Retail needs Knowledge Workers

We do not need trained manpower to perform stock duties and customer handling is what an average retailer believes in India.

More than half of the organised retail in our country is operated by small businessmen. Most retail brands like Reebok, Next, Levi’s, etc have expanded through the franchise route. In A and B tier cities of India, national brands are operated by businessmen owning a single unit or master franchisees.  
I visited many of these stores and spoke with the store owners to see how they are running a MOM ‘N POP store under the brand name of an organised retail chain. Unfortunately, some of the big brands that we respect are represented by the salesmen who cannot even pronounce the brand name correctly. Most of the people living in metros would have experienced this while holidaying in smaller cities, hill stations and religious places. With such manpower, can a brand claim to provide a consistent experience? And in absence of consistency of experience can the “Name of a Company” claim itself to be a BRAND? 
McDonalds is known across the world for delivering the same experience and taste for its Mc burgers. McDonalds has achieved this through extensive training of its franchisees and franchisees’ manpower. So much so that McDonalds has established its own University.  
However, in most Indian companies the training stops at the level of franchisee owner. To create world class brands, it is time we take the initiative and educate our franchisees about the importance of trained manpower. Companies need to create a strong system of training the franchisee’s manpower. It must be ensured that before entering the floor every sales executive is trained to perform like a Knowledge Worker. Every executive joining the franchisee should be trained about the following factors: company’s brand name, its meaning, history and philosophy, the company’s values and the promise made by the company’s product line, price and target customers, competitor’s product line and differentiation attributes, company’s policies, outlook and approach towards customers 
selling, customer service skills and procedures, store operation procedures, standards and policies, store layout, display approach and ideas. 
The companies must create tools to help the franchisee in proper selection and recruitment of the right people. The companies should create a system for monitoring, recognising and rewarding the employees who comply with corporate standards at franchisee level. 
Organised retail will be successful in India only if we are able to create consistency and build trust with the customers. This would be possible once the brand managers, franchise managers and HR managers get together to take the responsibility of training the franchisees’ manpower and converting them into Knowledge Workers.

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