A retail executive once told me that if the company he worked for could only do the things they said they were going to do, they would be light years ahead of the competition. The challenge though, is actually getting each new initiative started and supporting it in the right ways so that it can become successful and show measurable results. The reality is that retail is busy. Juggling the existing pieces of a business is hard enough without adding another one to the mix.
When it comes down to it, the main reason we hear about new initiatives failing is a lack of communication. This includes communication from corporate to stores as well as from the stores back to corporate. What we also noticed was that the breakdown in communication tends to happen at four main points: not delivering a clear plan to stores, not getting store employee buy-in, not tracking performance data and holding stores accountable, and not listening to store feedback in order to improve the initiative. Below are our tips to improve at each of these breaking points and be more successful with new initiatives moving forward.
Creating A Detailed Playbook
Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Applying that quote to retail instead of sports, the less details you put into a plan, the higher the chance store performance won’t meet your expectations. Make sure to add all the necessary details into your game plan to stores. Some great ways to get measurable results are to break the overall job down into steps and include pictures where possible. For larger initiatives, consider spending time in person, over web chat, or on the phone with key store personnel to talk through the plan and answer any questions. That up front investment of time will pay of quickly as less follow up will be needed.
Gaining Store Personnel Buy In
As a store employee, sometimes it is hard to see the value in the work you are asked to do. The more time you take to educate your store teams on the potential value and overall business impact of a new initiative, the more they are able to see the value in the work they are being asked to do. Instead of completing tedious work, they can now be proud of their work and the impact they will have.
Tracking Performance Data & Holding Stores Accountable
We have said it before in our blog, and I’ll say it again here: you can only improve what you can measure. If you do not take the time to check on store performance of new initiatives and then track that data over time, you have no ability to see if performance is improving or compare individual store performance to other stores in the company. This becomes even more critical when numerous individuals are responsible for checking on performance. If you build an effective process to share this data amongst your management team, you can collaborate together to drive improvement and hold stores more accountable.
Paying Attention to Feedback From Stores
One of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” When execution of a new initiative does not go according to plan, the first people to know why are your store team members. Since they are the “boots on the ground” so to speak, they see first hand where the breakdowns in execution are coming from. Take the time to listen to their feedback. Chances are, they can help you identify any problems much more quickly and even help you resolve them.