Have you ever heard of the gig economy? It’s the newest way businesses in all industries are trying to save money – by hiring contractors to help with projects instead of bringing part – or full-time team members on board. This is all done in the name of flexibility. The idea is, you only spend what you need to spend and not a penny more. No lost productivity. No wasted man hours that don’t result in revenue. None of it.
It sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Especially with holiday season (and the post-holiday lull) on the horizon? But if you work in the retail industry, the gig economy could be hurting your business more than you realize.
When Would You Hire a Contractor?
The question that probably comes to mind when you consider the gig economy is, when would you hire a contractor for retail?
Some of the most popular types of contractors for retail businesses include:
– Technology consultants who come and fix occasional problems with equipment;
– Local marketers that can help penetrate local regions better than corporations;
– Trainers that come in and teach new skills to employees.
Although these are all valuable, there is a lot to consider before hiring a contractor for a project in your retail business.
Modern Consumption Patterns Are Changing
The way consumers make purchases today has changed from the way we did it five years ago. Shoppers now make a little over half of their purchases online, compared to 48% of their purchases online in 2015 and 47% of their purchases online in 2014, according to comScore and UPS.
The way to get people into your store is to deliver exceptional customer service. If you only bring a contractor on board when you have a crisis, you’re waiting until it’s too late. By having a plan in place before a problem occurs, you can solve issues quickly and maintain a smooth running operation.
In retail, staff turnover is common. Employees come and go, which means the trainer you invested in will need to come back more often than you might anticipate to keep your employees well trained.
There is a middle ground: Increased flexibility for employees.
Flexibility is attractive for you as the employer and it’s equally attractive for your team. One way to do this is by empowering your team to have the flexibility to maneuver their schedule so they work as much or as little as they’d like (within reason) and on the days that’ll give them the best work and life balance (again, within reason).
Another way to enable flexibility is to give your team time off to pursue their career goals. This might mean fewer in-house trainings but you’ll still encourage forward development as your team learns new skills and trades that can benefit your business.
The flexibility model for employees offers a better way to build your retail business. The empowered workforce you employ will be happier on the job and thus, will provide better service to your customers. That in turn will help encourage consumers to come back to your shop and help you avoid costly customer service issues.
Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007 and again in 2010, 2013 and 2014.