Highly Successful Retail Managers (HSRMs) are not auditors or police and they do not try to act that way when they are in the stores.
A manager’s presence in a store can be the best and most productive way to increase performance of all of the individuals working in that store provided the manager handles it properly.
For the most part, this assumes that the manager is not in the same store every day.
It applies to Area/District/Regional and Head Office Managers in particular. However, everything included here can be modified to fit any retail management position.
When an HSRM plans a store visit, or a department visit, it is important that he has expectations for the time allotted. The time is wasted if it is not productive.
To that end, he makes a list of all of the topics he wants to cover during the visit. At the top of the list are the things that he deems most important to the business.
One of those is the Profit & Loss Statement for the business unit (store, group of stores, department, etc.).
The HSRM is adept at reading/analyzing the P&L, or Operating Statement.
He makes sure that he shares information based on that Operating Statement, while protecting the confidentiality of the information, of course.
Often store operations are improved based on the results learned from the Operating Statement.
Also, he makes sure the employees are aware, in advance, of what the visit will look like – what will be expected.
It is always recommended that the employees prepare for the visit in some way. This is not to say that they need to rush around cleaning, etc.
Obviously this should not be necessary.
What it means is that, for the employees’ own professional development, he should be expected to do some pre-work even if it is kept to a minimum.
The point here is to ensure that the interaction is productive; that all parties get something out of the interaction.
About prioritizing, if a manager goes into a store and starts discussing the organization of the cash desk and leaves a sales discussion for later in the day, it could be perceived that the manager places more importance on organization and tidiness than on sales.
That would be a very wrong message and the HSRM leaves no room for doubt.
Here are the “must do’s” for a HSRM while in a store/department:
- Interact with customers
- Role Model excellence in customer service
- Role Model selling skills – without taking the credit away from the associates in the store
- Inspect everything – displays, paperwork, back room organization, cleanliness, lighting, stock levels, employee files, cash desk organization, supplies, schedule, security, – inspect with genuine interest and questions; not for the purpose of catching them doing something wrong. When something is found to be incorrect or not up to standard, this is the opportunity to coach for improvement. Or, if it is not the first time you have found this particular deficiency, then it is time for a more formal disciplinary conversation.
- Take time for a short chat with every associate in the store – this should include asking them about their sales and how they are performing against their targets – they should know how they are doing.
- Support the efforts being made and comment on anything that is being done well.
- Be very clear that your presence does not trump a customers presence – make sure they understand that, when talking with you, they should excuse themselves when a customer is present. This is one more way the HSRM ensures that employees understand who top priority is.
Here are things the HSRM would “not do”:
- Act like a policeman or auditor
- Try to catch someone doing something wrong
- Spend all of your time on the telephone
- Expect attention when a customer is in the store
- Expect them to do as you say and not as you do
When present in a store, members of management are being watched very closely. Employees will pick up a lot of information from a management visit.
The HSRM designs the visit to get the most out of it. All interactions with store employees must be productive.
At the end of a visit the HSRM wants to know that the time was well spent and that the business has moved forward in some way due to the visit.