Open air markets are all the rage around my town, offering everything from organic produce and prepared snacks to handmade pottery and homemade finery. With several locations to choose from both nearby and in the big city, it’s a popular weekend activity for shoppers and a viable option for small businesses owners to open a “branch” of their establishment.
Recently, wandering around the food section of one such marketplace at the indoor Brooklyn Flea, an ambitious salesperson tempted me to try a creative selection of horseradishes. She appeared friendly, helpful and, perhaps most important, knowledgeable about the various products.
Assuming she was the owner, I asked several questions about the business – and she answered them all – and then informed me she was an employee for this burgeoning business, working weekends.
And that led me to consider how well do the employees of a small business know key information about their employer? Could they answer a variety of questions about products, selection, and service? Could they attract potential customers to buy, return often, and tell their friends?
Training employees about your business is an essential part of the success of your company and your future. Consider taking time to instruct your employees on a regular basis, including the following actions:
- Business background. While employees don’t have to know the lengthy tale of how your business came to be, they should know pertinent facts: how long you’ve been in business; if family run, then for how many generations; and what makes your establishment stand out in the community?
- Merchandise, service musts. Teaching employees about the range of services and types of products provided is essential to growing your customer base. The more your employees know about the business, the better they can answer customers’ questions. Create a manual of key information easily accessible through your employee-only computer or a binder, and update it regularly.
- Development time. Even the best employees need an occasional refresher. Consider holding an on- or off-site session once or twice a year, where you can instruct employees on the latest information about the business. This also is a great opportunity for bonding and team-building exercises.
Employees are truly your small business ambassador and the window to your company. Treat them well, teach them well, and your customers and, in turn, your bottom line, will benefit.
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