There comes a time in every multi-unit retailer’s business cycle that they want to launch a new product that requires a reconfiguration to their store. The challenges arise when the equipment goes to the store, and the manager asks, “where does this go?” and proceeds to find a home for it. Over time with each new product launch, more and more “stuff” gets sent to the store and before you know it, each store is configured in vastly different ways.
Getting your arms around your facilities in an organized fashion is critical for the multi-unit operator. Maintaining a central repository of every store allows for key decisions to be made with all components of the store considered.
At a minimum, here is what is recommended in a centralized, store-by-store database:
Overall Facility: The exact dimensions of the site, including the floor plan, is essential to have at the ready. A detailed site plan of the location – both interior and exterior – provide several answers to questions when it comes to the viability of the rollout at the store level.
Equipment: Next in the database is a detailed list of all the equipment that is housed at each of the stores. The equipment location within the store should already be identified in the floor plan above. By contrast, this list pertains to the make and model of the equipment. You might as well check the size of the electrical panel.
Financial History: The store-by-store database also provides the opportunity to link store -specific financial information for each location. The database will enable the users to know the historical sales, margin, and expenses for any location.
Capital Investments: Previously employed capital investments should also be tracked on a store-by-store basis. Is this a store that has responded favorably to previous upgrades? Or have repeated investments failed to deliver the expected returns? Managing your capital investments on a store-specific basis helps increase the aggregate return on investment (ROI) for the entire portfolio.
Store Characteristics: These attributes may be physical (big vs. little store); demographic (urban vs. suburban vs. rural); or even by age (new vs. old). If the assigned characteristics provide a glimpse into the predictability of future investments, then your dollars will go that much further.
Pictures: As the adage goes, a picture tells 1,000 words and having a pictorial database on each store is essential. A sequence of pictures should be taken at each store the same way – that way comparisons are easily made.
Creating a store-by-store database may appear to be daunting at the beginning, but the benefits of having that information at a moment’s notice are invaluable. Strategic and tactical decisions on key initiatives are much more easily made and executed.
For more detailed info, check out this video:
John Matthews is responsible for the management of all consulting activities for Gray Cat Enterprises, which include retail consulting for multiunit operations; interim executive management; and project management. Prior to founding his own company in 2004, Matthews held senior management positions as president of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches and as VP of marketing, merchandising, facilities, corporate communications and real estate at Clark Retail Enterprises Inc. Additionally, Matthews worked for nine years in marketing management as the national marketing director of the Little Caesars Pizza Corp.