Have you ever been on the hunt for an apartment, house, or office building that initially looked great, but then you started to notice some negative details? Maybe it’s a crack in the wall, a stain in the carpet, or some lights that are out. While the building structure is still sound, these flaws begin to elude towards a larger structural weakness. On the other hand, a clean building that has all LED lights, granite counter tops, and new hard wood flooring would only further enhance your positive first impression. The same situation can happen in any retail environment, whether you are selling groceries, clothing, pizza, gas, or tires.
I previously had a conversation with a franchise retail operations director who stressed the importance of clean bathrooms. His point was that nobody ever comments on how clean the bathrooms are, but you may get hear customer complaints when they are messy. So if companies focus on always having clean bathrooms, they take away one potential negative influence.
However, my point isn’t that your bathrooms need to be cleaned more often. Instead, think about what little details your stores are missing. What little opportunities for improvement are going unnoticed? For example:
- Could you add some color or dimensionality to a merchandising display to make it more eye-catching?
- Are the slow movers in a store kept to minimal inventory or are they over-stocked (taking up valuable shelf space and potentially production time)?
- Have the garbage bins in the store and outside recently been emptied?
- Have the tables and chairs been de-gummed?
- Has the buffet line/hot bar food been turned lately?
While I just listed out a few things to look for, there really is no place for a checklist when it comes to paying attention to little details. Instead, keep an open mind and look at your store through a customer’s eyes.
Two great ways to ensure a fresh set of eyes that can catch these details are cross-departmental checks and store audits. Since the person completing a cross-departmental check is not familiar that department, her perception is broader in terms of what proper performance truly means. Store audits performed by field or corporate staff also provide an opportunity for a fresh set of eyes as long as you are willing at some point to put down the checklist and simply look around.
Regardless of what strategy you implement, the results will always be positive. The little issues can quickly be turned into little wins. New ideas turn little wins into huge wins. And sometimes it turns out a little issue is the result of a larger issue that you will be glad you caught early.
For more info on how to “pull the strings” on little issues to find larger root issues, check out Unraveling the True Problem for Your Associates.