Retail Winners Manual.

If someone said, “can I see your Retail Winners Manual”, would you know what they were talking about? I recently attended a leadership conference and learned about a “football winners manual”. If you love football, namely, Ohio State University football, you know what this is. And yet as a Buckeye, I hadn’t heard the term before. The OSU football winners manual is a Jim Tressel thing. He wrote a book called The Winners Manual. This book includes his “Big 10” fundamentals for success along with stories and quotes.

What are those big 10? Attitude, Discipline, Faith, Handling Adversity & Success, Excellence, Love, Toughness, Responsibility, Team and Hope. This book is full of personal stories from Jim Tressel’s career.

Do you have a Retail Winner’s Manual?

As I was listening to this notion of a winners manual, I wondered why I didn’t have one. Then I realized, YES I DO! As you all know, I am in retail so my winners manual is really focused on how to win at retail. I have 11 proven fundamentals for winning as a retail leader. Whether you are a regional manager, district manager, store manager or an associate working towards one of these roles, this Retail Winner’s Manual will help.

11 Fundamentals for Winning at Retail.

My belief is that if you can master these fundamentals, you will win at retail. Here is the quick list, and then below, there is more detail for each.

  1. It is ALWAYS about hiring the best talent.
  2. Establish Role Clarity.
  3. Right People, Right Place, Right Time.
  4. Make Your Customers Feel Cherished.
  5. Keep the Sales Floor Full & Abundant.
  6. Maintain Good Store Standards.
  7. Execute Visual Merchandising To Our Brand Standard.
  8. Keep the Store Clean.
  9. Create a Friendly and Efficient Check Out Process.
  10. Cross-Train the Team.
  11. Look for Opportunities to Recognize Performance.

1. Hire the Best Talent.

Hiring the best talent for your store (or district, or region) is the main responsibility of the Store Manager (District Manager, Regional Manager).  Get that right and everything else will follow. I could stop here, that is how important hiring the best talent is but for fun, lets keep going. The rest ensure your top talent has the keys to the kingdom.

2. Establish Role Clarity & Goal Clarity.

Each team member should be clear on their roles and responsibilities. Often times we hire off a job description which lacks the necessary detail that clarifies the role and what success looks like. Role clarity provides those details. Having role clarity is one thing, but holding the team accountable for their performance is the most important thing. Once roles and responsibilities are clear, next is to ensure there is goal clarity too. Goal clarity is knowing what the goals are and how to achieve them.

3. Right People, Right Place, Right Time.

This one might be inscribed on my grave stone some day(JK, i hope not!) but people who know me know how critical I believe this is. It is so important to have superb people on the team, but if they don’t have availability to work when the store is busy, what’s the point? If the best trained folks are available on peak days, that’s a game changer! The sales associates must be available when the store is busiest  in order to convert traffic and achieve sales results.

4. Make Your Customers Feel Cherished.

There are no shortcuts for good customer experiences.  When a customer feels cherished shopping in your store, you have created a fan for life. To make this happen, the team has to be committed and focused on every customer, every day. If they are not, it results in lost sales and potentially lost customers. A team who executes consistently and has fun with the customer will see success.

5. Keep the Sales Floor Full & Abundant.

Keeping the sales floor full and abundant makes the store compelling to customers and maximizes your ability to drive conversion. We often don’t have a 1 to 1 ratio of sales associate to customers. Having product on the floor, sized and neat helps customers find what they need!

If the store is empty and the backroom is full, chances are good you won’t make your sales goals. Why?  Because the product cannot sell from the backroom.

6. Maintain Good Store Standards.

Good store standards include keeping the store sized, organized and well merchandised. Sales are lost when sizes are missing. Leaving the sales floor to check the backroom is both a waste of time and can leave customers unattended or the sales floor vulnerable to theft.

7. Execute Visual Merchandising To Your Brand Standard.

The store should be set to your brand standard.  Customers purchase more from a store that is well merchandised versus one that is sloppy, empty or poorly merchandised. A well merchandised store helps customer find what they like and will likely lead to a purchase. Often times floorsets are done monthly and if an item has sold out, the store has to be re-merchandised.

8. Keep the Store Clean.

Customers have high expectations of store cleanliness, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. From the front windows to fitting rooms to the cash wrap to the back of the store, the store should be spotlessly clean. Walk into your store’s fitting rooms. Look around. Would YOU get undressed in there?

9. Create a Friendly & Efficient Check Out Process.

Customers do not want to wait in a long line. The team should have the energy to assist and make this last touchpoint a happy one. Every associate should be cross trained to operate the till.

10. Cross Train the Team.

I like to call this creating “utility players”. When everyone on your team can do all the different positions in the store, it becomes less of a challenge when someone calls off. This creates seamless experiences for your customers.

11. Look for Opportunities to Recognize Performance.

Be on the lookout for members of the team doing things right. It is so easy to find people doing things wrong but if you can wipe your lens, you can find people doing things right! A simple comment, “well done making that customer happy! Lets do that again!” You have to be specific to ensure they know what they did that was so good so they can repeat it!

Many managers believe if they recognize team members too often, they will get arrogant and lazy. Not true.

More Than a List.

It takes more than creating a list to win at retail. I have spent 30 years mastering this list and the details behind each. A winning playbook is really filled with fundamentals and great stories of when and how these are brought to life, the impact they have on customers and on the team. Stories about how executing these fundamentals got someone promoted to their dream job.

It’s Your Turn.

I hope you will take this list and try it out and better yet, make it your own! Let me know how it goes. Drop me a line at I answer every email!

In your corner,

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