Relationship Selling in Retail

RELATIONSHIP SELLING

Relationship selling can be defined as a selling process which focuses on long term satisfaction and repeat business maintenance for both parties (seller and buyer).

This selling philosophy is in total contrast with one shot sales blitz and other fast-buck selling tactics.

On-going selling processes are highly dependent upon the salesperson’s knowledge of the customers, their life-styles, their buying practices and the history of their purchases.

Success of relationship selling is contingent upon the ability of the salesperson in nurturing and strengthening the bond between himself and the customer.

Therefore, it becomes vital to recognize from the outset the necessity of managing the relationship with the customers.

Hotels with thousands of customer details in their databases can communicate a returning customer’s preferences to the front desk staff to make sure that the doorperson can greet him/her by name upon arrival, prepare a room to his/her liking and turn the whole experience into a very enjoyable if not an exhilarating one.

When you call for reservations at some restaurants, do not be surprised if they ask you if you would like to have the same menu or the same table as you had during your last visit a few months ago!

Among the buzz-words are “close-to-customer” and “high-touch”.

These words mean that in today’s and tomorrow’s fragmented markets, ultimate forms of personalized customer contact is the strategic direction.

What is the secret or is there really a secret? The answer is no.

These establishments like many others joining the practice, have understood what their function is and they are utilizing the tools to deliver what they have to do in a competitive environment.

They practice relationship selling through meticulous collection of information regarding customer preferences and commitment to use that information.

For companies whose existence and/or prosperity depend on repeat business, acquiring-building-maintaining the relationship with the customer is critical.

How do we develop a relationship with the customer? It has many parallels to developing friendships.

From the first step customer takes into your store, you have the foundation of building the relationship.

There is obviously a common interest in terms of the merchandise you have in the store.

That is the ideal starting point to be used as a base for a long term association if you handle the customer properly according to the fundamentals of sales skills which were discussed previously.

This initial contact has to be utilized to get as much information about the customer as possible.

It is the information you collect about the customer which will give you the leads for further conversations and contacts.

This is why advance planning of customer interfaces is so important. Information gathering should then become a regular part of your selling skill set.

Having collected the information, it is the utilization of it which makes the difference and will create a loyal following for your services and/or products.

Remembering the important days in their lives, sending relevant articles about their hobbies, coming up with suggestions to improve their satisfaction out of the merchandise/service they bought from you long ago…

These are just a few examples for gaining their friendship and patronage for life!

The purpose of relationship selling is more sales, more referrals and repeat customers through knowing the customers as humans-not just as bodies who buy merchandise at your store.

RELATIONSHIP SELLING IS A WIN-WIN SITUATION

The end result of relationship selling is a satisfied customer on one hand and a successful salesperson on the other. They have reached the best outcome.

The best return on investment (ROI) for both parties.

Customer ROI: The customer receives the product s/he needs/wants.

The customer interacts with a salesperson who is honest and knowledgeable, who is listening and interested in the customer’s needs.

The customer leaves the store emotionally, psychologically and financially satisfied.

Salesperson ROI: Apart from having made the sale, salesperson reaps the rewards of a satisfied customer which results in repeat and referral sales and profits.

It is helpful to internalize the following concepts and procedures for maximum effectiveness in relationship selling:

  • Establish routines that assure the right kind of customer contacts. These should be well practiced and must be specific to the situation, responsive to the issue at hand and sensitive to the customer needs. Inquiries and complaints must be handled with a personal touch in a disciplined and/or controlled manner.
  • It is important to be patient throughout the process of relationship building. It takes time and thought to give special attention conducive to nurturing relationships.
  • Develop your own tools and strategy with which you are effective and comfortable and work with them religiously-consistently.
  • Regard the absence of customer complaints as an indication of low level contact with the customer.
  • Try to stay up-to-date with your customers’ future intentions to be able to anticipate, plan and respond.

With the philosophy of relationship selling in mind, analyze the high pressure selling situations and develop your own critique for the conventional wisdom of selling.

When all things are equal, people make the big difference

When all things are equal, people make the big difference.
A brand new season is upon us and, naturally, most retailers want to lift their performance up a notch – probably a very big notch – compared to last year.

How big a jump that’s going to be depends on the overall goals and objectives of the business.

Whatever the number is, reviewing the fundamentals of your retail operation is in order.

At DMSRetail, when it comes to performance, we place the highest degree of importance on people.   It’s worth repeating: When all things are equal, people make the big difference.
We have seen stores out performing other stores that are located in much larger market areas with higher average income levels within the same retail chain.

