Managing Details For Better Retail
The small business owner is often a Jack-of-all-trades. Your retail store must be stocked, and the stock rotated. Customers must be served, inventory maintained and accounted for, and – well, the list is almost endless. Couple this with the fact not many retail managers actually have training in management, and you begin to see the problem. It helps to have an eye for detail, yet the ability to see the overall picture. Weakness in either of these areas can create problems even to the point of costing you business.
Time management is an entire science on its own. Time-on-Task studies are conducted to this day, affecting everything from mail delivery to assembly lines. In your retail store, time management keeps your store displays fresh and reduces waste.
Problem solving skills are crucial to managing time. Basically, there are three ways to handle problems: face them head on and solve the problem, delegate, or ignore it until it resolves itself. Too many ineffectual managers choose the latter and find themselves in trouble with the results. For more efficient time management, take care of problems as soon as they arise. In some cases, one of your employees can take care of the problem. For example, let your accountant know of payroll problems or have a qualified employee rebuild a display.
Interruptions can be the bane of a manager’s existence. Train your staff to take care of customer questions and requests and work as independently as possible. This allows you to take care of managerial duties that no one else can handle.
Managing your staff can be even harder than managing time. Make sure you communicate your expectations to your staff and expect them to comply. Be specific, and evaluate the outcome. If you have a dress code, speak directly to an individual who does not comply. Blanket announcements in meetings about “some of you are not following the dress code” are ineffective. The person who is not following dress code is oblivious or disobedient, and the rest of the employees feel slighted.
This management style applies to all aspects of an employee’s duties. If you allow one employee to arrive late on a regular basis or clock out early, the other employees will eventually become lax in their job attendance. Maintenance of store displays, updating customer loyalty cards, greeting customers as they enter are all policies that should be clearly outlined and enforced on an individual basis.
Some people do their job properly for the praise. Some employees are not motivated by anything but a paycheck, and may learn to excel at their jobs in order to keep that paycheck. Learn what motivates each employee. Yours is a small business, so you have the opportunity to personalize your management style.
Be realistic in your expectations. You may never be able to coach certain employees toward excellence. At that point, you have to decide whether or not to continue investing time in that person, or let them go.
A good manager should be good at team building. You have your own managerial duties that demand the lion’s share of your time. But, a portion of that time yields dividends when you teach your staff to work as a team.
Cross-train your staff so that they, at least, understand their coworkers’ jobs whether they are good at them or not. Some employees will excel at designing store displays while others are awful at it. Other employees may be quick at the checkout counter. By identifying individual skills, you can delegate responsibilities. This makes each team member feel appreciated and increases employee satisfaction.
You can also set goals for your group of employees. Set a goal of increasing store sales by 5% for the upcoming month, and give them the tools to manage this. If they achieve this goal, reward the group. But, be aware that one employee may be responsible for this achievement, while the others let him or her do the work. Be prepared with a “Plan B” if this is the case.
Be Ready for Change
Just when you think you have it all figured out, everything changes. The retail industry fluctuates according to wants, needs, and taste. As the manager, you should study trends and be prepared for changes.