From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

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Good Help Hard to Find? Take the Hint!

As the Holiday Season approaches, finding good help promises to be especially challenging for retailers this year. 

Then, we read "10 Things to Know to Get And Keep Retail Jobs," a to-the-point commentary from Bob Phibbs*, who specializes in retail sales training. 

Here are his Top Ten recommendations for prospective retail employees:  

  • "Performance is Key"
  • "Treat Customers with Respect"
  • "Go the Extra Yard"
  • "Be on Time"
  • "Don't Gripe About the Hours"
  • "Be Flexible"
  • "Don't Be a Drag" 
  • "Be a Team Player"
  • "Respect the Rules"
  • "A Cut in Hours is a Sign"

What really caught our attention was, not only did Phibbs not mince words, in some instances he specified the consequences of failing to follow his guidelines. For instance, "If you aren't justifying the cost of your pay, you will be let go." Or, "I’m saying that one minute is too late!"

While Phibbs was directing his comments to prospective employees, we are focused on what it means for the owners. And that prompted us to wonder, is there in fact that level of accountability in retailing? 

Or, are we so concerned about "the difficulty of finding good help" that we tolerate the not-so-good help? That is a slippery slope!

So, here's a different approach.
If you can only find a few good people, why not take advantage of their strengths? And their presence?

How? Quit trying to staff all the hours you are open. Instead, consider reducing your store hours. Be open when your good people can be there. 

Instead of chasing after part-time seasonal help, concentrate your effort – and your good staff – on the hours you do want to be open. 

The point: Make it worth the customer's time to come to your store!

Here's how to get started:

  • Take advantage of that data inside your POS system. Identify those hours with low sales that don't pay for themselves, and consider reducing those hours from the schedule. 
  • Be VERY clear about your new, concentrated hours. Make them prominent in your ads, online, in bag stuffers, Google maps, etc, etc.
  • Add an appointment scheduling app to your website, and let customers choose when to come in for more personalized service. 
  • Remind people that "Remember, you can find us online 24/7 at"
  • Adjust your staff's compensation appropriately! 


This is all about productivity. And respect!
You will have created a better working environment for your good people.

  • They won't have to deal with new hires who are late, or have an attitude, or ask the same questions over and over. Instead, they can focus on matching up customers and merchandise. 

  • And, your present staff may know others who would like to work in such an environment.

Some call this accountability. Others might call it fairness

We call it respect. Respect for your customers. Respect for your people. 

Remember the goal: Make it worth the customer's time to come to your store!

* Bob Phibbs, 10 Things to Know to Get And Keep Retail Jobs

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