With 20,000 employees, including store, distribution and the corporate office, Chico’s FAS knows a thing or two about motivating people to meet sales goals.
The Fort Myers-based fashion retailer — with the brands Chico’s, White House | Black Market and Soma — operates just over 1,400 stores. (That count has dropped recently, while the chain, like many retailers, navigates how many stores to have vs. its online and multimedia presence.)
Chico’s motivates its salespeople through more than one avenue. The combination of those efforts is what makes it effective, says Melody Jubert, vice president of central store operations. “The company goes above and beyond monetary rewards with positive recognition,” she says.
On monetary incentives, store associates receive a selling bonus, and the company also offers a monthly bonus for store managers and field leaders based on the performance of a store or group of stores.
Stores set sales goals for the month that are then broken down by week and day. Employees can look at those goal numbers and see how much they need to sell that day. Jubert says associates try to beat their own goals or others in selling more merchandise.
Positive recognition of employees comes on several fronts. A big one is “& Awards,” an event Chico’s hosts that involves all the company’s employees. Employees can nominate others for the awards, given to people who display things such as a higher level of customer service or creativity. The awards are the company’s highest level of recognition. They are passed out at the company’s annual meeting at its headquarters, with about seven to eight awards presented a year. Jubert calls it an “Oscars-type event” led by Chico’s President and CEO Shelley Broader.
Chico’s also encourages store managers to offer shout-outs to employees whenever they see someone going above and beyond with a customer. At the corporate office, there are display boards just for the purpose of recognition. Employees can use them to post a description of something they saw someone do well that day. Stores sometimes display certificates praising employees in the back room.
“We definitely love positive recognition,” Jubert says. “It’s one of the keys to us for motivating and inspiring associates.”
The company also organizes contests at several levels. “We very much believe in contests,” Jubert says. Some contests are within a store and some are company-wide, impacting all brands. Others tie in with the company’s charitable initiatives, such as an annual contest Chico’s runs to encourage associates to sell specific products that raise money for Habitat for Humanity.
Contests range from the simple to the large scale and focus on a sales goal or a goal to sell a certain amount of a product. “Even the smaller ones can be just as motivating to the associates as the large,” Jubert says.
A smaller contest reward could mean funds to fill a store’s refrigerator with treats for employees. On the other end of the spectrum could be a reward like a trip to Orlando. Typically, Jubert says, larger trips tie back to charities Chico’s supports, like a trip to a Habitat for Humanity build in a different city.
Another key to encouraging employees to sell more in 2019 is the company’s introduction of new digital tools that allow associates to communicate with customers through several methods and send customers personalized looks and style recommendations. Chico’s is rolling out the program now, and Jubert says it will allow the company to continue to evolve to meet customer expectations, including allowing them to shop wherever, however and whenever they want to.
One final key to motivating salespeople at Chico's stems from the salespeople themselves, by listening to them — and learning what really is effective at motivating them. “The No. 1 advice I would tell companies is to listen to your associates,” Jubert says.
Chico’s leadership, she says, hosts listening sessions with employees, for example. “It’s just an amazing way to encourage our associates to provide feedback.” Several ideas have been implemented from the sessions. Jubert says, “When you listen to your associates that’s how you find out how to motivate them.”
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