There have always been debate in the retail industry as to who/what is the most important element in a retail store. Some would say it’s the stock which is of utmost importance hence the most important position for a store is the merchandiser. Some might say how can we forget the sales executives who are the front line of interaction with the customers.
Some may say without proper ambience nobody would come inside the store to buy, due to which the Visual Merchandiser takes the most important position. After years of consulting and training in the retail industry, I have come to know that the most important person in the store is the Store Manager.
Each brand needs to understand that your store will be always, only as good, as your store manager. We need to invest heavily on creating a culture of thoughtful store managers rather than just some robotic professional who follows processes in the store.
Due to the hectic schedule in a store the manager seldom gets any time for thinking and strategising. Most of the times they are busy with fire fighting in trouble situations. Due to years of following the same schedule and processes the managers ultimately are completely sapped out of their creative energies and become irrelevant to the organisation.
How to take your Store CEO and your store to the next level?
1. Get Your Clone- Yeah, you heard it right. Get Your clone. Your professional clone, a guy who can handle all the admin and reports related activities in the store. He will be like the PM in the store. This will take a very big burden from your store managers head and he will be left with ample time to think and strategise.
Be careful not to create too much hierarchy in the store though. The store manager should be always approachable and available for his staff. The store assistant manager is just there to make sure the day to day operations go smoothly.
2. Invest heavily on training & learning- Yes, the fear will always be there what if he leaves? But we need to invest in training on the store manager as he is the key to the environment in the store.
Imagine you don’t train your store manager and he stays. The damage that will happen to your brand value is immeasurable. But by training regularly you will create a culture in your organisation which will nurture natural leaders and three will never be any dearth of a good store manager for your stores.
3. Be in the Look Out for good talent- Successful store needs good teams. Be aware about your stores employee structure. Keep looking for the best hidden talent in your market visits. Try to build robust teams for each of your stores. Let the store manager be aware about this and nurture each of his team member. Remind him it’s the team captain who is the most important link for a teams win. Make your managers aware about team management and building strong passionate teams. Reward the manager under whom more new store managers gets nurtured and created.
4. Local Data Analytics- Your store manager is a treasure trove of local data which is worth millions. Have at least 1 monthly face to face meeting with each of your store manager, taking stock of the challenges and opportunities faced by them during the month. Use these meetings to get pulse of the local market consumption and competition analysis. Make your managers aware about the extensive information available in front of their eyes. Make them see the big pictures in every frame.
5. The Store CEO – Make your managers take initiative and share best practices. Keep a matrix to see the number of interactions done by your managers with the HO at different levels. A manager who is not giving any feedback to the HO is missing something for sure. Promote sharing of best practices amongst the managers. Let them know that they are the most important link in the command chain.
Finally, the success of a store/brand finally depends on how good or bad The Store CEO is.
Author – Dev Borah
CoFounder – Retail View
P.S – Some images have been taken from the internet.