Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to Work in Retail

Working in retail can be tough. In the span of thirty seconds, the phone is ringing, a customer wants a refund on a product, another wants her daily lottery numbers, and you were just informed your help just called in sick. Here’s how to be a successful customer service staff in retail.
1. Never go into work hungry. Whether you have to be to work before the sun rises, or in between lunch and dinner, always grab a bite to eat beforehand. Retail is unpredictable and it can be completely dead one minute and a madhouse the next. Break time may be scheduled for 2:30, but if it’s busy, then there’s little chance you will go on time. Also, it’s much better dealing with irritated customers on a full stomach rather than an empty one.
2. Wear that smile. The most important part of your uniform is your smile. When the customers or associates are being difficult, don’t let them get to you. Some customers want to make you flustered, but if you keep your cool, you’ll show them how contained you are. A customer is more likely to come at you with a positive attitude when they see you smiling at them rather than frowning and rolling your eyes.
3. The customer is always right. Without the customer, you would be out of a job, so make sure you treat them how you want to be treated. Be on their side. Even though sometimes it’s hard to give in when you know you’re right, show the customer that you believe in them. Most of the time, it’s not that big of an issue in the grand scheme of things, so it’s better to please the customer so they will come back time and time again.
4. Think positive. The best advice anybody can give is to think positive no matter how dull the outcome looks. When everything seems to be unraveling all at once, remember that it will all be over soon. Instead of thinking about quitting on the spot, think about your next vacation or your family. Don’t ever think that it only happens to you because it happens to everyone.
Working in retail is unpredictable, so remember to stay calm and do what the customer asks. Giving them a refund for what seems to be nothing is irritating, but remember that they will be back to spend infinite times that amount in the future.

Banning Plastic Bags in Florida

After a long day at work, Julio Cruz says he has to think about what to make for dinner, what event the kids have to attend, and what time is church. The last thing on his mind is to remember his reusable bags at the grocery store.
This may soon change if a proposed ban of all plastic and paper bags is approved by Florida legislatures. The bill calls for the bags to be phased out over a five year period, and eventually banned, forcing people to use their own reusable bags wherever they would normally use plastic or paper bags.
According to the Retail Report that was released by the Department of Environmental Protection, the usage of plastic bags would be phased out over five years. At first, commercials would be run to educate the public about how harmful the bags are to the environment. Then, over the next four years, an increasing tax would be charged for each bag used. Eventually, a total ban on bags used in all retail stores would be enforced.
Florida is looking to become the first state to issue the ban. Gov. Charlie Crist told WPLG Miami that his greatest concern is not about how much the ban would cost, but how it would impact Florida’s environment.
“It’s hard to grow up in Florida and not care about our beauty,” said Crist.

Cruz says that he cares about the environment, but hasn’t seen a major problem occurring with the use of plastic bags. “In fact, I actually recycle most of the bags I use, either by reusing them for lunches, or by taking them to a store that recycles them,” said Cruz, 28.
The American Chemistry Council says that roughly 100 billion paper and plastic bags are used each year in the United States alone. Of that, only 10 percent are recycled.
Publix is one place where people can bring both paper and plastic bags back to be recycled. Unlike most businesses, Publix isn’t worried about the ban. Moultrie Publix Customer Service Manager Gail Harrington only sees positive outcomes from the future ban. “Not only will it save our company money, but the big win is for the environment,” she said.
Publix shopper Amanda Riddle, already uses reusable bags.
"When they first started coming out a few years ago, it was a no-brainer for me to invest in a few.”
Riddle estimates that she’s saved close to a thousand plastic bags by buying just four reusable bags.
Harrington agrees. “We’ve seen a significant increase in reusable bags coming through on a day to day basic.” She said she believes about one in every three of four customers has at least one reusable bag.
An all out ban would force everyone to invest in some sort of reusable bag, whether it be a backpack, a canvas bag, or not even needing a bag at all, something Cruz might try.
“I usually shop daily, and don’t get that many groceries, so maybe the answer to my problem is to not get bags at all and to just carry the food myself,” said Cruz.