WHETHER YOU’RE RUNNING A BUSINESS OF FIVE EMPLOYEES OR 50, YOUR RETAIL SHOP REQUIRES A SOUND STRUCTURE. HERE’S WHY.
What would improved customer satisfaction, higher staff engagement and productivity, and increased profitability mean for your retail store? Did you know that you can achieve all three provided you focus on one key element of your business? It’s called organisational structure. Retail guru and author of The Retail Sales Bible Matt Hudson explains below:
“If you're just starting out building a retail business, you may need to take a good look at who's doing what to keep things from descending into chaos. Even if you only have a small staff, everyone should be tasked with specific duties, so that things don't fall through the cracks.”
Your organisational structure may vary from that of a larger retail store, but even if you have a smaller number of employees, each one needs to be familiar with their individual roles to prevent confusion and ensure operations run smoothly.
You may be wondering how this can be achieved simply: Hudson, who has more than 26 years’ experience in retail, suggests using an organisational chart. This chart should outline all tasks involved in running the store and who should be handling which aspect of the business.
“An organisational chart is also important for accountability, so everyone knows who their direct boss is,” Hudson says. “The clearer everyone is about what is expected of them, the smoother things will run.”
As the owner of a small and successful retail business, you need to be aware of the impact your organisational structure has on your venture’s success – but how do you define a ‘good’ structure?
DOING EVERYTHING HERSELF KEPT THIS RETAILER UP AT NIGHT
Micromanaging every aspect of her business’s operations meant, like most independent retail store owners, Julie Boston was doing everything herself. As the new store manager for Pier 1 Imports, Boston says details like visual displays in the store kept her up at night.
She worked long hours and rarely asked assistant managers for their input on the decisions she felt compelled to make on her own. By doing so, Boston was weakening the organisational structure of the business.
Boston realised the store employees where feeling dis-empowered and, consequently, lacked confidence. “I learned that people want responsibility, and they want to be challenged,” she says. “They don't want to come in every day and think, ‘All I’m going to do today is unload carts.’”
She loosened the reins, making provision for creativity, especially in management. “An associate may not make the same decision you, as the store manager, would have made, but that doesn't mean it's a wrong decision,” she realised. “You have to be OK with the fact that things are never going to be perfect.”
HOW TO BUILD A STRUCTURED RETAIL TEAM
- START AN ORGANISATIONAL CHART TO INTRODUCE SOME STRUCTURE
What is your vision for your business? How do your employees fit into this vision? Do you know each employee’s strengths? Every team member brings value to the workforce and identifying these abilities enables you to capitalise on your employees’ talents and align them to the various functions within your business.
“As the store grows and the retail business evolves, the dynamics of the organisation’s structure will change too,” says Hudson. “It is paramount, then, to redesign the store’s organisational chart to support the decision-making, collaboration and leadership capabilities that are essential during and after a growth period.”
- RECOGNISE (AND FIX) ISSUES EARLY ON USING YOUR ORGANISATIONAL CHART
As you refine your structure, you’ll be able to more clearly identify problems in your chart and how to resolve them. The best way is to keep your channels of communication open and take an interest in how your team is working – as individuals and collectively.
“If people don't know they’re doing anything wrong, they’re not going to change,” Boston says. “I’ve seen managers who have let situations with certain associates go on for such a long time without addressing them, that it’s really impossible to correct the problem when a new manager comes in to try to work with that person or fix the issue.”
- CULTIVATE GOOD MANAGEMENT SKILLS BASED ON YOUR ORGANISATIONAL CHART
“It’s vital to keep the line from the owner to the customer as short as possible,” emphasises Hudson. “This is the only way to ensure the customer experience is remarkable.”
Boston believes that clarity in your business’s culture starts from the top down: “Retail managers, particularly new managers, need to explain clearly their vision and their expectations for the store," she says. “Initially, you need to tell the associates about yourself, about your customer-service values and what kind of customer service you expect.”
Attention to the customer experience is the most important aspect of business success. Each employee in your business should focus on putting the customer first, because satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat clients.
Once you have the correct organisational structure in place, your focus should be on maximising your sales. An effective method for achieving that is implementing a customer loyalty programme.
Based on research conducted by Sureswipe, retailers can increase their customers’ basket spend by up to 24% within 12 months of introducing a loyalty programme.
Experts agree that the benefits of a customer loyalty programme are numerous, but also advise that your employees are well-trained if you want your programme to become a successful sales tool.
HOW TO TRAIN STAFF ON YOUR LOYALTY PROGRAMME IN 4 EASY STEPS
A successful programme requires regular customer involvement. Knowledgeable staff can effectively promote your loyalty programme and introduce new members.
Sureswipe’s Loyalty Success Specialist Brad Reilander offers four tips for training staff successfully:
- Ensure each employee is familiar with all the details of how your loyalty programme works. While the benefits and discounts you offer to members of the programme are important, it’s also crucial to have fully-trained staff. These workers should be available to answer any questions or introduce customers to the programme’s points and rewards system.
- You may not have the budget that big brands do, but you can still learn from them and apply their tactics to your small retail business. Introduce your loyalty programme to every single customer by requesting that cashiers ask customers for their loyalty card. Make the sign-up process simple for customers who aren’t yet members and would like to join the programme.
- Increase staff involvement in the loyalty programme by encouraging every employee to participate. When your staff are members, they understand better how the programme works based on their own experience. Promoting staff participation also enables your cashiers to adequately respond to customer questions about the benefits of joining your programme.
- Use powerful communication tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to help drive interest and new member sign-ups. Proactively marketing your loyalty programme through social media enables your business to deliver strong messaging to your customers with special loyalty offers that drive revenue.
WANT TO FURTHER ENHANCE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND DRIVE LOYALTY?
Talk to Sureswipe about a cost-effective loyalty programme. We can help you retain customers and provide the platform to communicate directly with them through email and SMS. Call 0860 200 111 or fill in your details here and we’ll call you in the next hour.