Staff training is the right style and fit for the team at Ziera, New Zealand’s multi-award-winning shoe retailer. Wendy McLaughlin, National Retail Manager is a huge believer because she’s seen it work and has benefited from it herself.
Wendy has decades of retail industry experience, training her way up from sales to senior management.
Her first step was customer service in a Telecom store. She then worked in sales for a family-owned stationery business which, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, eventually became part of the American-owned brand OfficeMax.
Curious about what makes a good business great, Wendy got the chance to upskill on-job with the new owners. By the time she left sixteen years later, she was a regional manager with retail qualifications on her CV.
“I’m lucky to have worked for people who recognized my potential. So today my passion comes from developing others,” says Wendy.
Joining the world of stylish-yet-comfortable women’s shoes eight years ago, the first thing she tried on with Ziera staff was on-job training qualifications.
Since 2012, 47 qualifications have been awarded to talented staff crafting careers with the business.
Some think training teaches people how to sell. But Wendy says the point is to give staff a well-rounded understanding of the business and the importance of their position.
“Staff are vital. You need to give their role meaning and help them develop their talents. Retail isn’t really seen as a career option when you first start because you’re unaware of the opportunities it offers. Staff engagement is extremely important to help everyone feel empowered. And for us, empowering women is a layer of our philosophy.”
Staff performance involves professional development, making sure people have the right product knowledge and customer experience training which is becoming more and more important in today’s highly competitive industry.
With 21 stores nationwide, including one outlet store, Ziera helps staff upskill with the New Zealand Certificate in Retail – Level 3, and the New Zealand Certificate in Business (Introduction to Team Leadership) – Level 3.
The ServiceIQ programme rings up multiple advantages, as well as sales, says Wendy.
“By building business understanding and acumen, training gives us confident and committed people who stay with us long-term. It helps us with succession planning, staff retention and incredibly satisfied customers.
“Some of our people feel that training will be like going back to school, but most are pretty pleased to gain a retail certificate when perhaps they left school without qualifications or career aspirations.”
Ziera attracts lots of positive feedback on Facebook and always scores highly in regular customer surveys, says Wendy.
“I had a customer who wrote a beautifully hand-written letter to me and our managing director, and that’s not an uncommon occurrence for us.
“Purely and simply, our customer feedback is very positive whether it be about a store, a staff member, or a style of shoe. People are just so grateful. And that comes right back to the training we do with our team.”
To Ziera, on-job training is not just a passing fashion. It helps them stay on top with their customers and for the growing business it’s a perfect fit.
For more information, please contact ServiceIQ on 0800 863 693 or email intel@ServiceIQ.org.nz