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Watch your staff for warning signs

One of the stresses of running your own business is that the show must go on regardless of how good or bad trade is.

When you’re busy keeping an eye on the bottom line and looking out for new product, dealing with staff can seem irritating.

But overlooking the signs from the shop floor is a cardinal error. Demotivated or unhappy staff lead not only to lack of sales, but maybe even theft. One of our shops had relaxed its staff bag check procedure, and failure to enforce this simple rule allowed one member of staff to steal shoes regularly for six months. She was caught thanks to an eagle-eyed fellow employee.

When we investigated we realised there were signs all along: the secretive manner and general unhappy demeanour. My point is – read the signs in front of you. We have since encouraged our supervisors at Bullfrogs to act on what they feel as well as what they see. If staff don’t look happy it’s probably because they aren’t happy, and that’s no good for either party.

However, sometimes I have to remind staff that we are not social services, we are a business, and expect staff to leave their woes at home.
If staffing issues are getting you down, try and remember what attracted you to fashion in the first place. What inspired me is a scene from the 1980s film American Gigolo, starring Richard Gere, where he matched various suits, shirts and ties to fit the evening’s shenanigans. And recently, my mate Dean West (of Ted Baker) recommended I read The Way We Wore by Robert Elms for a dose of inspiration. If you’re an ageing fashion-obsessed retailer, then this book could reinvigorate you too.

Michael Ashison co-owns footwear and clothing independent Bullfrogs in London

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