As the saying goes, “employees don’t leave their job, they leave their manager.” You might beg to differ when it comes to your own employees, but think back to every job you left. What or who was the deciding factor?
Because loyalty isn’t something you can buy — though some managers make an attempt to — it’s still often treated like a luxury that can’t be afforded. But for managers who understand what it takes to run a thriving team, earning loyalty is something they can’t do without.
Last month in this column, we discussed how the success of your business equally depends on the happiness of your customers and employees, who we nicknamed “the other customer.” We explored the importance of emotionally and mentally engaging your staff in the way that you train, treat, and reward them — the goal being to encourage employee loyalty, because, after all, your profits are tied to their performance.
To better understand how business owners earn loyalty from their staff, I reached out to a few online forums playing host to gun enthusiasts across the country. I heard from a mix of managers, retail employees and retired law enforcement. They responded with their experiences in the workplace — both the good and the bad. As I read their stories, I noticed three repeating factors that played a role in fostering loyalty: employers who cared about their employees as people, who properly trained their staff and who recognized and rewarded good work.
Promote Loyalty From The Top
Richard, a dedicated manager who successfully operates a TripAdvisor top-10 ranked hotel and restaurant in Grand Junction, Colo., earned the loyalty of his 30-person staff with his “in the trenches” style of leadership. Richard is willing to lend a hand bussing tables, making beds and manning the front desk when necessary to show his staff he’s invested in their success.
Richard also allowed a few financially strapped staff members to live in the hotel temporarily until they could find permanent housing, setting them up with a tab and deducting small payments from their paychecks. When it’s been a particularly hard day, Richard treats the team to $75 worth of pizza — “A small price to pay to show people you care,” he says. “If you’re talking about three or four people in a gun store, one large pizza is a lot of good will.” His gesture is more valuable than the cost of the pizza.
Because Richard understands “good employees are worth their weight in gold,” he makes substantial investments into their training and personal lives, and has won their loyalty as a result.
Roger, who works for a 50-year-old, family-owned company of over 2,000 employees in Mississippi, credits his loyalty to the owner’s leadership style — which he calls “manage by walking.” Every month, the owner strolls the floors of the building, visiting with Roger and his co-workers. “With over 2,000 employees, he’ll still remember your kid’s names and ask about them and how they’re doing,” Roger marvels. “He never talks about business during these walks; saving that for specific business visits.”
In 50 years, the owner has never had a lay-off and is cautious when it comes to filling open positions, considering how that person will fit in with his team. Roger says, “That tends to mean we’re slightly understaffed, but everyone knows once you’re hired, you have a job for life if you so choose.”
Relationships Are Key
Proud Texan, Donald, remembers the day a local gun store lost his business. He was about to buy a revolver when a Ruger expert showing him the firearm placed it back in the case mid-sale while Donald had turned away momentarily. Surprised, Donald asked the man, “Are we through here?” The unperceptive salesman replied, “I guess so,” losing himself the sale. Donald promptly left the store and purchased the same revolver elsewhere.
In contrast, Donald’s relationship with Steve, a salesman at his local pawnshop, is drastically different. Steve knows Donald by name, has memorized which firearms he prefers, and occasionally calls when a gun arrives that might interest Donald. If Steve is out to lunch, Donald waits until he returns. Steve is the only person he’ll do business with at the shop. That’s because he’s willing to pay for Steve’s level of customer service and salesmanship. He’s earned both Donald’s business and his loyalty, in the process.
Richard, Roger, and Donald have been on both ends of the counter. They know what it means to be loyal to an employer and also what is means to earn the loyalty of an employee. If you’re unsure where your employees stand, it might be helpful to start a conversation, maybe over a slice of pizza, your treat. Although you can’t buy loyalty, your employees can tell when you’re genuinely invested in them. Join the discussion about employee loyalty, by emailing email@example.com.
Editor’s Note: Taylor Smithfield is in the midst of a four-part series on customer retention, employee loyalty and related topics. If you have a comment on how this plays out in your store, send us an email.
NSSF Career Center Provides Connections
The NSSF has revamped their job posting service to debut their new NSSF Career Center, which connects you to a network of potential employees. Located at www.jobs.nssf.org, the Career Center provides unparalleled exposure to professionals in the firearms industry for both NSSF members and non-members.
Join with an employer account and easily post jobs and search for employees. When you pay for a job listing, you can search the database and receive notifications when a résumé meets your criteria. Job seekers can easily upload their résumés, as well.
“We’re excited to launch this new platform to the benefit of both employers and job seekers alike,” said Deb Kenney, NSSF VP of human resources and administration. “No other job board out there is dedicated solely to fulfilling the hiring needs of the firearms industry, and we think our new Career Center will not only fill that gap, but provide a much-needed avenue for matching highly qualified industry professionals with the specialized jobs that require their skills.”
Lipsey’s Expands Flat Dark Earth Line G42
Lipsey’s has expanded their 33-model Flat Dark Earth pistol line, adding their Exclusive GLOCK 42 in the new color scheme. Molded with the FDE color at the time of manufacture (as opposed to an aftermarket coating), the G42 is both durable and resistant to chipping.
“The FDE line of GLOCKs have firmly entrenched themselves as a mainstream item,” says Jason Cloessner, Lipsey’s product development manager, who has been working with GLOCK for several months on the FDE model. “The G42 was a natural follow-up to what has become one of our most in-demand exclusive offerings.”
Blue Book, 3 Circle Announce Partnership
Blue Book Publications, publisher of Blue Book of Gun Values reference data, and 3 Circle Software, creator of Gun StoreMaster software for FFL retailers, announce a partnership to deliver information and productivity tools for dealers. Integrating Blue Book’s firearm information with Gun StoreMaster MarketView, dealers will now have access to a system that can quickly provide the information needed to better buy and sell firearms.
Gun StoreMaster’s software mitigates the risk of losing or misinterpreting vital customer information and helps owners to quickly acclimate new hires and increase their productivity. In addition, the software provides an electornic eSAFE Bound Book and built-in integration with QuickBooks POS.
“FFL dealers often need to support buying and selling decisions by researching the firearm marketplace. Our system speeds up this process by connecting to various information sources in one easy-to-use place,” said Steve Harris, 3 Circle Software CEO.
“We expect to leverage our unique information in additional creative ways with Gun StoreMaster MarketView, to further benefit FFL dealers,” said Adam Burt, Blue Book president.
Planned additions to the Gun StoreMaster family include the Gun StoreMaster Fast4473 and the Gun StoreMaster MarketView services which present a more vivid picture of the firearms distribution marketplace.
By Taylor Smithfield
Kalashnikov USA’s New Website, Rebranding
Kalashnikov USA has revealed their new website and company rebrand, refocusing their message to “Russian Heritage, American Innovation.” Improved changes include a revamped product page, highlighting the features, benefits, and specifications of each firearm. Customers can locate you by clicking the “Dealers” button, which provides them with a search to locate nearby stores. You’ll also find a database of retailers and distributors and a downloadable PDF of the product catalog.
“An iconic firearms platform, revered the world over, with a history of intrigue and controversy, now reborn as the new American Kalashnikov,” reads the website’s home page. “Building on the battle-proven AK system, the new Kalashnikov USA models will incorporate functions and features made specifically for an American audience. Whether you are a sport shooter, hunter, protecting family, home and country, the new Kalashnikov USA firearms will exceed your expectations of how a firearm should perform.”