When I worked as divisional manager for a department store chain, nothing could strike fear in our hearts quite so much as a corporate visit to a store in our division. Every element of the store across all departments had to be absolutely flawless for these visits. Hundreds of extra hours were spent prepping the store to make sure it was perfect — all for a team of bigwigs that would be there less than an hour.
The thing is — it was all an illusion. No store looks like that 365 days a year. It was simply impossible to maintain an environment like that with the hours scheduled because there were so many other things to take care of every day. But none of us could say that, and the executives passed through, satisfied, without ever knowing what a day at that store was really like. My friends at other retail companies told similar tales.
Store managers, along with other leaders like assistant managers and operations managers, are at the forefront of your business, working hard to make sure their store performs well for you. But there also might be some things on their mind they don’t want to share.
“I need more time to walk the floor.”
A staggering 82 percent of retail store managers in a study by Square Root said that “having more time on the floor to focus on the customer experience would positively impact their store’s performance.” Spending time in the back on tasks like completing reports, preparing deposits or reconciling registers isn’t improving customer experience. Automate tasks that don’t add value to CX. Being on the floor with customers and keeping an eye on cleanliness, order and employee performance is the only way your store leaders can deliver the performance you expect.
“I don’t have enough time to properly train employees.”
Retail turnover is high, and stores become revolving doors of new employees who don’t know your technology or your procedures. Retail consulting group RSR studied issues around the retail workforce and found that 34 percent of retailers said they expected their employees to learn on the job and that 62 percent of “retail laggards” train new and existing employees for fewer than 10 hours per year.
When employees learn on the job, compliance becomes a big issue. They learn from their peers, who learned from their peers before them, creating a legacy of workarounds and old habits that become ingrained. Ensure that your leaders have time and resources to train employees on CX — and store technologies that help you deliver it.
“I’m drowning in reports.”
I’ve seen it all when it comes to reports, from stacks and stacks of paper logs to electronic spreadsheets with dozens of tabs that have to be completed by hand daily or weekly by store leaders. And it's not just time-consuming for stores — division and corporate leaders have told me how overwhelming they find these deluges of reports.
It’s probably time to take a look at the reports you require from stores and ask yourself:
- Are all the reports necessary? Could any be combined?
- Are any of them asking for information you don’t use at corporate?
- How often do you get them?
- How do you act on them at corporate?
If the information you get from reports isn’t helping you improve your business, give your store leaders that time back to work on more productive duties. And speaking of reports…
“If my store is underperforming, more reports don’t help. They hurt.”
In my experience, leaders at bad stores know their location is bad. But to fix them, most retailers assign extra reports to track their activity and progress toward improvement. You certainly want to keep a close eye on stores with poor customer service, low sales or high shrink so they don’t slip farther behind. Automated corporate reporting can help you keep tabs on store performance without placing more burden on a store manager who’s already struggling.
Create connections with your stores
It’s difficult to know what’s happening in your stores without being in them every single day. You can’t do that, so close communication with store leaders and clear visibility of what’s happening in your stores will keep you connected. When you do visit, don’t let stores put on a show. Truly talk with your employees to find out what they think could be improved. Real conversations will show you what you can do to get — and stay — ahead.