Hello, my name is Graeme Haase. I’m a graphic designer with the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA), but for the next few days, I’m trying a new job—working as a sales associate at Cardwell Do it Best Home Center here in Indianapolis.
Why, you ask? Well, the team here at Hardware Retailing magazine has been working hard to put together some information for you about recruiting, training and retaining quality employees. We thought we’d like to experience that training firsthand (well, as much as possible) by sending someone to go through a few days of training with a local independent retailer. I volunteered to be that trainee—I’m always up for a challenge!
But you could say I’m nervous, too—not the type of nervousness you’d expect before talking in front of a large crowd or the sensation you get before asking someone out on a first date. It’s more of a feeling of not knowing what to expect mixed with excitement.
This will be my first time working a retail job. Sure, I’ve worked in a hospital over a couple summers and at NRHA for over a year since graduating college in 2014. But I’ve yet to work on a retail floor. I’m coming into this opportunity with an open mind and willingness to not only learn, but to throw myself in head-first, all in hope that my experiences will help retailers better train and prepare their new employees for the job at hand.
Because of time constraints, I’ll be doing an accelerated training program to ensure we can fit as much training as possible into the few days I’ll be at the store. We’ll be skipping a few steps (like watching NRHA training videos, which I’m already familiar with anyway) and focusing on things like working the cash register, mixing paint, cutting keys and more.
I’m hoping the staff will help prepare me by showing me around the store and walking up and down each aisle so that I can become more aware of the layout and learn where different product categories are located. Additionally, I’m hoping someone will walk me step-by-step through common tasks, such as cutting keys, mixing paint, stocking shelves and approaching customers on the sales floor. Lastly, I’m interested in learning how communication among employees works—for example, how do employees at the front of the store and those on the floor communicate?
Today I’ll be training directly with the head cashier, Michelle, before transitioning to the service desk tomorrow. I’ll finish up by shadowing the store manager, Bill Dillow, for a full day on Friday.
Dillow says normally, a new cashier is trained for three days with the cashier supervisor before getting to work on their own (if they are comfortable with that), and they watch at least six training videos before they step foot on the floor. Sales associates are usually partnered with another employee, usually a manager or assistant manager, for a few weeks. Cashiers get a training manual to refer to, and sales associates are sent to various training seminars for product knowledge.
But because of time restraints, I will be going through an accelerated training program. Along with training from the staff and learning more about processes and procedures, there will be plenty of on-the-floor learning opportunities.
I’m about to make mistakes, which is OK! I’m coming into this job with limited hardware retail knowledge and experience. And so will your next new employee.
My main focus is to soak up as much information I can, step out of my comfort zone and provide information and tips to train new employees. I also hope to sprinkle in a funny story or two.
That being said, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to start my new job. I’ve already been practicing my greeting. “Welcome to Cardwell Do it Best Home Center. What can I help you with today?”
Stay tuned to read several more posts in this series. And to read more about recruiting and retaining high-quality employees, see our story, “Finders Keepers,” in the January issue of Hardware Retailing magazine.