Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Retailers have a duty of care for their employees. See why it's more important in results season

It's the time of the year where retailers announce their results that cover the busy Christmas period. It's good to keep abreast of these, particularly those that operate in the same sector as you. Two that have been announced today are Morrisons who reported better than expected sales and Debenhams who report their sales as "strong."

This has got me thinking about sales figures and how they affect your team. When I worked for BP it was always a horrible couple of days with customers angry at petrol prices when the company was reporting multi-billion pound profits. I suspect that Starbucks employees had similar issues when their tax affairs were made public.

My readers are generally split into two main camps - independent retailers and those who work for larger retail operations. The difference in these two is enormous and only widened by the public reporting that is required of publicly -listed companies. There are lessons to be learnt whichever camp you are in and today's blog will look at this.

Larger chain retailers
And this especially applies to those that have regular reporting of their figures, because this is where you can get examples such as the BP and Starbucks ones above. It is important for those earning massive salaries to protect their workers that are on the front line. It is difficult for customers to differentiate but the comments, ill-feeling and sometimes abuse that a BP worker gets is completely disproportionate to their role in the process.I have always spoken to those customers that voice discontent at the prices of the retailers I work with about my lack of role in the process that dictates prices. If I am working in a store, for example, then my ability to affect the price that the company sells their products at zero.

But not every employee is this insightful or confident with what they do. As a large organisation the people at the top and (more productively) the marketing, media or communications department needs to ensure that they soften the blow for the lower level employee. BP used to produce a press release for us to hand out to discuss with the customers. It explained the difference between BP Retail and BP Oil and how it isn't legal to cross-subsidise one with the other. It separated the customers who were interested in the affairs of the company from those that just wanted to have a moan. Large organisations have a moral obligation to pay their workers better, pay their way in taxes and to look after their front line workers - and this includes provisions for when publicity affects their work.

Independent retailers
I think that there is mileage here in having some sort of published results for your own independent retail business. This is an especially good idea if you can compare and contrast this with the competition from larger chains.Firstly you can share an edited version of the results with your team. Perhaps breaking it down into percentages rather than actual cash will protect your personal data. For example-

  • 45% of our costs are for staffing
  • We paid 25% of our income in tax, whereas our multinational rival paid only 6%
  • Our profit margin after all costs and taxes have been taken out is 9%
These figures will highlight to your team what a difference a small pay rise makes or the benefit of selling one extra item per customer or whatever you want to highlight. and this is where joined up business wins out every time. If you understand your results, understand what you want to make better then you can help your team to understand what differences they can make. For example, if you want to increase the sales by 10% to give your team a 5% pay rise then use the annual figures to explain this.

The second point is for those that are a little bolder with what they do. It's best explained by way of example and I'll use a coffee shop for example. It's about comparing and contrasting your operation with a multinational rival and using this as marketing ammunition. Imagine this press release, or something similar, appearing in your local newspaper-

"Use your local coffee shop as it benefits the community

Local coffee shop Coffee For Me has just published it's annual results and it makes startling reading. In contrast to the American-owned coffee chain XYZ Seattle, who only paid tax of 4% on  their UK earnings, Coffee For Me paid 20% of their earning sin tax. They also employ 5 people from out town, all of whom then spend their ages in our town. The owners, Mr and Mrs Jones, have lived here for over 20 years and they shop locally with other locally-owned businesses.

If you want to ensure that you support local people and people who pay their fair share of UK taxes, make sure that the next time you go out for  coffee it's at Coffee For Me, and nor one of these chains that are taking money away fro the town, the region and the UK."

It is for those with a little more aggressive marketing approach but the impact for me would be a huge one. It's all about making your customers think about their purchases and to make a decision on the greater good.

All in all, retailers have a duty of care over their colleagues. Whether it's to protect them from negative media coverage, to help them understand the business or to prompt their customers to shop locally.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you have any comments or questions about my blog then please let me know via the comments section.