Retail Recruiting Tip: Open Houses are for Recruiting AND Creating New Customers

A number of years ago, I was working with the owner of a regional footwear retailer.  A big part of this retail consulting engagement was helping the company to improve the quality of its retail sales associates and, ultimately, to help them drive top-line revenue.

Part of our solution was improving the recruiting effort for new retail sales associates.  This included instituting a program of twice monthly open houses or hiring fairs.  These events are a powerful recruiting and hiring tool because they allow you to present your retail company’s benefits and opportunities in a professional manner to a dozen or more prospective employees all at once – thereby saving several hours of time.  You can learn how to execute an open house in our retail management training courses.

During these presentations we talked about the earnings potential, opportunities for advancement, and benefits.  Following the presentation, we would conduct interviews.  Our goal was to hire an average of two new retail sales associates per session. 

But that meant that we had to say “no” to ten prospective employees.  But instead of cutting off our  relationship abruptly, we chose to provide these retail applicants with a “consolation prize” by providing them with a coupon for 25% off a pair of shoes with the purchase of another pair at full price.  The coupon was valid at any of the chain’s locations for a period of 30-days.

We would tell the applicant that we appreciated their interest, but that we were unable to make a positive decision at the time.  We did however want to thank them for their investment and interest in our company by providing them with a coupon.  We would also tell them that this would be a great way to learn more about our company and our culture.  In the meanwhile we would keep them in mind for future opportunities.  We would typically see about a 20% redemption rate on these coupons.

The result was that we were able to drive additional footsteps into the stores, create incremental revenue, and ensure that we were able to maintain a positive relationship with a consumer that might have walked away with a bad taste in their mouth regarding the company.

–          David Goodwin is the Principal of the Retail Advocacy Group.  A 30 year veteran of the retail industry, he has operated independent retail stores, directed the activities of hundreds of retail locations for Fortune 500 companies and built marketing programs for leading consumer brands.