In this blog, I am going to share what it takes to be a successful store manager. This entire blog is focused solely on Rule #4: Execute Well and Win; Execute Poorly and Lose.
Excellence is a Choice
Here is what I believe: Excellence is a choice. Choose to execute well, expect good things. Execute poorly, and don’t expect to win.
We don’t always choose to execute poorly. Sometimes, we are having an off day, are stressed, frustrated with our employer, distracted or maybe even suffering from burn out. If you catch yourself executing poorly, stop and address what is happening. Gone unchecked, it will hurt your reputation and ultimately your career.
The ten actions that are laid out in this blog are part of a formula that has worked for me over and over again and will work for you as well to be a successful store manager.
Focus on Talent First
As a store manager, talent should be the first focus. Get that right and everything else will follow. First step – evaluate your current team. The top talent associates can help train or re-train. What you need is a team willing to create remarkable experiences every minute, every hour, every day. If they prefer to look at their phone or chat with another associate, you will not achieve the results you are looking for. Have the courage to make a change. Waiting and hoping is not a strategy and doing so will cost you in the end. (Note: Always partner with your District Manager or Human Resources partner when considering staffing changes.)
Create Remarkable Customer Experiences
There are no shortcuts to creating good customer experiences. You and your team have to be committed and focused on the customer every hour of every day. If you aren’t, you will not maximize the potential sales volume that results from good customer experiences. Most retail stores have a selling model. If your team doesn’t use the model, start there. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. A team who can execute consistently and have fun with the customer will see success. When you make it fun for your team, the customer will notice and want to join in!
Ever heard of Right People, Right Place, Right Time? Staff availability is crucial to the store’s success. Coverage during peak times of the day and week is the #1 requirement. Ensure your super stars are available when you are the busiest. Have enough staff to convert customers during peak traffic periods. You should never have shifts that cannot be filled due to staff shortage or availability issues. Talk to the team if you have shifts that you cannot fill. They might be able to adjust their availability. I have found it is better to explore this before hiring. Why? If you hire more associates and then have staff who cannot get hours, they will quit and it can be a vicious cycle.
Merchandise Cannot Sell From the Backroom
Product must flow from the backroom to the sales floor regularly. If the store is empty and the backroom is packed to the gills, chances are good you aren’t making your sales targets. Clean out the entire back room and push the goods to the floor. This makes filling in the selling floor so much easier. As shipment comes in, the merchandise should be pushed to the floor before it is back stocked. This will prevent touching the goods multiple times. While your brand likely has a merchandise flow process, this approach has proven to win over and over again. As merchandise is hitting the sales floor (that has been sitting in the backroom for a while), scan the ticket and make sure it is marked at the right selling price. Missed markdowns on your selling floor negatively impact the customer experience.
Fill in from the Backroom
Don’t just size the store, although it is nice when merchandise is sized in order. Sales are lost when every size is not represented on the selling floor. Whether it’s denim that comes in 50 or more sizes and colors or panties that come in every cut, color and size – make sure every size and color is represented. It’s amazing how many lost sales there are because sizes don’t get filled back in. And let’s face it, we just don’t have the payroll coverage to keep running to the backroom to check for a size.
Execute Floorset to Standard
The store should be set to the company floorset standard. If it is not, move quickly and reset it; touch the windows, walls and fixtures. Customers purchase more when the store looks good then when its empty, messy or poorly merchandised. The visual teams who build the floorset documents are normally pretty skilled and have a great eye, don’t reinvent it, follow it! A well merchandised store helps customers find what they like and this will likely lead to a purchase. You might be really good at putting outfits together, but there are a lot of customers who rely on great displays to help them know what goes together. Remember, make your store work for you!
A Dirty Store Can Kill Your Business
Clean the fitting rooms, cash wrap and sales floor top to bottom and put a plan together on how to maintain it. No one wants to undress in a dirty fitting room. If you haven’t gone into one of your fitting rooms yet, go back there and try something on. It is a great way to view it through the eyes of your customers. And if you can get a customer to the fitting room and make it a good experience, chances improve by over 50% that they will make a purchase. Stand on the customer side of the cashwrap. What does the customer see? Piles of returns, overflowing hangers and trash cans that need dumped all tell the customer one thing – this store is not well run.
Establish Role Clarity
Put clear roles and responsibilities in place for each manager and hold them accountable to their performance. All managers on the team should have responsibility for achieving the store sales results. Each manager should also own an operational component to the store. For example, a manager who has strong visual skills can own ensuring planning and executing the floor sets, that the store always looks crisp, and the visual displays are compelling (& steamed!). A manager who has some OCD characteristics (like I do!) could oversee the backroom ensuring the goods stay flowing to the selling floor, markdowns get completed and the space is organized. You get the point, each component of the store requires oversight. So much time is wasted when managers are unclear on what they are accountable for. A great way to measure role clarity is to ask them to write down what their role is and at the same time you write it down. Now see how close you two are. There is no time like the present to ensure every manager is clear on their roles!
Run the Cashwrap Quickly and Efficiently
Customers do not want to wait in a long line. The team should have urgency to ring up customers and make this last touch point a happy one. Every associate on the team should be cross trained to ring. Whether your plan is to use them as a cashier or not, I promise you there will be a day when you need them to ring and will be glad you trained them.
Utility Players are the Name of the Game
A utility player is someone who knows how to do just about everything in the store. Part time associates may have a strength in one area or another, but they should still know the basics of all the different positions, just in case. This is priceless and enables you to create consistent customer experiences, even when you have scheduled staff miss their shift – because we all know, it just happens in retail.
Whew, that is a lot of information. It might make sense to read through this one more time and capture actions that make sense for your store! While these ten actions are pretty common sense, want to know what happened every time I used them? The store experienced incredible results. And that meant: Customers were happy. Associates were happy. My boss was happy. I was happy.
Walk through your store using the lens of these ten actions.
What can you apply to your store? Which ones have you already mastered? With holiday approaching, now is the time to get the store in order.
I would love to hear what you learn and the successes you achieve! And if you are stuck on something, email me about it. (Rachel@Runninggreatstores.com) I am happy to help!
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I am rooting for you,
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