6 Retail Lessons I Didn’t Know In My 20’s.  

#1 Know your Audience (can’t be stressed enough) 

This concept is now quite simple at my age to comprehend and to understand the ramifications of not understanding it, but I didn’t get it until a manager taught me when I was an assistant at Bikes USA in the 90’s. To put it bluntly “Know when to shut up!” Your opinion is yours so keep it to yourself unless asked, and when they ask… keep it simple. If they ask what you did for the weekend keep it simple and shut up, nobody wants to hear that your underage self went drinking or smoked pot. You never criticize someone who’s been through decades of work experience just because you think you know better. This leaves a bad impression and is stupid unless you can back it up with more of a statement than “because I think so” or “so and so said the same thing”.  
#2 Actions do Speak Louder than Words 
Talk all the crap you want about a coworker and the fairness of life and guess what… it’s your action that’s seen! Work harder and have faith your supervisors are working on solutions. Retail is a business which employs thousands of people and makes millions and millions of dollars. It is important to understand just because you think something should be handled a certain way and how you want it to be does not mean it is within the scope of the law. If the situation isn’t the way you want, it doesn’t mean it isn’t going to come to a positive end. Discipline and personnel issues don’t get solved in minutes; there is no specific time frame. Employee relations regarding discipline, terminations or promotions won’t ever happen on YOUR time frame so stop worrying about it, and focus on yourself. If you keep up the wrong attitude and wrong action then you are worse than the person(s) you started thinking were treated better. You don’t know what is going on behind the scenes, and you’ve never run a multi million dollar company. Let your bosses, HR and their Bosses worry, you just do your best work and do not complain.
#3 Don’t be a Poison!

Come to work and work. Don’t spread rumors, personal opinions or stuff about anyone. If you want a promotion, do your job well, work without being told, and have a Positive Attitude with Positive Action. Step into roles which go above your position. Don’t complain you did someone’s job. Show you can lead and do the workload! Take the poisonous person, be polite, but isolate and ignore them when the venom starts spewing, eventually they will realize and figure out they need to change something or move on. You don’t cut off the arm just because you broke your thumb.  Do your job.  
#4 Know What You’re Talking About and Back it Up with Stats, Facts and Numbers
Don’t talk unless you have something to back it up. You can say something is a hot seller, but if you expect a company to jump just off of your word then you need to think again. Learn to pull reports, monitor the best sellers, the top ten, and employee performances. Watch the information, report after report. Figure out the numbers and then start making requests.  
#5 Focus on Your Growth, Learn About Every Aspect of Your Job Duties and Concentrate Your Energy on the Overall Results
Don’t get involved in other people’s drama or what they are or are not doing. Your job is your job, not theirs. Have faith you will get noticed, and you will be rewarded. If you’re busy worrying about some other coworker then you can’t focus about what’s important: yourself and your career. The only person who can totally stand in your way is YOU!  (See lesson #3)

#6 Organization is Key for Speed of Service
Let’s face it, the bottom line (no pun intended) is for us to get the customer in the door, sell product to them, put money in the register and move on to the next customer. I look at stores as living entities, they have a heart and brain and more. The stockroom has to be organized. It is equally as important as visual merchandising on the sales floor, and in my mind it has become slightly more important over the years. If you can’t find it, then you can’t sell it! A dearly missed friend, former mentor, and an extended family member named Harvey Linden taught me the easiest rule in the shoe game for a stock room and a sales floor, and I pass this along at every store I have worked in and to every person who wants to learn. “When you go to the grocery store and you want to pick up some bread, do you go to the meat aisle? No, you go to the bread aisle. Always keep the meat with the meat, the cheese with the cheese, the eggs with the eggs, then you’ll always know where to go.” If you can find it quickly you can sell it quickly, and you can also physically see when something is selling well or not at all. Keeping things organized, and babysitting the rest of your staff to make sure they are keeping things in order is one of the best practices you can bring into a store.

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