Last week, I was in Torquay for the NFRN's annual conference and several delegates commented on my previous article in The Grocer about recruiting the right people.

This led to a number of discussions on the subject of 'once you've got the right people, how do you make sure you keep them?'

It was interesting how many people had not really considered the cost to the bottom line of advertising for a position, contacting applicants, interviewing, sending out 'no, thank you' letters, preparing contracts of employment and organising an induction training course. In hindsight, we all agreed that it takes up a huge amount of time and is frustratingly disruptive to our day-to-day business.

In last month's article, I touched on the importance of taking on the right person, in order to avoid all this disruption in the future. One of the retailers I spoke to from the north of England used a quaint old expression when considering job applicants: "If in doubt, do nowt." How appropriate!

Here, I want to examine a few simple techniques to ensure your brilliant new employee doesn't 'up sticks' in the first couple of weeks. I guess it's all about motivation and development.

Creating a development programme for your people gives them a reason to stay with you. Motivating them reinforces that desire.

I believe it's important to treat each member of your team as an individual, both in terms of development and in terms of motivation. We're all different one man's meat is another man's poison.

That's why we begin by creating a tailored programme for the new person and tweaking it as we go along, according to how quickly and how easily they pick it up in other words, knowing when to slow the training down and when to speed it up. This is where our management team comes into its own, and the reason we carry out several reviews in the early stages of someone's time with us to appraise their progress in each department they have worked in, cultivate their skills and review their objectives for the next few weeks.

How to keep hold of a good catch
1) Vary work to make it more interesting and less repetitive

2) Put praise before criticism

3) Treat everyone as your best member of staff

4) Nip office politics in the bud they can lead to bullying

5) Share plans, set ambitious (but achievable) targets, and reward
Once they're 'bedded in', so to speak, we try to keep their motivation high by communicating effectively on a continuous basis. This might involve starting an email by recognising a job well done; highlighting individual successes at our management meetings; putting their name in lights on our notice boards in-store; taking time out to occasionally make a phone call specifically to praise them for doing something particularly well; and, of course, the most effective communication of all face-to-face contact.

Another simple technique is that of 'praise before criticism', of course. In other words, remembering to give them a pat on the back before a kick up the backside! Someone once said that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar and I've certainly found it to be true when managing a team. It's not always easy to remember this technique when things have gone badly wrong, but trying to avoid the blame game while looking to prevent the problem cropping up again in the future is more likely to keep your people on-side than rushing around like a headless chicken, giving everyone the 'Alex Ferguson hairdryer' treatment.

Rewarding people for good work is far better, in my book, than punishing them for bad work. It creates a more enthusiastic working environment and, ultimately, can make the difference between someone leaving the company and someone staying there.

And finally, remember: the 'Great Place To Work' syndrome isn't just for your staff. It's also got to be a great place for you to work. If it is, you know you've got it right. If it isn't, you could be heaping wood on your own funeral pyre!n

Kishor Patel is a board member of Nisa Holdings and owns six stores (and an Indian takeaway)

Business Barometer
Mary Portas 'Queen of Shops' is advising David Cameron on saving the high street. Will she do any good?
She'll help: 38%
No idea: 37%
No help whatsoever: 25%

Do you run a loyalty scheme?
Yes: 17%
No, but would like to: 16%
No, wouldn't help: 60%

The ACS has accused energy companies of "bullying" small businesses. Is this fair?
Yes, the energy companies are bullies: 60%
Don't know: 30%
No, they treat small companies fairly: 10%

Have you ever been offered grey market goods to sell in your shop?
Yes: 11%
No: 89%

Did you take part in National Independents Week?
Yes: 25%
No, wasn't interested: 43%
No, never heard of it: 32%

Propertyof the week
What: Mossdale Service StationName of store: Carnforth, Lancashire

The freehold of the Mossdale Service Station is situated in a busy and prominent main road location on the A6 between Lancaster and Kendal and with easy access from the M6 (junction 35).

The business consists of a well-kept forecourt selling 3.5 million litres of fuel per annum, with additional jet wash, air and water station facilities. The adjoining convenience store enjoys gross weekly shop sales of around £20,000.

The site also includes spacious three-bedroom owners' accommodation. The freehold is available at an asking price of £1,850,000.

For further information contact Andrew Dodd of Christie & Co on 01618 333311.

New in my store
Name: Kay Samra
Name of store: SimplyFresh, Kenilworth
Main suppliers: Nisa, locally sourced produce
How often do you get new products in? All the time, especially seasonal fruit and veg. A lot of new products come in on promotion.
What products have you started stocking recently? We recently introduced Stella Cidre and Nando's crisps both of which have been massive successes more Levi Roots products, locally sourced pies and organic eggs from a local farm. We are always on the hunt for new local suppliers.
How did you find out about them? The cider has been heavily promoted these sorts of national launches you have to stock. The crisps and Levi Roots lines are from a specialist supplier. With the local products, we have a lot of recommendations from customers and SimplyFresh actively encourages this, but the best way to source is through farmers' markets.
Is any product selling particularly badly and why? Canned soft drinks are underperforming. We only stock six varieties but are going down to four. Also, home baking seems to be in decline. With the cost of energy, baking a cake is quite expensive.
Have you delisted any products recently? We have delisted a couple of specialist wines, and also Surf washing powder. We use an online range manager to help us see what is not selling well.
Are there any other products you've got your eye on? We are looking at more food-to-go and are in talks with Cuisine de France to put a serve-over in.