Professional Jeweler Archive: The Manager as Teacher . . . Going Back to Basics

May 2000

Managing/Sales Training

The Manager as Teacher . . . Going Back to Basics

A new series of articles will help you organize ongoing training for your staff

Fast food is great but there’s nothing like home cooking. Videos are great, but Bogie still looks better on the big screen. You can’t beat a word processing program for convenience, but who would prefer receiving a computer-generated thank-you note to a carefully thought-out handwritten one?

Our lives and lifestyles have changed dramatically in recent years. Technology and the economy have allowed – or forced – many of us to throw off the simple, basic trappings of the past and enter the complex, high-speed whirl of today.

But just as we occasionally long to get up from the computer, put on a soft, comfy robe and read a great classic in front of a roaring fire, so must we all go back to basics from time to time, even in our businesses.

As sales trainers, we speak constantly about how an effective training program can motivate sales associates to reach new heights. But return to the store where that training took place 30-60 days later, and we sometimes find but a vague reminder of the happy recent past.

We should live by two fundamental tenets of training:

  • Always go back to basics.
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition!

In an effort to combine these tenets and make your life as a training owner or manager a whole lot easier, we have a deal to offer you.

Create Your Own Lesson Plans

Over the next several months, we will use this column to provide you with the information you need to create a series of weekly or monthly training sessions for your salespeople. We’ll offer a subject, cover the key points, maybe even provide you with an outline you can use as your lesson plan.

The topics will be fundamental. We’re going back to basics, after all, because that’s where success begins. All we ask in return is your faith. Try in earnest to use these lessons to raise the bar for your newer associates and to refresh and remotivate the seasoned ones.

Make training meetings a religion. Show your staff members you care about their progress and success – every Tuesday morning, every other Friday or the second Saturday of every month. Post a schedule and force yourself to comply or have to make excuses.

Don’t prejudge the material as being too elementary. We’ve had 20-year veterans tell us they dreaded having to attend a training session because they thought they knew it all. How pleased they were, though, to pick up a trick or two or be reminded of methods they’d forgotten long ago.

Everyone benefits from training – even the trainer, who often learns from the trainees. The smartest retailers retain or employ specialists for ongoing training of all staff, regardless of length of service.

Begin with a Review

Here are a few tips to review before you begin your sessions:

1. Announce the meetings with the most positive spin you can create. Sales associates need to perceive classes as an opportunity, not as drudgery.
2. Keep the sessions brief, light and simple. Even the sleepiest student can stay involved for 30 minutes. Serve some refreshments; start on schedule; show them you mean business.
3. Incorporate something that will keep them interested. Don’t read or lecture. Let your staff participate. Elicit responses. Share anecdotes. Include role-play. Create games, even contests. Use a video clip where appropriate. Our part is to give you an outline, to get you started; you’ll customize it to your personality, your business, your situation.
4. Let students teach occasionally. If you’re fortunate enough to have a great resource on your staff, take advantage. If you have a spectacular closer, for example, let her lead the class on closing.
5. Quiz your staff then follow up with role-play at the counter during the next several days and weeks. Follow-up is another key to success.

We’re only five months into the millennium, not at all too late to add a resolution to your list. Resolve to train regularly. We’ll help, and you’ll see results.

– by Christine Anzell & Jack Levenson

To order Anzell & Levenson’s jewelry-specific Client Record Keeping Book or Sales Training Manual (see ad in Professional Jeweler’s Marketplace), call (800) 887-8902.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications