My Frequent Order to My Staff: Stop Working!
Walk into our store and you might see my industrious sales associates busy straightening shelves and displays. No, they’re not trying to intimidate me into paying them more money. We probably are higher than the national average for our industry. Granted, I’m told this is a technique that was used in some Asian factories; the employees would work twice at hard to get the boss to relent and pay them higher wages.
However, there’s another activity that I feel is just as important as merchandising maintenance.
My wife works in a sweat shop. No matter what the customer volume on any particular day, it’s a given that staff are to be in motion all day long. There is always something that needs doing and staff are simply not expected to be standing around. Ever.
But I often tell my staff that their order for the next hour is to sit down, and pick up a book and start reading. I usually suggest one of our bestsellers, or something that we want to promote. Or something that’s not naturally up their alley.
Having said that, I got in trouble here for a comment I made nearly four years ago, that our policy is, “If you’ve made it through chapter three, you’ve bought the book.” Some off-the-blog responses suggested that if the book stays in resale condition, staff should have unfettered access.
Here’s a comment that appeared from Alice, who worked at Treasure House:
Having worked for 2 different owners I’m happy to say the policy was the same. Read anything you like. Just don’t bend the spine!
I’ve never had a customer claim a book was ‘used’
I have made a staff member pay for a book that had obviously been read on vacation.
I would never read the first 3 chapters of a book – that’s just too frustrating.
I also figure that considering the pay scale most bookstores operate on – it’s a nice perk.
What I do have are great staff who are prolific readers in various areas – one likes fiction, another likes christian living, etc. They often share their latest ‘read’ with their co-workers.
Our staff will put a book on hold under their name when they take something home – it’s a good reminder to remember to bring it back.
Like my wife’s boss, I’m not thrilled at the idea of paying staff to sit around and do nothing, but getting into the products is part of staff development. I’d rather see them read three chapters of four books than twelve chapters of one. But I want them to have the same passion about the books as I do.
So how do you do this in your store? Does your staff have access to book trailers? Review copies? Reviews on blogs?