Being a small retail business owner can be a rewarding prospect. It also happens to be a continually developing industry, with a study from the National Retail Federation predicting that 2021 will see sales growth of at least 6.5%. However, anyone in the industry knows that it can also be fraught with challenges. Part of your key to overcoming many of these, alongside boosting your chances of success and longevity, is the staff that you bring into your enterprise.
That said, the prospect of bringing in new sales reps can be a challenge in and of itself. Often, small retail leaders aren’t always certain whether the time is prudent to invest in these assets. It can certainly present a risk — between salaries, onboarding, and training it can be an expensive endeavor. Not to mention that the prospect of high turnover in the industry and current economic uncertainty may be contributing to hesitation to act.
We’re going to take a look at a few areas you can review to gain the confidence and processes to make hiring decisions that can positively impact your company.
One of the key areas that can indicate whether it is time to bring on new sales reps is whether the current state of your business can financially handle it. General wisdom would suggest that hiring new staff and training existing ones can improve your revenue stream, but it can be dangerous to make investments without considering how sustainable they are.
You should review:
Your new reps won’t be able to use their talents to generate revenue if there isn’t sufficient interest in what they are selling. As such, you need to commit to some analysis regarding consumer demand for your products and services not just now, but soon. Review your sales but also look at figures of your competitors from across the industry. If possible, alongside making predictions yourself, hire multiple analytics firms to make forecast models. Having access to multiple data sets allows you to consider scenarios for growth or decline that you or others may not have considered. As such, you will be able to make more informed hiring decisions.
Profit and Loss
You, alongside your human resources (HR) department, should have a relatively solid idea of how much it costs to invest in each new member of staff in both the short and long term. You need to compare this against your profit and loss statements to establish whether the company can support new members of staff financially. It is often better to produce month-on-month statements, as this gives you a real-time overview of the cash flow for the business. It also helps you to understand where in what direction the business is likely to head in, financially speaking.
Efficient Human Resources
When you’re approaching the hiring process, an efficient HR department is an essential tool. It can take a significant amount of resources to find the best employees for your business. As such, you shouldn’t be bringing on new sales reps until you have sufficiently agile HR protocols in place.
Your considerations here should include:
Your HR department must plan its hiring approach carefully. After all, if they just take the scattershot approach of posting everywhere, you might get lucky and find some gems, but they may also be overwhelmed by a huge number of inappropriate applications. As such, you must discuss the candidate you’re looking for and the qualities they need to possess. HR should then narrow down the appropriate platforms, keywords, and even job advert language to reach the right people. Design interview questions that will enlighten you as to how they’ll fit into the company culture.
Your approach to HR shouldn’t be limited to simply locating the new sales reps. Onboarding and training processes can take time, and when there isn’t a plan or resources already in place for these, you run the risk of not only wasting valuable time but also denting your new hire’s confidence. An employee handbook that covers all the aspects of workplace policies, codes of conduct, and benefits is an essential tool in giving new hires all the data they need to understand their rights and responsibilities. Using a template as a base, rather than building from scratch is more efficient and cost-effective. It also makes certain that you don’t neglect to cover any important elements.
A Supportive Culture
A company culture that asserts your business’ values and helps everyone involved to thrive is an important element in small retail establishments. Indeed, Millennials — the generation which represents the largest portion of employees — value a positive company culture so much that they reportedly accept lower salaries in favor of a good working environment. Perhaps most importantly, a strong culture is vital to ensure that once you hire new sales reps, you’re able to retain them and avoid the costs involved with high turnover. Therefore, before you begin the hiring process, you need to make sure your culture is supportive toward workers.
One of the main indicators of a solid, employee-focused culture is a process for talent development. Make certain that you have formalized protocols to help workers to progress through the organization — provide them with regular professional training and help them to advance their careers. Indeed, making space to offer leadership opportunities is a key way to help workers feel as though they are a valued part of your organization. These efforts to demonstrate appreciation for employees inspire loyalty and encourage them to innovate for the betterment of the company.
Taking on new sales reps can be a big leap for any small retail business. To understand if the time is right, it can be prudent to review whether you’re in a financially solid position to do so both now and soon. It is also vital to have an efficient set of HR protocols and a strong culture geared toward employee development in place to make certain that you are in an appropriate place to both find and nurture new workers.