What are best practices for managing a retail business? Retail management is both rewarding and complicated, but devastating issues can lurk around every corner. Check out our tips for success and avoid the pitfalls that can end your career.
Retail management is a competitive field, and while many retail managers don't hold a degree in business or management, they're still expected to handle some pretty tough situations. Before you can learn how to manage retail businesses effectively, you first need to understand the biggest challenges for retail managers.
This one seems pretty obvious, but a large portion of retail managers do not understand this basic and imperative skill. It is more than deciding what you are going to do each day and more than assigning tasks to your employees and leaving them to their own devices. Managing your time effectively is one of the top keys of successful retail management.
Businesses, no matter the industry, must grow, change, and evolve. Stagnation results in failure. Thankfully, stagnation is easily avoided if you have the skills and knowledge to effectively manage changes. That includes changes to the customer base, the workers you supervise, and even the very structure of the business itself. Times change, and so should your management strategies.
This goes beyond simply just hiring and basic training. You need a solid plan in place to evaluate and then train top-class staff, and a way to manage their daily activities and productivity. Without a system in place to streamline this process, your management position will be time-consuming and frustrating.
Time is finite—there are only so many hours in a day, and only so many tasks you can do in those hours. Planning and strategizing early on is key to successful time management for retail managers. This means you will need to sit down and look at the entire business, what's expected of you in your position, and also imagine any possible hurdles that might get in your way down the line. It seems overwhelming at first, but taking this process one step at a time will help ease your stress and get your plan in place faster.
Avoid the in-the-moment scramble by mapping out the company's existing structure, how each aspect runs, and what your place in the system is. By mapping this out, writing it down, and examining the business as a whole, you'll be able to quickly identify places that are running less efficiently than they should, where interruptions most often occur, and problem areas that need to be addressed immediately as well as those that can wait. An excellent way to keep track of all this information is with time management software and productivity apps.
We've put together a great article on productivity apps right here.
Nobody can predict the future, but by examining past trends and keeping an eye on developing trends, you can often predict shifts in the retail market. By anticipating change, acknowledging that it is inevitable, and imaging what the future might bring, you're helping your business become future-proof. For example, if whole, natural foods are popular in your area now, think of ways to improve on this trend by offering new products or great services around that topic. That can be creating new desserts or offering fun promotions to keep customers coming in. And if something you try happens to fail, don't completely discount it. Put it on the back burner and watch the trends—sometime in the future your idea may catch on and become the next big thing.
Get creative here, trying new things, and tracking the successes and failures. Over time, you'll begin to see a pattern in consumer spending and attention, and your next adventures in creativity and predicting future change will be more accurate. Keep track of everything digitally so it can be accessed at any time on any device. This will help you manage more efficiently by allowing you access to all your data no matter where you are. Productivity apps are an excellent choice for this stage if they have a place for notes and allow you to download or print audit trails.
Your success in retail management will rely heavily on the quality and productivity of your employees. You need to select your staff carefully and then put effort into providing them the best training possible. When your employees understand excellent customer service techniques, and they can handle small emergencies as they crop up, you'll save time and money while improving both your reputation and the business'.
Training doesn't stop after the first session. By creating and providing access to extensive training resources, you'll be setting your staff up for excellence and lightening your load. While old-school binders and printed manuals were useful twenty years ago, in the modern age using digital training manuals and files is the way to go. It saves time, money, and effort, and you don't need to worry about losing or having to replace old and worn paper documents. The same can be said for daily staff checklists and task management. Keep it digital, and you can even track staff productivity over time to help identify slow spots and issues. A bonus to using digital staff training and task management is that it's easy and inexpensive to update. A few clicks, taps, or swipes and you've updated the files for everyone.
Paper training manuals, business plans, and task management was the way to go a few decades ago. It did its job admirably, but the flaws in that system were obvious. Aside from the expense of paper and the cost of storing and shredding old files, there was also the environmental impact. Paper checklists and logbooks were clunky and time-consuming to comb through, and if one went missing, it could spell disaster for the entire business.
By using modern digital productivity software and task management apps, you will be lessening your business' environmental impact, increasing productivity, and saving a lot of money by dumping old-school paper products.
For more information on using software to increase productivity, check out this article.