I recently heard someone bemoaning the fact that retail stores were not going to ever be the same after the pandemic and I just took that as a challenge to become better than ever. There is no doubt that the last 18 months have created a seismic shift in the retail business and regular life. While business has been great and adult retailers are selling more than ever, success brings its own stressors.
Finding good, loyal employees with the educational background and social skills level to talk to such a wide variety of customers that adult stores bring in has always been a challenge. Additionally, some employees don’t even reveal to close family where they work because of the shame factor. Even though I offer a competitive wage for the area and use a payroll company to offer benefits, it is still not considered white-collar work.
I will say, once I get someone in and trained and integrated into the crew, they do tend to last with me a long time. Nevertheless, it is a challenge to find the right mix of introverts that will sweat the details, and extroverts that will wow the customers with great customer service.
Like many of you, I have found the pandemic to be a high-water mark for our sort of retail because people are nesting and spending a lot of time alone together. Who knows when or if this trend will change? While I have increased our crew level on weekend shifts, who knows if the bottom will drop out when the vaccinations reach critical levels and we all get to go outside and play again?
To take some of the stress off of me, I have dipped my toe in the virtual work-from-home world and find a lot of things to love about it. I have gone through a personal assistant talent agency and actually have different assistants for different tasks.
Someone in Oklahoma is helping me create website content and proofreads my work before it goes live, while another assistant who’s based in Florida helps me receive inventory into my system properly. And an honorable mention goes to my online reputation management company, who slay internet trolls for me even while I am on vacation.
Some things I love about virtual workers is that once I show them my system, they don’t require as much oversight as my employees in the store. They each have their own business that they run from home and have an entrepreneurial mindset. They encourage me to be creative because it generates more billable hours for them. Time is as precious to them as it is to me. The more efficiently they can do a task, the more money they make.
I have tried multiple times to teach in-store employees to import spreadsheets using our POS system’s software, but most do not have the education to support that level of complexity. Formulas are a foreign language, and invoicing can take days at the store; however, my virtual assistant does it in hours.
Because virtual employees are able to maintain their privacy, the issue of working for an adult business is almost non-existent. As long as someone is mature enough to be comfortable with grammar-checking adult content, you can just say that you are a remote proofreader, and work from home so you can keep an eye on the kids. The social stigma is taken out of the equation.
At the end of the day, we are in the people business and adult stores will always need local talent, but the freedom to outsource some specific repetitive tasks has the potential to be a game-changer for productivity and the potential for growth.
Hopefully it will free up more time to focus on customers and ensuring that they have a great experience every time they walk through your store’s door.
I encourage you to think differently about how you can use the changing economy to help your business run better. The only thing in life that is constant is change; we may as well embrace it.