Reader Rebecca wrote in because of her frustrations working for a department store where there wasn’t a protocol for dealing with customers. As a result, it was a dog eat dog world where sales associates fought over customers and actually stole them from each other.
A friend of mine walked up to a cosmetics counter and was looking for lipstick. The sales associate, in trying to sell my friend offered to allow her to try a sample of a product to “take care of those wrinkles.” Not exactly what you want to hear from a salesperson. But cosmetics and skin care sales people are notoriously pushy because they’re all on commission.
I’m not a big fan of commission structures at retail for a couple reasons:
- They don’t foster a sense of teamwork. Each employee is out for themselves and no one is looking out for the greater good.
- They make customers feel like hunks of chum in a pool of sharks. Customers know when they’re being “sold” and they don’t like shopping in those types of environments.
So, what to do? You have to make sure everyone’s on the same page with the commission program and how it works with customers.
1. Create a protocol for new customers. Many retailers have a simple check sheet, where each employee name is written down and a check mark goes next to their name when their turn is up. They then take care of that customer and wait again until it’s their turn.
2. Second, create a protocol for dealing with returning customers. Customers like dealing with the same associate. But what happens if your customer comes in and you’re busy helping another customer? The employee who helps this customer the second time around should get the sale, no matter whether it’s your regular customer or not. They did all the work, so they deserve the commission on the sale.
3. Create a protocol for customers bringing back returns. This is a biggie. I know stores where an employee sells a customer something. The customer brings it back to return it and that same employee rings the return under a different employee number so the return doesn’t impact their own commissions. Make sure a manager has to approve every return transaction. That’s the only way to avoid this issue.
For some ideas on how to create an effective bonus program, read my blog entry on the subject and watch the video.