Therefore our first recommendation is to take a close look at the people oriented aspects of your operation.

Here are some of them:  Click to continue reading…



Requesting your feedback:

We’re curious to know if you believe that brick and mortar retail business will get back to the way we all knew it. In focus group discussions we found that consumers are skeptical.

Many say that retail staff – not necessarily through any fault of their own – became complacent and confused.

During the pandemic, even when you could go into stores very little active selling was going on for fear of being too close or any one of a dozen other reasons. Times were tough, for sure.

We wonder about about what is ahead and if retail will ever return to normal…or to the way it was pre-pandemic and we’d love to hear what you think about that.


Please send us an email to solutions at dmsretail.com and let us know what you think. We’ll publish the results. Thanks!   ⌚Reminder…Down to 36 Hours!    DMSRetail still has 2 new spots available for  consulting clients.

We can accept 2 more until  midnight on Saturday, March 26, 2022.  50% OFF for 6 Months  Limited Time Offer 

We  have only 2 spots left and only until Saturday, March 26, 2022, so contact us with questions (jhill@retailmanagementworkshop.com) or just go ahead and sign up to make sure you get one of the spots for 6 months. (Cancel anytime.)
 
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Only 2 Spots Left – Learn More   For a low monthly fee, you can have confidential access to our Sr. Consultants in the most convenient way. 
The most successful people get ideas, guidance and yes…even instructions from mentors, coaches and experts. 
Now you can too!

Regardless of what kind of problem you are encountering, all of these things have one glaring thing in common…

You could use some help! 

Learn all about the program here Still have questions? Send an email to Josephine Hill – jhill@retailmanagementworkshop.com
 
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How are your stores performing? Have you eliminated unproductive store visits yet?
 
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Read more about the MAXimum Return on Investment Store Visits Course. Click here.   Don’t miss the Retail Math & Analytics Workshop ONLINE...it’s coming up next week:   Tuesday,  March 22 &  Thursday, March 24, 2022
9:00AM-12:00PM EDT (New York) 1 PM London, 5 PM Dubai  3 Hours Each Day ​(Total of 6 Hours) ​LIVE & INTERACTIVE   sign 50% off   Remember…

There are only 2 days left to get the Retail Consulting and Coaching Program for 50% off for 6 months. Offer expires Saturday, March 12, 2022 at midnight. You can cancel anytime.

Retail Product Management Workshop  

Monday, March 21-Wednesday, March 23-Friday, March 25, 2022 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM  (EDT-New York)  1 PM London, 5 PM Dubai
3 Hours Each Day  (Total of 9 Hours) LIVE & INTERACTIVE
BONUS – REGISTER FOR THE WORKSHOP – RECEIVE THE 20 MODULE PROGRAM AT NO EXTRA CHARGE.VALUE of BONUS ALONE IS $400.  
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jhill @ retailmanagementworkshop.com

Other Quick Links for You:   Retail Selling Skills & Customer Service Fundamentals Study Course Store Manager’s Organizer/ Planner

Store Management for Maximum Success Study Course Retail District Manager’s Study Course
Retail Product Management Program Retail Brand & Category Management Study Course Retail Operations Management Study Course   Ultimate Retail Success Collection DMSRetail Partner Business and Affiliate Program Join the Retail Business Academy

TOP TEN CHECKLIST FOR HOLIDAY PERFORMANCE

1)       For evaluation purposes it will be necessary to prepare work schedules that give every associate an opportunity to work during premium shifts and during quiet shifts.

This will ensure accurate comparisons of Sales per Hour between one associate and another.

Obviously, you still need to ensure your top performers are scheduled when you need them, but for those you are unsure of, or for those who are average performers, you need to level the playing field by scheduling this way.

2)       Carefully review each associate’s KPI’s (key performance indicators) for the past couple of months.

Look at past schedules to get an idea of which associates were performing well and which ones were not and see if there is any correlation to the scheduling.

3)       Use the KPI’s of your top performing associate as a benchmark.

Ranking all others compared to this individual will give you a solid place to start.

If you are thinking this might not be fair – resist the temptation to have lower standards than your top performers.

4)       Be relentless in your follow up after every shift/ day.

Check all KPI’s for each associate.

Make notes on your sales reports so you can recall your thoughts and conclusions when it comes time to speak with the associate.

5)       Discuss performance at the beginning and end of every shift/day.

Feedback and coaching is much more helpful when it is current.

6)       When coaching for performance, be sure to mention the behaviors that you have observed and how those behaviors relate to the results – good or bad.

Offer tips for changing unproductive behaviors and watch to see if the associate actually does change them.

