Behind the Counter: Hire, Train, and Retain


Hiring new staff members for your store can be challenging; believe me, I know. But there’s more to just bringing the right candidates into your shop, you need to know how to retain them while helping them to gain confidence in our fast-paced (and at times stressful) work environment.

HIRING: what to look for and how to do it

It all starts with attitude. When your candidate first shows up at your store, let them wait a few moments on the sales floor. Watch how they interact with your employees and other customers. Do they look lost? Are they making the most of their time or standing in a corner trying to stay out of the way? First impressions are important, and you need a confident person with personality. Here are a few items to pay attention to during the interview process:

  • Appearance – Do they take care of themselves? Are they well-groomed and dressed properly for the occasion (pressed clothes, clean shoes, etc)?
  • Do they have something to take notes on with them? Do they have questions for you ready?
  • Body language – are they confident? Do they offer to shake your hand? Do they walk with a purpose or are they timid?
  • Does your gut instinct tell you that they are giving you truthful answers? Never penalize a candidate for telling the truth – good or bad.  Appreciate their honesty, that is a quality you’re looking for after all.
  • Do they speak badly of their former employers? It’s fine for them to speak their mind, but it should be with tact.  If they degrade their former boss, be wary.
  • Be open and honest with them throughout your questioning. Don’t paint a perfect picture of your company and tell them they can make millions. No matter how badly you may want the candidate, there’s no reason to sugarcoat the truth. Let them know that it takes hard work and dedication to become great within your organization.
  • Do they ask you questions at the end? It’s always positive when they ask you what the next step is and when can they expect to hear from you.
  • Have another manager or employee conduct a brief interview, either now or at a later date. It’s always good to get at least two opinions. I always suggest having their potential supervisor interview to make sure that they “connect”.
  • If you like them, schedule a shadow session (during a busy time) so that they can meet the team and see how the day flows. This is a tough business! They need to see as much as they can handle before coming on board. Watch how they interact with existing team members (watch how they get along) and clients (approach or avoid).  You need a strong personality and a go-getter. Remember, you’re looking for a long term addition to your team – never hire for short term in this business. It’s a relationship business, and your clients deserve continuity with employees.


TRAINING: Too much is never enough

The process isn’t over when you select which candidate you want to hire. We often just throw people to the wolves and do not pay them the attention that they need. Think about it; if you hadn’t had someone to show you the ropes in this business, would you be where you are now? Training new employees correctly is an investment within an investment.

  • Keep them off the floor for at least 2-3 days. Have a spot set aside where someone can spend time with them to learn the business, specifically your business. Make them fully aware of what you expect from them (customer service, daily tasks, team goals, etc) before they ever step foot on your sales floor.
  • Pair them up with a top employee for the next few days. Be sure to compensate that employee for helping train your new hires. They will be taking time away from working with customers, so they may earn less commission during this time. You need someone reliable and experienced to train all new hires.  Success breeds success.
  • Make sure that you or your manager spends time with them each day before they leave. Answer any questions they may have and recap their day. Make sure that they always leave on a positive note, no matter how hard their day (or yours) may have been. The first week is the most pivotal, and can ensure longevity or a quick departure depending on how it’s handled.
  • The following Monday, review their first week. Go over wins/losses and reiterate what you expect from them. Briefly quiz them to make sure that they are retaining the info you want them to. Have them run a couple transactions and look up inventory to make sure they are confident when using the system.


RETENTION: Insure your investment

When you bring on a new hire, you don’t want them leaving after a couple of months. The time and energy you put into hiring and training them is necessary, and so is the attention you put into keeping well-trained talent at your shop for the long haul.

  • When you see something, say something!  Always do mini “one-on-ones” daily with all employees to see how they’re handling their goals. Never wait to correct bad behavior or praise good habit – do it immediately. But remember: praise in public and scold in private. Never make an example of someone.
  • Start each day with a recap and what you expect out of today with the entire morning crew. Find a way to praise and train during this meeting. This a great time to hand out gift cards for employees who hit quotas.
  • Have monthly, private one-on-one sessions with each employee to discuss performance and what you expect for the next month. Adjust goals accordingly, that way issues won’t sneak up on either one of you.
  • Perform 30/60/90 day reviews for all new hires, with bi-annual reviews for all staff members, including managers.
  • Greet your staff each morning and show interest in their life – you probably spend more time with your staff than you do your own family! Thank them each evening for their work and be specific! “Hey John, great job on that Rolex loan today, really liked the way you handled the customer. Paul, nice work selling that lawn mower. I think showing them how to change the blade closed the sale for you.”


You want to strive to have all A-grade players, but don’t sit back and wait for the right person to come to you. You should constantly be on the lookout for talent to upgrade your team. There are two ways to get A-grade players; hire them from day one, or teach them how to reach the top. Not all hires will be A-grade, and that’s fine! Don’t waster your time trying to teach a chicken to fly like an eagle. Never let personal affairs (family, friends, etc) get in the way of making your team the best it can be. And lastly, it’s always OK to admit that you made a bad hire, just fix it quickly by finding the right talent.