Corra Daily Planet » 2009 » March

Why Retail Has to Return to a Service Based Industry

Tue, March 31st, 2009 - 5:05 am - By Gordon Basichis

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It seems like light years ago that when you went into a store to buy something you got service.   You expected service and you got it.   If you didn’t get service, you either complained to the management or owner who actually cared about your complaint, and the situation was rectified.   Or you found another place to shop and you didn’t’ return.

Time was that even most department stores gave you service.  As for the smaller, individual shops, service was their major selling point.  A shop would live and die on its unique selections, its pricing, and its service.   But it is no secret that with rare exceptions that has all changed.  Between the discount shops and the big box stores, service is out the window.   You walk into the store and hardly anyone cares that you are there.   In some shops they accommodate you or even ignore you.   In others like view you with scorn and condescension.  You loom before them like a ghastly imposition that is designed not to increase revenue and extend their employment but to impose upon their personal phone calls and Internet dating.   You are not good enough to shop there.  Or, whatever it is that you are buying you can go and find yourself.

But now the worm has turned yet again.  As an article in Marketing Daily reports there is going to be a lot of pain in the retail market.    According the Price Waterhouse thee retail market will be an extremely competitive environment.   the economic doldrums that we have experienced are to be prolonged in retail.  People aren’t buying, and if they are, the question is why should they be choosing your store to spend their money?

The retailer has to go the shopper a reason for patronage.  Price is a big part of it.  then there is the selection.   Something original instead of the same old same old would be nice.   And then, finally, service.  You need retail people who understand the meaning of selling.  They cannot just be bored clerks, sucking up the air and passing the time.   they should know the stock and understand how to approach a customer.  They should be able to a certain the shopper’s need.   They should know enough not to load the customer up with a lot of junk they don’t need, only to have that customer resent the experience and decided to shop elsewhere.

The retail sales person should have some finesse, some charm.   they should actually know what they are talking about.   You as the retailer can’t look at your personnel as one more clerk wishing they weren’t there but agreeing to take up space for minimum wage.   Your clerk should be an asset, a reliable person who gains the trust of customers.  Someone who believes they have a vested interest in the well being of your shop.   A job is a good start for vested interest.

Running background checks on your employment candidates will help you determine who is not the miscreant you don’t need representing your business to your diminishing clientele.   Education verification will help assess the caliber of your candidate.   And personality and aptitude tests can’t hurt.

It’s time to adjust.  Go back to a time that is so old it’s new again.  And as for your work force, check them out before you hire.

Staying Ahead by Advancing Your Business During Crisis

Sun, March 29th, 2009 - 5:02 am - By Gordon Basichis

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It’s great to see when a company drives forward in the face of the economic downturn.   In fact, it is even better to see a company realize an increase in revenue while others are enduring decreases.   In this case it is an automotive company that is “damning the torpedoes” and moving ahead.  If not full speed, then they certainly are moving forward.

BMW’s Mini, or Mini USA, was one of two companies to increase its car sales over the past year.   According to an article in Advertising Age,  Mini USA enjoyed a 28% sales gain.   The other gainer was Subaru.  True, there have been some speed bumps in the first quarter of this year, but Mini is going forward with its new models, just the same.  Mini will be launching, among others, a second generation convertible and the Mini 1, it’s smallest car.  To date this model has been available only in Europe.

Considering that something like five advertising agencies all chipped in for the advertising and promotion, this is one time collaborative thinking from somewhat disparate sources seems to be proving quite effective.   One has to respect the employees who were in touch enough with the marketplace to at first ramp up sales and to realize, that despite the economic slump, it’s a good time to bring on the new models.

This was can see is a mix of timing and talent.   For timing you need a mix of luck and skill.   For talent, you need the right people, those who can read the market and assist your company in evolving, even in a rocky economy.  So whomever has been doing the hiring and putting the team together deserves to be credited as well.   In this case, given the times, the human resources personnel for all the companies involved are conducting more than you basic background checks.   I would think they are conduct professional reference checks, education verification, and possibly talent assessment and aptitude tests as well.

It does pay to check them out before you hire.

