It's time for more retailers to test the 'pay more expect more, get more' theory.
It seems that retailers have always argued against higher wages, benefits and full-time positions citing exorbitant wage costs as the reason.
While it is true that the expense, in dollars would increase it certainly does not follow that the actual wage percent would increase. And it is the percentage that is key.
Isn't it true that people who value their position, their customers and their company can have a tremendous positive impact on the top line? And, conversely, isn't it true that people who are unhappy, have no job satisfaction and a poor quality of life could have a very negative impact on the top line?
This is not an elaborate, complicated concept. Pay more - expect more - get more.
As we move further into the world of Internet retailing, or e-tailing, it will be absolutely critical that the stores still around to do business face to face with consumers will need to provide a much better shopping experience than what is common today. The unfortunate part is that retailers are probably already looking at this scenario and envisioning how they can keep their customers coming in but they are not considering the 'people' part of their operation. They are thinking about new and exciting selling space, great new products and creative marketing schemes. Customers do not feel abused by selling space, products and marketing campaigns. They feel abused by people.
Back to the Internet. When you think about it, who wouldn't want the unparalleled convenience of shopping from the comfort of their home 24/7? Who wouldn't want to have the massive selection from around the world? Who would mind using their credit card on the Internet once security systems eliminate fraud to a point where it is no longer a major issue? And who, in their right mind, wouldn't choose to avoid the hassle and frustration of dealing with unfriendly and often uninformed retail store employees? (To those readers who are, in fact, good retail store associates - no offense intended and... thanks!)
So, why would people go out to shop?
Some might still do it for the entertainment value. And some might still want to shop in the traditional way because they don't like change. But even for those the experience will have to be a lot more exciting and inviting than it is today or they, too, will convert.
The only surefire way to make, and keep, a business truly customer focused is through competition. Up until now most retailers have not reacted appropriately to poor service levels in their stores because most of their competitors provide the same, or worse, service than they do. They may not be aware of their losses but, most assuredly, those stores with nasty, miserable, moody or just generally indifferent employees are losing. How long can it go on?
Smart retailers will understand that paying more, which means a reasonable hourly wage or salary, full time status and benefits or even part time status that provides benefits of some description will help to attract and retain people whom they can expect more from because they are providing them with a decent living and allowing them to enjoy a decent quality of life. In short, the retailer is providing some job satisfaction. Employers will get more from these employees simply because the employees are receiving something in return. The retailer can expect these employees to help them grow and maintain a viable company.
Getting back to wage costs...all other things being equal, if you attract and hire the right people and provide them with some of the basics that they need to enjoy a decent quality of life, sales will go up. Wage cost problem solved.
Pay more - expect more - get more.