Retail Employee Training: 4 Things Every Retail Training Manual Needs

An employee reading a retail training manual

Cris Willis

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Training is an area that can make a BIG difference in your business and a strong retail training manual can make all the difference.

Through an organized training process that includes follow-up and coaching, you can increase sales, improve morale, and provide a better customer experience.  Many retail store owners have good intentions for training, but they have poor follow-thru due to all the other demands on their time.  Now is a great time to ReThink this area of your business and design a process that works for you.

Related: Hiring in Retail: How to Build Your Superstar Team

You need to create a training manual so that you follow the same process with every associate.

Building a strong retail training manual

To develop a superstar staff of associates, you need to train them in these key areas:  Store Culture, Sales Training, Policies & Procedures, and Product Knowledge.

Store Culture

Make sure your associate understands your underlying business and customer service philosophy from the very start.  Once they know your philosophy, everything else will make sense.  They will be able to make decisions based on your mission statement and core values.  The first part of your training program needs to emphasize who you are as a company and how you expect your associates to treat customers, vendors, and other team members.

Give your staff a clear definition of what customer service means to you.

Bob Negen, with WhizBang! Training uses this philosophy WWMCWWhat Would My Customer Want?  When you build your customer service philosophy around this question, you will focus on the best ways to service your customers.

In your training manual, also be sure to include a warm, personal, and friendly welcome letter to your new associate, along with your company history.

Sales Training

Start by writing down your 5 to 10 Non-Negotiable Standards.  These are the most important things that your associates MUST do every day or with every customer.  Then you need to teach your associates exactly how you want them to execute these standards, and continuously coach them on the standards, and hold your associates accountable for doing these things.

Bob Negen, with WhizBang! Training developed the 6 Steps to the Perfect Purchase selling system. For more information, watch this video on the sales training process and how to train your staff.

Related: Instantly Engage Your Customers in 3 Easy Steps

Sales Training is not just a one-time event; it must be a continuous process.  The Retail Sales Academy is a fully automated ongoing interactive sales training program for your associates.  This program makes it easy to train your employees and to track their progress.  The Retail Sales Academy helps everyone on your staff be the best salespeople they can be.  They will all learn that Great Selling is just Great Customer Service.

Policies & Procedures

Your associates need to be trained on all your store’s policies and procedures.  It all needs to be written down in a manual to take home with them and review.  This manual will include all the basics of working at your company.

The last page of the manual should be a form stating that the employee was given the manual and has read it.  Have the employee sign those forms and give them to you within their first week of work. This way, you know that every employee has been given the same information.  Over the years, as policies and procedures change, update those pages and give that new information to your current associates.

It is very important to have it all in writing.

“If it ain’t written, it ain’t real.”

                                       Bob Negen


Every employee needs to know

  • How to ask for time off
  • What the dress code is
  • How to use the register
  • What the return policy is
  • How reviews are handled
  • What benefits are offered and what the eligibility is
  • When the pay periods are
  • Policies on cell phones, social media, computer use, parking, safety
  • How to handle holds, special orders, repairs, coupons, gift certificates, curbside pickup
  • Store opening & closing procedures
  • Housekeeping standards
  • and more

For a more complete listing of the items needed in the manual along with an Employee Training Manual Template, check out the Retail Mastery System from WhizBang! Training.

Product Knowledge

Sales associates need to be trained on the products you carry.  Make sure you don’t just give them the plain facts about the merchandise, explain the features and the benefits. The features are important, but to the customer, the product’s benefits are what will make them buy.  Be sure to teach your associates what problems each item can solve in a customer’s life.

Reach out to your vendors and your sales reps.  You can often schedule them to do product training for your associates in your store or via an online meeting.  Do not overlook the valuable resources available to you through the vendors’ websites, online portals, and the sales representatives for the product.

Be sure to provide industry-appropriate magazines, websites, newsletters, and other resources for your associates so that they can keep up with industry trends and new innovations.


By taking the time to train your associates and following a consistent process, you will see these benefits:

Improved employee performance

Employees who feel secure in their knowledge of the store, the product, and the operations will be more efficient in all they do.  Your salespeople will provide a better customer experience, leading to more repeat business and increasing your sales.  The backroom associates will make fewer mistakes and thus save you money.

Better employee satisfaction and morale

Employees who feel inadequate, underachieving, or unsupported are unhappy.  People want to do a good job, but they need to know what is expected of them and be given the skills and support to do their job.  Training helps keep your employees happy and happy employees are more likely to stay with you and bring less conflict into the business.  This all leads to better morale and creates a successful culture in your workplace.


By having written documentation and training each associate the same way, you will gain consistency throughout your business.  Every associate will know what is expected of them and provide the same excellent customer experience you seek with every customer contact.  This consistency will foster your brand image and build strong customer relationships and improved customer loyalty.


Offering continuous training and development to your staff and managers will bring them all to a higher level.  With a strong retail training manual, you can sharpen the skills and knowledge of your staff and reduce any weak links within the company.

Would you like to empower your managers and key associates to think like an owner and entrepreneur?  Sign them up for the monthly Key Players Mastermind Group with Retail Clarity CoachingClick here to schedule a free 20-minute Strategy Session to see if this is the right fit for your team.

Cris Willis

Cris is a business coach for independent retailers. With 25 years of experience owning and operating a family business, she now guides retail owners to make smarter decisions regarding inventory management, marketing, sales training, product assortment, and more. When not at work, she loves to travel the country with her husband in their motorhome.

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