Hiring, firing, and training – oh my! Plus, we talked about B2B sales tips, and how to incentivize floor staff to become your sales team!

With members from around the country, we learned a lot about trends, challenges, and wins in hardware retail this month. The marketing team shared a lot of great insight about having a contractor sales managers go to job sites and check in on needs and develop that face-to-face relationship. The General Managers focused on the process of hiring and firing and the importance of dealing with conflict like it’s a toothache – you have to address it immediately. We also talked about what being a good leader looks like, and it’s important to know that you don’t know everything. But this is just the start of what we talked about!

Let’s dive in!

septembers key takeaways

Key Takeaways

Marketing Mastermind Takeaways:

Our marketers group discussed everything from contractor charge accounts and rewards double dipping which was split on who, when, and how often each store does what. There was an argument for allowing the rewards program as both an incentive, a way to stay top of mind with strong brand advocates who know other contractors and as a reward for them being pro customers. There was arguments against for obvious reasons and a solid point made for how important a charge account is for contractors which outweighs the troublesome accounts and risks associated with giving credit to our highest-spending customers.

We also discussed the importance of training floor associates to ‘look for logos’, how to do that properly even without a B2B lead, and what kind of scripts work best to capture an email, like ‘let us run this out to you next time’. Big takeaway was letting the associates know that searching for B2B customers to sign up is just another version of great customer service! Marketers who support in designing cool cards that fit in vests and having $5 gift cards for those that are doing a great job add up to big-time traction for B2B. We’ll eventually share a template for a contractor sales appreciation party that charges for entry, but is a big-time hit and a cool concept for a home buyer appreciation basket that your local realtor buys from you!

A big question that we couldn’t answer was, ‘What discounts are you giving contractors on which items? Do you have a sliding scale or key that you use to offer these discounts?’. Hopefully, we’ll cover this next month.

Some other highlights that came up during the Marketing Mastermind was:

    • Giving contractors free beer is always successful (lean on vendors to coordinate the event) Template for this event is coming soon. 
    • Helpful resource for pads that floor staff can have in their vests.
    • Contractors want you to make it easy for them, make buying, delivering, and reordering easy!
    • Real Estate Agents love buying already-done home kits (baskets) to give to their clients. Bonus: you get in front of customers new to the area! (Reach out to Ace Hardware of Aurora to learn more!)

General Managers Mastermind Takeaways:

In our GM’s meeting, there was some serious empathy and compassion coming forward as we discussed successful techniques for hiring, firing, and the coaching that can be delivered in between. Conflict is like a toothache, address it immediately or it will get worse and eventually be very painful. The group interview concept is popular, where you have 8-10 interviewees and 3-4 various personality types from your team interviewing. There was a consensus that most interviewers can tell within 3-5 minutes if they’re going to have a good fit and some insights into expectation setting during the interview that will set the stage for future training and coaching opportunities.

Coaching to values is a major priority, and a commitment by the leadership and peer-to-peer groups is crucial to an employee’s success. ‘Hire to the personality and train to the skill’ was some advice shared, followed up by hiring managers that challenge you to add well-rounded strength to the team! Members have found value in the Ace attitude assessments, DISC, walk-and-talk interviews, 90-day plans, and post-termination convos with the team that provide an opportunity to soothe, educate, and reinforce the core values that we live by at each store. Consistency in hiring, firing, and coaching is absolutely necessary for trust building and setting personal vs professional boundaries helps to maintain healthy work relationships.

For other information on hiring, firing, and overall team culture – check out these resources:

Owners Mastermind Takeaways:

Our owner’s call got very detailed as we shared about current leadership roles that are important and others that may not be needed or can overlap, as well as the salaries and career paths of those roles.

There has been a collective PTSD that has come from teams that managed through Covid, and this needs to be addressed and supported.

We then got into bonus conversations where a little Jack Welch model is being successfully used where the top 20% of performers receive a 7-10% bonus, the middle 70% receive a cost of living increase, and the bottom 10% do not receive a raise. We then got deep in the weeds on labor percentages, bonus programs for OSR’s (lumberyard specific), delivery drivers, and even starting wages based on population and demand. A big takeaway quote about judging labor stats was, ‘If we’re below labor estimates, there’s a good chance that customers aren’t getting help and if we’re over on those estimated budgets, we’re not training them well enough to understand the complex system of scheduling’.

Some other highlights on for the Owners Mastermind:

  • Give people the opportunity to be a part of something – the right person will flourish and rise to the occasion.
  • Everyone is a leader.
  • Implementing new systems can be difficult, but shifting perspective ‘it’s not working more, it’s just working more efficiently’ can help.

B2B Mastermind Takeaways:

Our B2B discussion was led by owners who have been rolling up their sleeves and taking this challenge on themselves. Everyone sees the value in hiring a FT B2B salesperson, but not everyone has the bandwidth to train and/or manage this role.

There was a prioritization discussed about top-tier contractors receiving week-to-week, face-to-face meetings, middle-tier customers getting check-ins, and lower-tier B2B customers getting emails and other lines of nurturing communication. Being able to bill a homeowner on behalf of a general contractor has paid dividends in building strong relationships and trying to balance cold calls (top of funnel or tofu), and in-store customers with logos on their shirts is a balance that needs a hard and fast process in order to stay consistent!

Some other highlights on for the B2B Mastermind:

  • For some stores, it might be important to focus on in-store customers rather than cold calls.
  • A question came up: How do we transition from “this is a job” to “this is our culture”?
  • Contractors are looking for a way to simplify their business. How can you help them do that?


Join Us on October 18th for our Next Mastermind

For October, we’ll have four groups that meet: marketing, GMS, owners, and B2B.

Need help signing up? Send us an email: hello@hardwareinnovators.com

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