In our last Retail Reflections session together, we explored the perspective of The Customer and the importance of defining your customer journey to expand your retail sales. Today, we take a look at the crucial role of The Manager in building a successful retail culture.
First, let me remind you of the 6 elements that make a successful retail sales environment:
- The Customer
- The Manager
- The Staff Member
- Your Reception
- Your Marketing
- Your Merchandising
The mindset of your manager(s) is the key to creating an easily accepted retail culture. If your manager is passionate about retail, everyone else will be. If the manager is focused on the minutiae of your business’s day to day administration, the focus on active selling – bringing in revenue – will be an afterthought.
I see many shop owners quickly resign themselves to accepting the sales as they are because creating change appears to be an uphill battle. However, in doing this, an owner can unknowingly create a ‘passive work’ atmosphere and allow teams to focus on tasks that don’t actively contribute your most desired goals.
Having done hundreds of boutique and spa trainings throughout the world I am confident in a fact I’ll share with you now. A foundation for a healthy, thriving retail culture is cemented by your managers.
Unfortunately, managers can be faced with many obstacles when it comes to fulfilling his / her role in nurturing your retail culture:
- Dealing with HR issues: this spans from staff recruitment to covering last-minute co-worker ‘sick days’. Let’s also not forget their management of a difficult team member. This person is a character that in my trainings I like to call “Flossy”. Let’s face it, we’ve all had to deal with a Flossy at some point (or you may be in the middle of handling Flossy right now!). Unchecked, HR can make up 70% of manager activity. These activities are not only time-consuming – they can be taxing on the morale of even the most competent managers.
- The pressure of delivering the numbers: “You are only as good as your last month’s figures” my boss used to tell me… Talk about pressure! Messaging like this creates overwhelm and encourages an environment of individual achievement (‘everyone for themselves’) rather than an environment that rewards reaching goals as a collective unit.
- The weakest team: There is no such thing as “the wrong” or “weakest team.” This is a common mental block managers can bring along with them. I have met managers who have stepped into inherited teams and find it a challenge to get everyone to subscribe to their specific way of selling. If allowed to contribute to sales targets in ways that fit their individual personalities, any underperforming team member can be turned around to become an asset.
- Getting a pat on the back: In their role, managers can be exposed to much problem-solving. From HR to difficult customers to operations, it is sometimes hard for managers to see glory in their role. This can take its toll in the long run and the passion they once had for building a thriving business WITH YOU can progressively fade away.
Let’s change this for your business and start creating a retail culture of employees that LOVE to make you proud in reaching sales targets and goals. It can be done! And here’s how. To maintain passion and a strong mindset, these are the 5 essential areas of focus for managers:
A Clear & Communicated Mission:
A shared mission must be communicated to every employee. A team will rally behind leaders who they feel are including them in a shared journey. I am often surprised how little teams are included in these conversations by owners and managers who tend to be crystal clear on the targets of the business. Active communication is crucial to team focus. The clearer your mission, the clearer the collective action steps, the more your team will follow. What do you want to achieve by the end of the year? Win an award? Achieve 10% over target? Have over 2000 business reviews? Whatever it is, true leadership lays out a roadmap to follow. If you don’t know what you want for your business over the next 5 years then I encourage you to start dreaming and sharing your vision for the future.
Task management makes a significant impact when it comes to building your retail culture. I often see managers in back offices working primarily on operational tasks leaving them with no time to ‘lead by example’ on the shop floor. That creates a break in the chainlink of your teams shared mission. It’s important as the owner of the business to encourage managers to prioritize the tasks that will move the revenue needle for your business.
This in itself can fill up an article! However, the main thing is that too much stock is both a confidence and cash burden on the business. On the other hand, not enough stock keeps you from reaching your sales targets. Finding just the right inventory levels for the business is important.
Retail Strategy Development:
Are all elements of the business aligned with its retail goals and aspirations? This includes your branding, marketing, networking, event management, merchandising, systems, procedures, communication plan, target setting, new product or service launches, etc. It’s essential to check all of these things and ensure they are supporting, not hindering, your team’s sales efforts. If there are things to be improved upon, managers should feel comfortable in sharing these findings with the business owner.
The most important aspect of your retail culture is to encourage, coach and nurture your team. The active development of each staff member makes the team engaged. Create and share clear plans of action that play to each individual staffer’s strengths and personality in order to achieve the collective goals of the business. This can allow a business to function whether an owner is physically present or not. Having a team that is fully behind you is what will make you overachieve your targets. This also gives both the manager and the owner the permission of the group to proactively address any cases of low achievement with minimal, if any, conflict. How great would that feel?
I strongly believe that creating a retail culture one can be proud of takes mindfulness and strategy. By following the above steps, which is a part of my Retail 360° blueprint, you will be able to create a thorough plan of action that will grow your retail sales, nurture your team and maintain a positive mindset.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series: Motivating Your Team When It Comes To Retail Selling. We’ll be taking a look at The Staff Member and what important aspects they contribute to retail sales, Flossy and all…
Until then, love retail and retail will love you back!
Valerie Delforge is the founder and CEO of Delforge Management Consulting LTD whom is dedicated to setting up spas and retail boutiques for ultimate success through expert bespoke programmes and accessible online workshops. Learn more about Delforge Management Consulting here: https://valeriedelforge.com/