Keeping Your Store Running Smoothly & Safely
As a retail business owner, you know by now that the amount of work you put into setting up your shop was just the beginning. You’ve chosen your business name, location and products, and you’ve established an employee identification number (EIN), written a business plan, and brushed up on the law. You’ve hired employees, and just had your store’s grand opening. So, now what? Now the hard work really begins because you must work fiercely to protect all of the time, money and energy you’ve invested into opening your store. The list of items you have to keep track of is seemingly endless, but related to protecting your business, insurance, safety, and the right staff go a long way in ensuring that your business runs smoothly.
Of course, the most logical step is to continually perform your due diligence by surveying your business for any potential hazards, such as blocked aisles, merchandise on the floor, loose fixtures, air quality, and exposed wiring, among other liabilities. Train your employees to know what to look for, too, especially if you don’t plan on being in the store on an ongoing basis.
Not only do you want to protect your business from lawsuits, but fines as well. When you are constantly vigilant about safety concerns, your store is naturally tidier and safer. Emergency exits aren’t blocked, merchandise isn’t piled on the floor, and there are no ceiling high box stacks to worry about. In other words, you have no fear of being fined by OSHA.
In February 2013, retail clothing chain Forever 21 was fined $55,000 for recurring safety hazards at one of its Massachusetts locations. In January 2014, it was reported that the retail chain was fined another $236,500 for similar violations at its New York Times Square location. That’s over $291,000 in fines alone. Is that a figure you’re prepared to pay? Of course not. Protect your store with adequate insurance and diligent safety measures.
Are you certain that you have enough of the right types of insurance? Issues of premises liability have toppled more than one fledgling business. If a customer or employee hurts him or herself while in your store, or on your property, you are legally responsible as the business owner. If, for example, you have just opened a boutique at , the last thing you need to deal with as a new business owner is a visit from a personal injury attorney because a customer slipped and fell on your wet floor. So, revisit your insurance coverage often, and adjust as needed, especially as your business grows.
Hire the Right People
In the age of social media, one bad customer service experience can spread like wildfire and doom a business before it really gets off the ground. A key component of protecting your business is to hire the right staff and train them properly from the start. Just because an interviewee has retail experience doesn’t mean that he or she is automatically a good candidate. Dig a little deeper. Where they worked before can make a big difference in how they treat your customers. If, for example, you sell plus-sized clothing that caters to professional women, a job candidate who has only worked at the local video game store may not be a good fit. They aren’t familiar with the merchandise and don’t have the necessary experience of working with your client base. So, do a little role playing in the interview, check references, and choose wisely. Always remember that your employees represent your brand, and everything they do and say to and around your customers makes a difference.
The checklist of items related to protecting your business seems endless. You have to worry about keeping up with your insurance (increasing it as your business grows), remaining diligent about safety issues (and training employees to do the same), and hiring responsible people who will represent you well and treat your business as their own. The work of a business owner never ends, but once you have these items checked off, maybe you can slow down just a bit to finally enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Written by Nik Donovic. Nik finds happiness in the simple things in life. As a resident of Arizona, he spends most of his free time outdoors hiking, walking, or enjoying the occasional cool breeze instead of being indoors (except in the summer, of course!).Photo Provided by with Permission to use from Nik Donovic and @ConsultWebs.