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The Secret Weapon of Retail Store Success: Healthy Store Culture and Happier Employees

Updated: Feb 16

Last year, a client came to me with a problem. He was frustrated because his retail store was not performing as well as he wanted. Despite his efforts to drive higher levels of accountability within his retail stores, he felt that little progress was being made around improving cleanliness, organization, and customer service. He would often have conversations with employees about job assignments. They would address the items he talked with them about but put in no extra effort to address other problems in the store that were visible and impacting customer satisfaction. He came to me seeking a way to transform the culture within his stores.

Executive Coach Dorian Cunion

We spent some time talking about his current approach. On a typical day, he would walk into the store, observe job assignments that had not been completed, and challenge the employees on why they were not getting more done. He would do this before saying hello, asking employees how they were doing, or acknowledging any progress they made since his last visit.

This conversation prompted me to ask the store owner, 

"How do you want your employees to feel when interacting with you?". 

After some thought, the owner said he would like them to feel motivated after interacting with him. He talked about his previous experience as an employee and how he worked hardest when he had a good relationship with his boss. He shared that his relationship with his boss was based on trust earned over time because his boss genuinely showed care and respect for him and the rest of his teammates. With this insight, we crafted a new approach to engaging with employees.

Four actions to improve retail store culture.

  1. He brought civility to the workplace. Instead of the owner coming in and jumping straight into business, I encouraged him to take things slower. He began to say hello to employees, ask them how their days were going, and about their families and life outside of work.

  2. He began to recognize small wins. Instead of focusing on all of the things the employees did not get done, he started to thank them for the small improvements they were making. The employees began to feel more appreciated and took more pride in completing tasks.

  3. He started to delegate more responsibilities to his manager. Instead of being the primary person holding employees accountable, he began to have more conversations with his manager about store performance and the manager's role in ensuring that employees were completing tasks.

  4. He invested time in training employees how to execute tasks to his expectations. When he observed that job assignments were not being completed to his expectations, he would check with the employees to understand if they knew the best way to complete the task. He would teach them how to complete the task efficiently and effectively if they did not.

The impact of happier employees.

These simple behavioral changes lead to cultural change within the store. Over the course of four months, the owner reported that the overall feel of the store changed. Employees seemed

  • happier to come into work

  • improved their execution of job duties

  • began to greet the owner by showing him what they had accomplished while he was gone

This change happened without the owner having to fire any employees or implement special incentives. He was able to start store culture change by

  • treating the employees with more dignity and respect

  • demonstrating appreciation for small wins

  • empowering his employees to take more responsibility for store conditions

  • ensuring they were adequately trained

By changing how he interacted with his employees, the owner was able to transform the culture within the store, which led to improved customer experience and higher sales.


Being a store owner is challenging. It is especially difficult when the employees who work for you are not motivated to perform at a high level. One of the secrets to success as a business owner is to manage your employees based on their potential. Your employees are capable of exceeding your expectations when you provide the resources and environment they need to thrive. Just like a rose will not grow with proper water, soil, and sunlight, your employees need direction, training, and positive reinforcement if they are going to reach their potential. The time you dedicate to building a great organizational culture will unlock the potential of your employees and organization.


Thank you for reading this blog

Executive Coach Dorian Cunion

As an executive coach and small business consultant, I guide small business owners and business professionals in achieving their professional and business goals.

Whether you want to start, transform, or improve your business or career, I can help you magnify your strengths, minimize weaknesses, identify threats, and take advantage of opportunities.

Have Feedback  Send me a note at


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