to helping customers with a project, the best advice often comes from someone who has done the project themselves. That was the kind of knowledge Jamie Gentner, chief operating office of Center Hardware & Supply in San Francisco, wanted to offer her employees. Last year, she and several other independent hardware stores in the area hosted their first how-to project knowledge seminar. "I'm part of a group of retailers that meets every few months to talk about business," she says. "We've all had the idea for a while that a hands-on seminar would be good. But doing that on our own would be expensive, so we wondered if we could do it together." Gentner found an instructor at a local community college who was willing to teach the classes. Employees would learn how to do basic plumbing and electrical projects, such as wiring a switch or connecting the different types of pipe. Twenty students attended the two-day seminar. The total price, which included materials and paying the instructor, came to about $200 per day, per student. Several stores in the group sent one or two students they thought would most benefit from further knowledge. With the success of the first class, Gentner and her fellow retailers hosted their second class in February. "There is a tremendous value to this type of hands-on learning," she says, but bringing students from different stores together had its own value, too. "There's also a benefit to these employees being in a group with others who have similar jobs. It's a time to interact and share ideas. There is a lot of community and connectedness along with the learning." In the electrical seminar, hosted by Center Hardware & Supply, employees had the opportunity to complete several projects, giving them hands-on knowledge so they would be better prepared to answer customers' questions. Looking for creative ways to engage customers? Whether it's promotions, merchandising or special events, we cover it here. Have an idea? Contact Melanie Moul at mmoul@nrha.org to have your story considered for publication.

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