In retail a single employee’s behavior can have a major impact on the bottom line, especially in a small business. Here are just a few of the mistakes my employees made that cost me money.
Forgetting to Run Credit Cards – big retailers have integrated point of sale systems ( POS) that won’t allow employees to finish credit card transactions without running the card. For small retailers these two components are often separate. I had one employee who would get distracted talking with customers at the check out and occasionally hit “complete sale” without running their credit cards.
Not Confirming IDs on Checks – I taught all of my employees to visually inspect a driver’s license or state issued ID when accepting a check, but one of them didn’t, and it cost me $50. The customer wrote her ID on the check before giving it to the cashier.
They were having such a good time chatting about their grandkids, my employee trusted her. Apparently she didn’t look at the ID number very hard, because it didn’t even have the correct number of digits, and – of course – the check was stolen.
Putting Extra Items in the Bag – I had one employee who was particularly bad about this. The only reason I knew about it was that a couple of different customers called to tell me they had gotten home with items in their bags that they hadn’t purchased.
It appeared that she was putting items left on the counter by other customers into the bag of the person she was ringing up.
Not Ringing Up All Items Purchased – this is another variation on the same theme, only in this case the customer would be purchasing five items and would only be charged for four. All five of the items in the bag would be things the customer thought she paid for.
I figured this one out, because I kept finding tickets on the floor behind the register. The tickets were all for items that still showed as “available” in the computer. One of my employees was pulling the tickets off all the items first, and then keying them in. However she occasionally dropped some of them on the floor.
Soon after I implemented a policy that, for sales of more than two items, employees had to count the physical items they were putting in the bag, and compare their counts to the number of items showing on the sales screen before giving the customer her total. I also ended up letting someone go.
Putting Wrong Tags on Items – in my business a single batch of merchandise for tagging could include multiple items with similar, but distinct descriptions. We were primarily dealing with unique items on consignment, so it was critical to get the right tag on the right item.
When mistakes were made, it could cost a lot of money and create problems with the consignors. Of course, the customers loved it when they found an expensive dress with a tag for a less expensive top.
Being Rude to the Customers – I had a sweet old lady call me in tears once to let me know how rude one of my employees had been to her. I had noticed that sales plummeted on nights when that employee worked, but I didn’t figure out what was going on until she had done major damage to my business.
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