03 Apr 2017By Mark Hayhurst
When it comes to running a craft company, fewer things are more important than your staff. Every one of your employees has their own strengths and this month Crafter’s Companion founder, Sara Davies MBE, talks about how you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your staff.
It’s no secret that your staff are fundamental to the success of your craft business. Given many will be customer facing representatives of your company, they can affect everything from how people perceive your brand to how much they purchase when they’re in store. When it came to recruiting your staff, you no doubt looked at their skills and personal attributes and how closely those aligned with your brand and what your business needed at that time. It goes without saying, but when you employ your staff you want to get the best from them, so how do you make sure you’re utilising their strengths?
If I can give you one tip it would be to get to know your staff, spend time with them and learn what makes them tick. What is their favourite craft? What their favourite part of their job (and what don’t they like so much)? Once you know a bit more about them you can start to learn where their strengths and weaknesses lie and you can tweak their role accordingly. Your customers come to your store because they want to
learn about and get to know your products. So, who better to teach them than the people who use them every day? Your staff can be an invaluable asset when it comes to passing on advice and upselling to your customers, so think about how you can use your team members’ strengths to avoid bringing in external people to lead workshops and demonstrations. Think more broadly about what they can do to interact
with your customers, can they lead in-store classes? Can they go out into the community and spread the word about your store? Or, does their strength lie in cross selling to the customers who are already instore as they know what items work together? Think about each staff member as an individual and you’ll be able to assign the right tasks to the right people.
Build on their existing skills. Your people are valuable and that means they’re worth the investment. The more you put in to their professional development, the more you will get out of them, so find out what they want from their role and what their ambitions are and then support them. After all, if they feel like they’re working towards what they want then they’re more likely to give you 100 percent and be more committed to their role. In great companies, it’s a win-win.
Encourage their interests too. For instance, if one of your staff wants to take up a new craft or starts getting interested in say graphic design, then make sure you give them the chance to develop those skills
because you never know when you might need them.
Lots of brains are always better than one, so set up regular brainstorming sessions and planning meetings to find out what your staff think should be changed and whether there’s anything they think could help them to do their job better. After all, they spend every day at the forefront of your business and if your customers want something different from you, they’re the ones who will know about it first.
Asking questions and listening to your staff is often more valuable them giving them orders!
Establish an open-door policy with your staff from day one. Make sure they know they can come to you with ideas and you want to hear them, that way no great ideas will go unheard. And reward and celebrate the ideas that make an impact as it will embed this behaviour as part of your culture. Give new staff members a mentor who has more experience within your business, so they can encourage these ideas and help your new staff learn more about your ethos and your brand.
Finally, help your staff to build their profile in the craft industry. The better known they become, the more doors they will be able to open for your company. So, send them to craft events and training courses or even into the local community to engage with craft groups and the like, they’ll build their own reputation and act as a great spokesperson for you too. The bottom line is it’s really all about mutual benefit. In the same way that you want to see the best from your staff, they want to feel like you value them and understand their career goals. The best way to do that is to dedicate the time to getting to know them and adapting their job role to suit their strengths. At the end of the day, your employees, customers and business will all benefit.