How Fostering a Coaching Culture Improves Retail Store Execution
The pandemic has made retailing increasingly challenging over the past few months, with massive fluctuations in customer traffic and a sudden shift in the types of activities being carried out by associates. This unpredictable set of circumstances requires greater in-store coordination and flawless execution of corporate strategy at the store. Otherwise, critical tasks go unfulfilled and the customer experience suffers.
One way to approach this set of problems is to adopt the mindset of a coach. All top sports teams are competitive and agile, with coaches that provide players with the strategies and tools to succeed while planning for the unexpected.
Likewise, retail success requires top-notch, professional-quality teamwork. Fostering a coaching culture often comes down to using the right tools that empower a collaborative environment by streamlining communication and simplifying how associates complete work in stores.
Here are three ways that fostering a coaching culture in your stores can improve communication and in-store execution:
1. Enabling Consistent Execution and Performance
In any successful team, the coach provides direction and strategy. When all players execute on the plays they’ve practiced, the team becomes a single entity, capable of both impenetrable defense and indomitable offense.
In retail, even the best laid strategy will underperform or fail because of inconsistent in-store execution. Such shortcomings occur for a variety of reasons: for instance, public health crises and other major disruptions make it difficult to efficiently communicate between corporate, field, and stores. Even during normal times, headquarters typically sends a flurry of emails to stores, stealing away store managers’ time, preventing them from coaching their teams and working with customers.
Without clear direction or proper prioritization, key tasks — such as refilling sanitizer stations in the store or placing safety signage around the store— may go unexecuted. Or the staff, relying on unclear or incomplete plans, perform their tasks inconsistently, executing dozens of disparate versions of the corporate vision, leading to a fragmented brand experience for the customer.
2. Spending Time Coaching Associates and Engaging with Customers
Nothing interrupts top coaches when they’re doing their jobs, leading and giving players direction, with clear communication on performance expectations.
Similarly, retail store managers must be on the floor as much as possible to work with staff and cater to customers. However, there are frequent obstacles to in-store productivity that keep managers away from the floor and stuck in the back office.
Real-time task management systems can beat these obstacles by streamlining communications and ensuring closed-loop task management. These systems allow store managers to recoup the 7-10 hours a week typically spent dealing with email, voicemail, and 3-ring binders. With a simple-to-use task management system in place, corporate and field have real-time visibility in to task-completion status of all initiatives across stores and can easily manage by exception. This allows store managers to spend time coaching employees and serving customers, driving increased sales at stores.
3. Acting in Real-Time
Often, coaches need to course-correct on the fly. If something goes wrong, they have to be able to substitute players, change formation, or call a timeout — anything needed to win.
In retail, once the store opens, things move fast with a majority of buying decisions made after the customer walks into the store. When corporate has no process to account for store workload, prioritize in-store activities, or manage by exception, it will struggle to respond to challenges in the field. These inefficiencies can delay the execution of key projects, such as implementation of new safety initiatives, merchandise promotions, or product recalls. Failure in these projects can be serious. Delayed recalls risk the sale of potentially harmful products to customers, which can severely damage brand reputation.
Real-time task management solutions can help retailers effectively carry out key projects across the organization. Let’s take the example of product recalls. With real-time task management, when a retailer issues a recall notification, the task shows up at the top of the store manager’s task interface with a warning message and can be acted upon nationwide in a matter of a few hours. Corporate and field can ensure compliance across all stores without having to send out a single email or make even one phone call. Task management software can also be linked to the POS device to ensure that recalled items cannot be sold. This ensures that compliance is adhered to in the shortest possible time and that customers are kept safe.
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