Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

by : 
Kim Perkins
July 1, 2012

Question: We have an employee who has been with us about six months. She is reliable and a good salesperson. However, it has come to our attention she is scheduling private appointments with clients (she is knowledgeable in essential oils and homeopathic remedies and is also a massage therapist) while she is at work. I’m uncomfortable with this, but not sure how to proceed.

Answer: It is never OK in any business situation for an employee to conduct personal business on company time. You are paying this person to represent your store, not promote herself. I would talk with her privately and make sure she understands this is not professional or tolerable behavior. You also can coach her in the proper way to handle this type of situation, for example, by saying, “I may be able to be of further assistance to you …” or “I am knowledgeable about that … but right now I’m working. You can reach me after hours at …” If she violates your policy after that, let her go.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to