Hardware Retailing

JUN 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 | June 2018 44 "A younger person is more likely to question the 'why' of situations or practices. For someone a bit older and experienced, that can come across as disrespectful," Ashley says. Maffei says she understands that not all younger employees are interested in a career in the hardware sector and therefore she doesn't resent employees who don't seek deeper product knowledge. However, something she will actively seek to correct is a mistake involving sales skills and customer service. Having experienced hands like baby boomers on staff can fill the product knowledge gaps, she says, but nothing can fix a store that has inattentive employees. Badger's experience at Fusek's True Value has reflected that focus on customer service. As a younger employee, he's been trained throughout his time in retail hardware on the importance of customer service in the independent sector, and based on that emphasis, he has made great efforts to succeed in that area. Both younger and older generations have seen a lack of motivation for quality customer service inhibit an entire staff. If an age difference is involved, either with an older, more seasoned employee lacking motivation or a younger employee showing a disinterest in putting their best effort into customer interactions, it can exacerbate the issue. "Big boxes have a lot of advantages over us, but they don't have the employees that we do," Maffei says. "That's each generation, because I've seen customers enjoy interacting with young people while they're shopping, and I've seen younger customers getting great lessons from experienced hands. If there's any focus that every generation can be involved in, it's how we value the customer and serve community members that seek out our help." Gwen Maffei (right) interacts with co-workers from multiple generations in her duties at Akard True Value, including co-owner Leigh Ann Akard. The business employs associates from a broad range of age groups and experience levels. " If there's any focus that every generation can be involved in, it's how we value the customer and serve community members that seek out our help. " —Gwen Maffei, Akard True Value

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