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Consumers will be more apt to choose your store before purchasing online or at a big box store if you have a knowledgeable staff and exceptional customer service. To implement a complete training program you must commit to a written plan to coordinates dates, various locations, trainers, topics, presentations, games, and follow-up. Include the cost of payroll, locations, meals, awards and anything else that is associated with training in your budget. Once you have a solid plan in place distribute the dates and agenda and obtain advance commitments of attendance to avoid last minute absences.

There are definite advantages of holding short training sessions in the store, but realize that interruptions are going to distract your trainees and prohibit truly effective learning. Possibly one hour sessions before the store opens is a good time, and you have access to the products, lab, cash registers and visuals.

Classroom style group training is also important to ensure everyone is at the same level of understanding. Mix up training style, instructors, and the topics. Include product training, salesmanship skills, customer service, procedures and telephone etiquette. Activity breakout sessions work well during classroom training to keep everyone alert. They enable your trainees to think, practice and truly understand what you’ve just taught.

Planning uninterrupted and fun training which includes interaction, games, and breakout sessions is most effective. Consider renting an inexpensive conference room in a hotel and order pizza and soda for lunch. Possibly close the store on a slow Thursday or two in February or March to include the entire staff.

Physical movement is key to successful learning and alertness. A simple way to keep your class alert and moving is to fill your training presentation with questions. Instead of you stating facts, create interaction with what they already know about the topic. With each correct answer throw a piece of candy. Aim a little high or a little off to keep them moving and reaching. Praise the correct answers, laugh about your bad aim, and offer a reward at the end of the day to the person with the most wrappers. (They will eat most of the candy you throw.) When you start a session with an oversized bowl of candy, your staff will get excited because they know training includes a little competition and fun.

Team games heighten retention and are a great way to bring fun and energy to your lesson plan. Invest in a timer or stop watch. Setting time limits for game questions and team tasks creates a competitive spirit that motivates learner interaction with the topic. Create a Jeopardy style or Wheel of Fortune style game for fun. Try Hot Potato or Musical Chairs. The one left out does the sales presentation or role play. It is also fun to mix skill and chance with a game. For every correct answer, consider rolling big foam dice for the score.

Consider having new salespeople prepare for class training using pool and spa industry online training courses such as Xmente Swimming Pool Retail Academy, and Certificate Programs such as the APSP’s Retail Sales Associate Certificate Program.

You will find that a well trained staff will increase efficiency, increase sales and create a culture of personal and professional growth that contributes to everyone’s success.

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