Friday, March 12, 2010

Who is managing the store!

Over the past few weeks or rather months I have been noticing a dangerous trend in the supermarket chains I tend to go to. Barring one as an exception the store manager/ in-charge seems to be missing in action.

Either he or she is nowhere in the store and my guess is that in most instances they have been called for some meeting at the office. Such a meeting would debate at length on why sales are dropping and what can be done to increase the same.

In a few cases the manager emerged from the store back office in response to a request by some cashier to unblock the billing machine. This is a safety or rather security need wherein in certain cases like changing the prices of products, an authorization code is required for the cashier to continue billing.

After unblocking the machine the manager glares at the cashier and customers alike and retreats into his office again, to do God knows what. If I were to be charitable I would presume that he is compiling piles of reports that someone in the office has asked for, which will all finally end up as a bullet point on a presentation.

Why is this dangerous? Simply because others will follow as they are being led.

I have often stated how the staff are the face of the Retailer and they define the interactions which make or break shopper loyalty and hence the viability of the store. If the staff see their store in-charge being more internally focused in terms of primarily pleasing their bosses, having none or very little time for customers, wont they emulate the same?

There is a ritual called store walk which ensures that the store in-charge takes stock of things literally and figuratively. If not done, it is a guarantee that the store will go down the drain in terms of hygiene, display, etc.

Lastly, the staff are on their feet almost through the eight hour shift. Being on the floor with them, guiding them and motivating them is the best form of leadership and is guaranteed to have positive results.

Instead of this routine, which is core to Retailing I hardly see the store in charge interacting with either customers or the staff.

Maybe the change should start with the bosses. They need to leave the conference rooms and be at the store more often. While at the store, have stand up meetings if required.

However, the best bet would be to talk with the staff and customers and they will get millions of ideas to improve sales. More importantly, such ideas will work!


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