Managing a retail store is tough work.
Between operations, merchandising, marketing and facility upkeep, retail business owners have their hands full.
Managing the details of retail is the difference between making it or not. All too often, retail owners become lax in their operation and put themselves at an unnecessary disadvantage with their customers. It may seem elementary, yet so many retailers miss the little things – the details that customers notice. They miss the chance to be operationally excellent.
Being operational excellent enables your employees to transcend beyond “employees” to become “ambassadors” of your store. When employees become ambassadors of the store and its personality, they become an extension of the brand image.
Operational excellence will require you to think through every detail of your operation and develop a plan for each area in advance of the customer interaction allows for friendly and successful customer service.
In the end, your employees and customers will benefit if you provide the following:
Train Your Team: Detailing your expectations in advance for your team is one way to ensure that each employee is cross-trained and aware of their role in the store. All too often, managers leave too many procedures to “chance” and the employee will take the path of least resistance, often shortcutting the customer.
Make Your Marketing More Powerful: Investing money on marketing is critical to any successful business. If you are like any retailer, making your local marketing more efficient is paramount to the overall success. There is nothing more frustrating in retail than communicating a motivating marketing campaign to drive in customer traffic, then dropping the ball operational.
Deliver Better Customer Service: Customers are busy people. While one would like to believe that customers enjoy standing in line or waiting for a sales associate to greet them, the truth of the matter is many would rather buy and go. Having your operation in tip-top shape not only delivers the best service to each customer but enables it to increase the number of customers you can reach.
Improve Operational Throughput: Creating a work environment that is focused and organized, provides the opportunity to take advantage of incremental sales that come your way. In a disorganized retail setting, customers will become impatient and seek other options – i.e., your competition. Your goal to capture every sales opportunity that comes into your store.
Build Energy & Focus: Employees that have clear direction and roles, will channel their energy toward greater customer service rather than spending time trying to figure out what is expected of them. In my experience, operational teams have always been able to take on significantly more, if the expectations were fair and focused.
Provide Balance: Let’s face it, we work because we must. Given the choice between scrubbing base boards or lying by the pool, almost all of us would choose the latter. Creating an operationally excellent work environment enables you to surpass the expectations of your operations while providing for a healthy balance of life.
In retail, it is the little items that add up — operations is about preparation first, then execution. Having your store buttoned-up from top to bottom not only puts your best foot forward to your customers but ensures that your entire staff is in alignment to your executional expectations.
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John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., a strategic planning, project management and interim general management firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience, and general retail industries. With more than 25 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written “Game-Changing Strategies for Retailers.” In addition, he has two step-by-step manuals, “Local Store Marketing for Retailers” and “How to Stage a Killer Grand Opening!” All are available on Amazon.