A shopkeeper writes:

Dear The Punch,

I’ve recently hired several staff to man my clothing stall. One staff member is perfectly lovely. Handles everything competently and with charm.

Somebody, sell my stuff, please! Picture: Getty

But after a successful start, it seems like her sales sass is failing her. She hasn’t met our budget for the past three weeks.

She’s the daughter of a family friend and I’d hate to hurt that relationship. But I’ve got to get rid of her. How can I do it and get off scot-free?

It’s businesstime. What should she do?

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST. Send your dilemmas to feedback@thepunch.com.au by Friday

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    • nihonin says:

      01:53pm | 31/08/12

      Do what I did, my brother was working (well turning up) for me, he wasn’t doing the job I hired him for, after a couple of warnings he still failed in his duties, so I sacked him.  Pretty simple really.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      02:13pm | 31/08/12

      Was he spending to much time on The Punch nihonin?  smile

    • nihonin says:

      02:28pm | 31/08/12

      pa_kelvin, I’ll pay that one.

      Nah this was back in the 90’s

    • thatmosis says:

      03:24pm | 31/08/12

      There is an old maxim that goes, Never hire family or friends as it will end in tears.
        Obviously this girl is not working out so after a warning give her the shove. You may lose a friend but if they are real friends they will understand when the facts are presented to them, if not who wants them anyway.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      01:56pm | 31/08/12

      Here’s my thoughts… maybe you got all the customers to your stall that you were ever going to get.

    • M says:

      01:59pm | 31/08/12

      Sack her and be honest with her. No point in molly coddling them, it only does them worse.

    • Arnold Layne says:

      01:58pm | 31/08/12

      If she’s that competent and charming, why not train her in the skills she’s lacking?  It sounds like she has the right personality, so give her a chance by helping her develop the skills she’s lacking.

    • SM says:

      03:09pm | 31/08/12

      Spot on.  The number of sales organisations who under invest (or don’t invest at all) in training never ceases to amaze me.

    • Budz says:

      02:03pm | 31/08/12

      After 3 weeks you are firing her? Seems a bit quick to axe her!
      If you really do need to fire her, aren’t you required to give her written warnings etc.?
      I’d just tell her, look it’s not you, it’s me.

    • Craig of North Brisbane says:

      02:15pm | 31/08/12

      Yes, this.

      Also, perhaps the problem is not with the employee, but with the stock.  Given how impatient you seem with your staff, my money is on other serious problems in the business too.

    • M says:

      02:24pm | 31/08/12

      I reckon it’s a made up column. What self respecting business owner asks the internet for advice?

    • pa_kelvin says:

      02:50pm | 31/08/12

      @M…. Of course its made up….Its the Friday Dilemma…Next week it will be Darn, I’ve got a hole in my sock,what to do ?  smile

    • PsychoHyena says:

      03:41pm | 31/08/12

      @pa_kelvin… pun intended?

    • A says:

      04:07pm | 31/08/12

      @pa_kelvin . I see what you did there. Darn…. Holey socks…. Very subtle.

    • nihonin says:

      04:09pm | 31/08/12

      Sew that’s the name of the next ‘Dilemma you reckon, eh pa_kelvin.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      05:02pm | 31/08/12

      PsychoHyena…..What pun?... smile @nihonin….Touche… smile

    • pa_kelvin says:

      07:53pm | 31/08/12

      nihonin…......I might have put my foot in it… smile

    • AdamC says:

      02:06pm | 31/08/12

      Let this staff member know that her performance is not up to the standard expected; have a discussion about how you can help her improve her sales skills; set and agree goals for her to improve. If you both determine this is not the job for her, then fine, she can go. In short, forget about upsetting your friend and start engaging in some elemtary people management!

      Also, maybe you should consider how you incentivise your staff to make these budget targets. Are they given bonuses or commissions?

    • George says:

      02:08pm | 31/08/12

      It’s probably your fault. Clothes should sell themselves. This is not Hong Kong. Plus you’re competing with the internet these days.

      If Australians are pushed they’ll run!

    • sunny says:

      03:28pm | 31/08/12

      “Clothes should sell themselves.”

      That’s what I was thinking. People come into the shop, look at an item, try it on, (and in the case of women: repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat,..,..,..,..,..,..,.... ... ... ... .. . .  ..until everyone has gone out of their minds) and then either buy what they like or f* off. I would have thought the potential sackee was there to ‘assist’ sales, not ‘push’ sales - which most people find annoying.

    • George says:

      03:41pm | 31/08/12

      Yes well the entitlement mentality seems to have infected those brain surgeons in retail these days as well. Apparently we’re supposed to construct society around them.