When Even Job Sites Are Facing the Tough Economy

Fri, March 27th, 2009 - 5:14 am - By Gordon Basichis

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An article in the Washington Times declared that Monster, one of the leading Internet job sites is experiencing declining revenue.   As the job market weakens then posting for jobs are fewer.  With fewer postings, advertising revenue diminishes.   So everyone in the proverbial food chain suffers in the end.

The article notes that the Monster revenue has declined more substantially in Europe.  In Europe the economic downturn is worse than here, so there is little need for psoting jobs.   Here in the United States there weas a significant increase in traffic on the various Internet job sites as unemployed workers searched for employment over the Internet.   I don’t really know whether that traffic remains steady or if the unemployed workers are starting to give up hope they will find something on the job sites.

I don’t know if it is true or not, but several headhunters have told me the job sites are far less than what they are purported to be.   Some have even categorized the job search via the Internet job sites as futile and worthless.   They claim far too many candidates submit resumes for the same job.   The flood is overwhelming and unmanageable.   Additionally, most of the resumes are submitted by candidates who are hardly qualified for the targeted position.   It’s just a Hail Mary Wing and a Prayer.   So what remains is the job sites themselves are essentially advertising platforms dressed up to look like viable job sites.   If nothing else, the pros and cons of spending one’s time applying for jobs via the job sites is worth considering.

Another area where there is some controversial pertains to those who order background checks on the various job sites.   The belief is that the candidate can pre-qualify themselves by vetting himself of any criminal records or negative marks on his background that would prevent him from being considering for a job.   some believe they can show these background search reports to the human resources managers at the companies where they are being considered for employment.  They believe they will have some sway.  Frankly, they won’t.

Employers conduct their own preemployment screening.   They rely on background screening companies for this purpose and reports provided by the individual have little or no currency.   It is one thing if the job applicant wants to spend his money to review what may be on his record so that he can answer any questions posed by human resources.   A memory refresher, if you will.  But beyond that,  the exercise can prove more of a waste of money than a worthwhile investment.

That said, there are people who are uncertain just what is on their record.     So who knows?  maybe for them it is worthwhile.

In any event, the best way to seek worth is probably through your networking or through a staffing agency.   And beware, positing your resumes on too many websites may nullify the efforts of a headhunter, discouraging them from taking you on as a client.

As for employers, be sure to check them out before you hire.

Slow Moving Background Checks Put New Mexico Legislature on Hold

Thu, March 26th, 2009 - 4:43 am - By Gordon Basichis

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It has been decided that New Mexico Lawmakers cannot hold confirmation hearings for the University of New Mexico Board of Regents during the legislative session.   According to an article in the Seattle Times, the hearings should be delayed, it was decided.  and why the delay?  Because the background checks conducted on the Board of Regents Candidates did not come back in time.

Additionally, there is a dispute with the Department of Public Safety.   The DPS will not conduct background checks on higher-level officials.     Is  this resistance  atrributable to a  steadfast belief that there is no corruption on the higher levels of government?  Well, we know the answer to that one.  Or is it that that the Department of Public Safety believes it may find embarrassing information on government officials?  Hard to say.  Could even be none of the above.  In any event,it is the attorney generals’ office that will be conducting the background searches.   Remarkable.  Although as oen who lived in New Mexico, it is fair to say that government or anything else, for that matter, doesn’t always run as smoothly as most would like.

That is but one of the reasons government is government and a business is a business.  Governments are immersed in bureaucracy.  We assume that and are surprised when they are not.  Businesses on the other hand are supposed to be fluid and while political bureaucratic at times, we are aware of how they suffer when their bureaucracies gets in the way.  Private enterprise at its best is fluid and flexible, capable of making adjustments in a timely fashion.   Private enterprise depends on speed and innovation.   These are its assets.

So when background checks do not return in time, the entire preemployment screening program breaks down.  Delays are no longer part of political dysfunction, they are serious flaws in the machinery.  with the economy so dire, the last thing either the human resources dpeartment needs are needless delays.   Executives desperate to staff new employees do not need to be waiting around for the background searches to return.

So if your background checks are not returning in a timely fahsion, try another background checking service.   Because in this day and age, it is vital to check them out before  you hire.

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