7)       Make sure product knowledge is available for associates to review.

Have them read and then initial that they have read the material.

Don’t accept any excuses for not staying current with product knowledge.

8)       Ensure your management team members understand what is expected of them when they are in charge.

Associates need to see consistency in the way they are managed.

If what you are coaching them on is important, then the rest of the management team would find it important too, right?

Associates must see this united front, or consistency.

9)       A management team member must always be available to answer questions and generally assist associates in their efforts to ‘make their sales’.

10)   Although this may not be the ideal time for terminations, it’s also not the ideal time to carry dead weight. After all, you probably have limited wage dollars and spending them on a person who does not contribute isn’t a wise thing to do.

It is unfortunate if you have found yourself in this position at this time but, in the final analysis, it is what it is.

If you have provided feedback, suggestions, coaching and a reasonable amount of time for improvement of sales performance and the associate is still not performing according to your requirements, you need to start an official disciplinary process.

This usually means a discussion with your Human Resources Department.

This was an excerpt from DMSRetail Success Guide: “Dominate Holiday Sales”

Follow Up or Foul Up


It takes a lot of effort and energy to follow up on all of the tasks and directives that we, as leaders, assign to our subordinates on a daily basis.

If we fail to follow up, then much of what we expected to be taken care of will not be. We may insist this should not be the case…but it is.

And, there are reasons for this. We can’t just call it human nature and forget about it, or accept it.

Perhaps our subordinates……….Don’t agree with what is being asked of them.

Don’t think it’s very important and will have no impact one way or the other.

Don’t think their boss really cares whether it gets done or not.

See that there are no consequences for not getting it done.

Are too busy completing other, seemingly more important, tasks.

Don’t take directions from the boss seriously.

As a leader, you should give this a few moments thought. 

Here are some questions to guide you.

1) Are most of my instructions actually followed?

2) If my instructions are not being followed, why?

3) Do my people take me seriously? Or do they think I’ll change my mind anyway so why bother?

4) Am I often frustrated and angry when I discover that something has not been done?

5) Am I often embarrassed because something important has not been done?

6) Are my instructions being ignored due to lack of respect for me?

7) How much more effective and successful would I be if my subordinates were to do what I ask with little or no follow up?

In our experience, we find that leaders who fail to follow up don’t usually excel in their position. At least, it’s incredibly difficult.

We’ve told you about a study by Bain & Co., which pointed out that while 80% of CEO’s involved in the study declared that their companies provided a superb level of service, only 8% of their customers felt the same. 

This is very likely because the CEO’s gave, or approved, directives that were never properly carried out. 

And, of course, there was no follow up to ensure the directives had been properly executed. 

Too many assumptions were made.

In retail organizations, where you have several levels of individuals issuing directives and assigning tasks which have to filter down through the ranks and into the field to get to the customer facing personnel, you have to have top notch follow up mechanisms in place.

Follow up does not, and should not, equal micro management.

Of course, at times it does become micro management, but that’s only due to the leader’s inability to communicate clearly and put a strong follow up program in place.

It should be noted that follow up will be much more successful if the leader has communicated clearly in the first place. 

This means defining the task/directive, conveying the importance of getting it done and, usually, explaining the benefits (or the ‘why’) of completing the task. 

Issuing directives that are difficult to understand, or appear to have no benefit to the store or company, will undoubtedly make any follow up process more difficult.

Making sure your directives are executed properly:

First of all, the leader must have made it known that there will, indeed, be follow up in some form or another, and that there will be consequences for lack of execution. It’s called accountability.

This is not something that should have to be verbalized – like some sort of threat – it should be something that is understood; something that has become apparent through the leaders actions in the past.

When a leader finds that there are subordinates who consistently fail to execute properly, then that becomes a performance concern and should be dealt with as such.

And, when a leader finds that there are subordinates who consistently execute properly and do not require follow up because they always get the job done, they should take note and let those people know how their performance is being noticed.

No employee, regardless of performance in other areas, is above following the instructions of his/her superior. 

A superstar sales person does not get to ignore directives.

Of course, there should be open communication which allows subordinates to be heard; to present ideas; to push back for certain reasons; to provide the leader with information that he may not have been aware of, but, in general the chain of command exists for good reason.

As seen in many organizations where everyone does whatever they see fit – following some instructions and ignoring others – chaos ensues. 

In cases like these, there can be no uniformity, no standard image and, very likely, no serious brand recognition.

Don’t leave anything to chance…follow up.