      Then we’re expected to think that it’s utopia if we have 50 places to buy a laptop per square kilometre.

    • ibast says:

      02:11pm | 31/08/12

      Ever thought your products are over priced?

    • rod sexton says:

      02:12pm | 31/08/12

      Teach her to close.

    • Punters Pal says:

      02:16pm | 31/08/12

      Observe her performance at work and feel free to give her necessary criticism and feedback. Have you considered that the budget you have set is achiveable, even to yourself? I have no problem if you get rid of someone, but you better identify the reasons for her not meeting the budget, instead of jumping into conclusions.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      02:24pm | 31/08/12

      Hasn’t met your budget? What if nobody wants to buy anything? Maybe the stock is crap….....

    • Lauren says:

      02:24pm | 31/08/12

      Hmmm try offering her some incentives and see if she makes budget then?

    • Macca says:

      02:33pm | 31/08/12

      Provide a link (weekly charts, KPIs, team meetings, choose the medium that will most motivate her) to her performance and the success of the business. It should only take a month or two before she realises her poor sales are impacting on the performance of the shop. If that doesn’t put a rocket up her, it’s not a difficult decision to let her go.

    • marley says:

      03:12pm | 31/08/12

      He’s talking about a clothing stall, not a Myers department store.  I think you’re getting way too complicated.

      All he needs to do is (a) make sure she understands she is supposed to sell things, not just chat with the customers;  (b) explain that no one should get out without buying something, even if it’s only a handkerchief; (c) watch to see how she does; and, (d) if she needs training, provide it. 

      After a week, if she still has no sales, fire her.

    • CBR says:

      04:30pm | 31/08/12

      @Marley, as a woman who enjoys shopping, if I EVER feel like an employee is pressuring me for a sale, I will walk out of the store, whether or not I like the clothes or the price.

    • marley says:

      05:16pm | 31/08/12

      @CBR - there are ways of getting sales other than by pressuring customers.  My relative (the one that owns the surf shop) sells a lot of stuff - someone comes in to look at boards and may not buy one, but he leaves with wax or a legrope.  That kind of thing.

    • Sad Sad Reality says:

      02:48pm | 31/08/12

      Accuse her of rape. Even if you get busted lying, you’ll only get a slap on the wrist.

    • bec says:

      06:38pm | 31/08/12

      You don’t even try anymore, SSR. No laboured figurative language, no lame euphemisms for ladyparts, no reference to discredited ev-psych?

      This is a weak effort for you and you know it. This post is the Jefferson Starship to the Jefferson Airplane that was your early oeuvre.

    • Gregg says:

      03:05pm | 31/08/12

      You first need to be honest about whether it is just her!
      Then if it is, have you sat down with her and reviewed initial figures with the sassless ones?
      Was she doing it topless in the first week?

      Topless or not, if you have not made much of an attempt to correct the decline, if you’re committed to firing her you’ll certainly have some flow on with the family friend.
      At least if you have analysed the situation and attempted to correct it and there is still a personal shortfall and that can be discussed with her and the ff if need be, that’s all you can do.

    • simonfromLakemba says:

      03:19pm | 31/08/12

      Maybe the clothes are crap? who knows with such a short email regarding why.

    • Esteban says:

      05:23pm | 31/08/12

      Before I hire a friend or relative I ask myself “what if I have to sack them”?

      How hard is it going to be and will I lose my friendship?

      If the answer is yes then don’t hire the person in the first place. Business and pleasure often don’t mix well.

      Forget about getting off scott free. I would have a quite word with my friend prior to sacking the women in question. Your business has to come first.

      This is of course observing what she does to make sure she is not missing out something like closing the sale.

    • stephen says:

      06:15pm | 31/08/12

      Nothing ‘sells itself’, she has to make it happen.
      I reckon a bit more training might be in order.

      Why doesn’t the owner take her to a number of other stores, pretends to be a relative and tells her to listen carefully and watch how these salesmen/women handle the transaction ... if there is one, and then after a few visits sits her down at coffee and explains how it really should be done, (I’m assuming he knows.)

      Nothing is so underrated than to be a good salesman, whether it be direct selling, door to door or telesales.
      Training is paramount, and it is a quite exciting moment to use your skills as a seller/psychologist/confidante/employee, then to see a customer walk away happy.
      No hyberbole here ... if she knows her stock, likes people and there is enough at stake for her to make sales, (maybe put her on part commissions only ?) then you’ll make money and so will she.

    • JS says:

      06:56pm | 31/08/12

      the problem is you. you are obviously a horrific boss if she has lost the will to work in three weeks.

      maybe instead of being an arsehat you should actually try training and mentoring her.


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