New Zealand icon Max Fashions first opened its doors to Kiwi women in 1986. Consistent application of their three core values - to be inclusive, innovative and inspirational – have seen the company grow to 36 stores from Whangarei to Invercargill, and they’re now an e-tailer as well. They challenged RedSeed to update their old paper-based training programme, and were seeking a dynamic solution that wasn’t about ticking boxes, but would really engage and empower their 230 retail staff nationwide.
RedSeed used their three-tier “Sell ‘em something; Sell ‘em more; Sell it faster” online programme as the basis of the Max Fashions retail training, and implemented their RedSeed Energy monitoring app to give store managers tangible data on training engagement at each store.
“But first and foremost, we had to overcome the fear factor,” says RedSeed marketing manager Ben Hogg. Training can be exciting, but it can also make staff nervous – especially when introducing a whole new system. RedSeed knew that reducing employee apprehension around training was the best way to improve engagement and get positive results.
“We identified three challenges,” says Hogg. “Firstly, the staff had a wide variety of skill levels. Secondly, the differing range of technological ability had to be considered. Finally, management buy-in was essential as the Max teams are small and close-knit.”
There was a clear focus on consistency, starting everyone at level one of the training programme, regardless of what training they had done before or how long they had worked in retail. This removed the pressure of expectation – everyone was on the same ground and could work through the programme on an equal footing. This was useful, not just in reducing the individual levels of anxiety employees may have felt, but also in encouraging camaraderie.
“Peer support is essential in successful training,” says Hogg. “Especially when some staff members might find technology a bit challenging.” Max encouraged team training sessions, with some groups even making a night of it over pizza.
It was also essential that the training programme was rolled through the organisation from the top. Senior management completed the programme first, before taking it to the store. “This has resulted in managers really taking ownership of RedSeed within their own stores,” says Hogg. “It has become so embedded in the culture that training expectations are now a focal point of the interview process during recruitment.”
The revamp of their training process with RedSeed has been hugely successful for Max, with items per sale increasing by over 80 percent, a growth in mystery dhopper results of around 10 percent nationwide, and in-house awards based on feedback from customers rising to at least six each week. Most importantly, Max staff are hungry for more. “Our teams are wanting to enhance their training further and are looking forward to new modules being released,” says Karma Wetere, national retail manager for Max.
This article was originally published in issue 740 of NZRetail magazine.