“Headaches of a Store Manager…No2”
Why can’t head office communicate to stores in one coordinated way?
An inbox audit of any store manager’s email system will reveal instantly how well, or not, communication to stores is organised, channelled, filtered and prioritised.
Common headaches apart from sheer volume of messages are repeated messages from different head office functions, or even the same function and person, to direct contradictions in instructions and apparently competing priorities for time and attention.
Time is precious and definitely finite when it comes to staff roles , tasks and schedules and so prioritisation is essential – prioritisation defined by head office and agreed across the business, to guide, support and protect decisions and actions made in store as being correct and in line with business priorities.
Store teams blamed for inaction with no defined rules on priorities are often at the mercy of recrimination from different head office functions.
The streamlining of messages through a single interface not only acts as a funnel for the stores but can also incorporate automatic prioritisation, filters for duplication and screening of excessive demands, revealing the realities of everyday conflicts. Such systems can also record the completion of actions in real time with confirmations and visual proof sent via the system back to head office.
What in effect we have is an automated real time store log of demands and responses as an aid to efficiency, a support of vindication for stores and an accurate record for the control of head office store communication.
Scheduling functions can also filter and distribute messages to agreed times of the day and days of the week for different head office functions. Quiet times of the day can allow messages on spontaneous actions to be delivered whilst messages can be blocked for queuing during busy traffic periods. Days can be designated for specific tasks such as “Remerchandising Mondays” or “Training Tuesdays” freeing up communications for relevant HO functions during that day, channelling the correct messages to the correct people.
In essence one communication system becomes the stores PA, the defender of the diary, the obstacle to interference, the manager of expectation and the distributor of defined priorities and schedules.
A store team safe in the knowledge that their actions are agreed is a confident workforce. A store team free from irrelevant distractions is an effective and efficient workforce.
Who wouldn’t want a confident, effective and efficient workforce, whatever head office function you belong to?
Discipline needs to be instilled into the process and built into the physical system from both ends of the store operations action chain.
Are you being unrealistic in what you ask stores to do?
Is a barrage of head office inefficiencies creating an inertia of uncertainty inside store teams?
VM-unleashed works with retailers and brands to bring sense and priorities to the communication of head office functions with stores, planning schedules and regimes for both the initiators and the implementers.
Firstly its important to understand how big a problem this might be for your business, why it it is happening and what other operations issues are compounding the problem.
VM-unleashed! has developed a store audit for this purpose…
The “What on earth is happening in my stores audit?!”
For more information follow this link… The “What on earth is happening in my stores?!” Audits
This post is part of an ongoing series that will explore the vast array of store operational functions essential to commercial retail success, the importance of knowing how they are working for you, and the repercussions if they don’t.
For further questions and costs on retail operations audits then please feel free to contact us….
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I appreciate your thoughts on the challenges for retail businesses today, and their inability to communicate effectively, providing what’s needed to be prepared for their customers and keep their locations accomplishing what’s required of them.
We’ve used Intranet Portals with varying degrees of acceptance, and strengthened our communications by introducing KPIs, and Leadership Tools making the stores and their associates more productive, and successful in their work. We’ve gone as far as to mandate “NO” emails are to be sent to multiple locations, without the approval of senior executives.
I’ve found that effective communications that are focused on what’s important, and that reinforces the tasks being requested by the field and the support that is to be provided by corporate, is critical.
Thanks again for sharing…
Absolutely, as with many areas of retail less is more, so streamlining messages and changing the focus from the quantity of the messages to the quality and benefit of them is essential. Easier said than done of course, with often the email messenger taking the flack when its the instigator at fault.
Wish you continued success in this challenging but essential are.