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Graeme’s Take on Training: What I Learned From Working in a Hardware Store

This is the sixth and final post in Hardware Retailing staffer Graeme Haase’s series of posts about three days of training that he completed at Cardwell Do it Best Home Center in Indianapolis. Haase went through this training program to get a firsthand account of how a new sales associate’s training goes and to share his experience and impressions with other retailers. See the links below for other posts in the series. To read more about recruiting and retaining high-quality employees, see our story, “Finders Keepers,” in the January issue of Hardware Retailing magazine.

Day 1, Post 1: Preparing for a New Gig

Day 1, Post 2: Wearing Many Hats

Day 2, Post 1: Learning More — and Getting a Workout!

Day 2, Post 2: My Day, Step by Step

Day 3, Post 1: The Importance of Good Customer Service

Now that all the dust has settled and I was able to spend time outside of work letting my experiences at Cardwell Do it Best Home Center sink in, I wanted to share a few final takeaways and lessons I learned from this great opportunity.

  • Don’t park in the owner’s parking spot. It’s especially important not to do this on your first day.
  • You’ll wear many hats in a hardware store. One day you may be working as a cashier, then the next on the sales floor, doing inventory, answering phone calls, renting out equipment or loading orders in the yard.
  • Wear comfortable yet durable shoes. You’ll be on your feet a lot and sometimes walking through the yard in mud after a rainstorm.
  • The employees made sure that the customers came first. I noticed this during one particular phone conversation where the employee was talking to a customer about shingles, helping him decide which one would best fit their project. During this conversation, I overheard the employee explain that the sales person side of him would say to buy one type of shingle, and he explained his reasons why. He then went on to say that it ultimately wouldn’t be the best decision for the customer, and that a different type of shingle would be the one he would put on his mom’s house and was the one he thought the customer should buy instead.
  • You need to be trained and have a license in order to operate a forklift. Asking politely isn’t a good substitute for the training and license.
  • Cutting keys isn’t as difficult as it looks, and you can learn how to do it quickly, as long as you have proper guidance and a drawer full of keys to practice with.
  • Customers will expect you to know a lot of information about products that range from shingles to bird feed to screws and bolts.
  • Even though I worked at Cardwell Do it Best Home Center for only three days, I got to know the staff pretty quickly. Those I had the privilege of working with one-on-one didn’t think twice about getting to know me and I them. It was such a joy and made the entire experience more meaningful. Surprisingly, I learned I wasn’t the only Miami Dolphins football fan living in Indianapolis!

I hope that over the past few days, you have enjoyed reading about my experiences working my very first retail job. It’s also my hope that you were able to make your own list of takeaways of ideas and best practices you want to implement in your own store to make your training program the best it can be. It’s also a plus if you laughed once or twice.

For more information about hiring and retaining great employees, check out the January issue of Hardware Retailing.

About Graeme Haase

Graeme Haase
Graeme graduated from Butler University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Shortly after walking the stage, Graeme started working as a graphic designer for Hardware Retailing magazine, where he designs different parts of the magazine and assists with other custom publications. Graeme also does video production and editing. In his free time, Graeme is accustomed to trying new things (at least once!), such as musicals, water skiing and bungee jumping.

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