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10 tips for recruitment and retention

Good staff are like gold dust these days and like any precious metal need to be protected. Because however hard you work it’s hard for one person to do everything so you need your team to be strong, involved and on side. We look at some of the ways you can keep staff engaged and help you grow the business.

1: Don’t expect one person to do everything. OK you are bally marvellous and can multitask but you’re the boss … that’s in your DNA.

However sometimes having specific job roles and responsibilities can actually improve things overall rather than everyone trying to do or be everything.

If you have a member of staff who is brilliant at sales and a whizz on the social media but only OK on design then put them on sales and utilise their strengths to generate more business.

Conversely if you have someone who can whip out bouquets and tributes faster than you then give them that responsibility so you can focus on other parts of the business.

It is often better to have more part time people with specific roles and responsibilities than a small full-time team struggling to do everything.

Yes, you will have more ‘personalities’ to deal with but chances are the cost won’t be a million miles different but the results could be dramatically better.

2: Run incentive and/or commission schemes.

It maybe that many florists do it for the love but that doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table so giving them a chance to earn more if they sell more because that will mean both of you win. Increased sales, increased earnings it’s a win win situation.

3: Engage your staff in decisions and strategies.

You may be the boss but that doesn’t mean you know EVERYTHING. It’s important to listen to what your staff say and think. If you have younger staff see if they have ideas on how to attract a younger customer base – important if your current demographic is in the upper age brackets.

Listen to them and don’t reject ideas out of hand until you have really thought it through and never say ‘oh we tried that but it didn’t work’. That will just demoralise them and that’s a hugely destructive feeling. It may not have worked in the past but that doesn’t mean – especially if you do it with some tweaks – it can’t be successful second time round.

4: Give bonuses.

It doesn’t have to be thousands but – and especially around the peaks where you probably are working longer/harder – even a little can go a long way.

Alternatively offer treats and other benefits like a day off or spa treatment or just a well-stocked chocolate stash or fruit bowl given you want to keep them healthy. Look after your staff like they were your family because in many ways, and especially smaller companies, they are.

5: Offer praise and prizes.

An employee of the month certificate, a gold star or smiley badge for someone who did an awesome job with an awkward customer, their choice of music for the day even if you hate it. If you aren’t paying them a decent wage it won’t compensate but it is a little extra touch that shows you care, notice, and appreciate them

6: Offer learning opportunities.

We know some people think its mad to train staff as they’ll just walk away once they’ve learned and set up against you but whilst they are with you, you need them engaged and doing their best which in turns means they have to learn and improve.

Sadly, there aren’t many opportunities to take staff to events at the moment but that doesn’t mean you can’t have play dates in your own shop or join forces with your local shops to host a friendly competition or even invest in a designer to come into the shop and give a hands-on tutorial.

It might cost around £500 but if you’ve a staff of 6 (or more if you join forces with another shop or two in your area) it will be money well spent and chances are the staff will earn that back for you time and time again.

7: Pay the most you possibly can

Even if, short term, it’s more than you currently earn, always pay top dollar and then some. Good, productive staff will not only allow you to focus on new business generation and the business in general but if you introduce Idea #3 could actually generate more money so you can earn more.

The market is incredibly competitive so you need to pay the best to get the best plus it shows respect - see what James Crompton has to say on the matter (there's a link at bottom of this post).

8: Be brutally tough …

Obviously, you have to be nice and legal but DO NOT let staff run rings round you. Set the ground rules, have the systems in place and if they deviate then get rid of.

May sound tough but we know only too well how easy it is to let people get away with things because you are scared of having no-one at all.

But if you are paying them properly and being fair and they are still not pulling their weight then they have to go. Short term pain maybe but long-term gain … trust us we’ve been there too!

9: Be something they can be proud of

Anyone can be a run-of-the-mill florist …. that’s easy. Being a superb florist and have a brand that is admired is a lot tougher but it will pay dividends when it comes to keeping staff engaged.

If they are proud to work for you then they will do a much better job … if they just think they are employed to make you money it will lead to resentment and worse still, staff leaving.

Make sure your brand is the best it can be … mediocrity is just not an option in today’s market.

10: Don’t give up

We know staff can be the best thing since sliced bread and the worst headache in the world but unless you really do like the idea of working all the hours the good Lord sends, running yourself into the ground or limiting your earning potential you need staff.

They are as important to your business as you and the flowers and plants are.

If you have good ones then revisit # 1 – 9 and make sure you are really ticking every box so you keep hold of them (every business we know is looking for staff and it’s an employee’s market at the moment), if you are struggling to recruit or retain ask yourself why and then fix it before it’s too late.

Caroline Marshall-Foster

Editor, Florist Magazine




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