Until Next Time…All the Success!DMSRetail
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PPS: Reply and tell us what you think. We love to get your feedback.
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Press Release

In-Person Professional Retail Management Training Resumes in Dubai, UAE

In December 2021, following a 21 month hiatus caused by the Covid pandemic, DMSRetail is set to re-introduce four of its revised and updated professional retail management workshops in Dubai, UAE.

DMSRetail Inc. was founded in 1991 and has supplied professional retail management training programs to the retail sector in the Middle East since 2008.

Many prominent Middle Eastern retailers sent management team members to DMSRetail workshops between 2008 and early 2020, when safety precautions and travel restrictions presented barriers to in-person training.

Now, with Expo 2021 Dubai underway, we’ve seen a lot of interest in our workshops.

Our programs – The Retail Operations Management Workshop – Brand, Category Management & Inventory Control – Loss Prevention & Profit Protection and others – continue to be offered online but do not replace the in-person learning experience.

Matt Parmaks, MSc., EVP said “The online version of the workshops are excellent, and we’ve had a lot of success with them. Of course, the need for training remained and we met that need. We’ve had participants join online from all over the world since mid-2020 when it became clear that face-to-face meetings were not ideal.”

We have chosen to limit class size to 20 people to meet the strictest, safest social distancing guidelines. The venues, also, are following Covid protocols to ensure the safety of their guests.

DMSRetail Inc. has scheduled the following workshops in Dubai, UAE after UAE National Day:

The Retail Operations Management Workshop – December 5-6-7, 2021

Retail Loss Prevention & Profit Protection Workshop – December 8 & 9, 2021

Brand, Category Management & Inventory Control Workshop – December 12-13-14, 2021

Multi-Unit Management & Store Visits for Maximum ROI – December 15 & 16, 2021

For an interview with Mr. Parmaks, or to inquire about anything in this press release, please contact Gwen Mitchell, Client Services: gmitchell@dmsretail.org or Josephine Hill, Events Manager: jhill@retailmanagementworkshop.com

Inventory Management Workshop

In this new Inventory Management Workshop ONLINE, you’ll get the benefit of a comprehensive program which covers all aspects of the Buying, Inventory Control and Category Management functions as well as Online and Digital Marketing, and much more.

We explain all of the steps and processes involved in Inventory Management from A to Z. Practice exercises and quizzes reinforce the content.

(Learn more about your Expert Instructor for the Inventory Management Workshop ONLINE, below.)

Here are the specific areas covered in the workshop:

Sourcing

Sourcing is an important and very time sensitive task in buying management. This module looks at the steps and the process of sourcing as well as the vendor analysis aspect of this work. (Retail Sourcing Primer, Vendor Analysis, Sourcing Challenges, Best Practices)

Negotiation

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Once the sourcing is done, the next step is negotiation. In this module, important aspects of building negotiation skills are discussed. Introduction to Negotiation, Negotiation Process, Planning, Targets & Aspirations, Common Mistakes in Negotiations)

Category Design

The crux of category management is category design or, as sometimes called, the category plan. This module covers the steps involved in creating a successful category design. (What is a Category?, Category Definition, Category Roles, Category Assessment)

Pricing

Correct pricing directly improves profitability. Different pricing models and strategies are revealed to improve understanding of this crucial activity. (Factors to Consider, Price Elasticity, General Pricing Approaches, Pricing Strategies)

Assortment Planning

Assortment planning carries a lot of weight in successful inventory management. This module discusses the important aspects and requirements of successful assortment planning. (What is Assortment Planning?, Key Deliverables, Impact on Company Operations, Assortment Planning and Customer Perspective, Key Factors and Assortment Process, Item Selection Considerations, Assortment Decision Making Considerations, Summary)

Allocation Planning

The other side of the coin to assortment planning is allocation planning, making it equally important. This module covers the techniques and considerations required to effectively plan allocation. (Good & Bad Ideas, Rules for Success, Allocation Principles, Key Allocation Capabilities)

Save time and save $46 per person when you register your inventory teams

 to attend this workshop together ONLINE.

Register Individuals and Teams Below.

Space Planning

In this module we demonstrate the difference in approaching space planning at Macro and Micro levels to facilitate optimum store layouts. (What is Space Planning?, Rationale and Constraints, Types of Merchandise, Space Planning Considerations, Macro Space Planning, Micro Space Planning)

Implementation Management

Merchandise and Category plans come to life when implemented at store level. The steps and approval process are discussed in detail. (Overview, Approval, Scheduling, Best Practices)

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Analytics & Reporting

This module deals with Key Performance Indicators in retail business, discussed within the framework of the “Pillars of Retail”. Other key formulas are also detailed. (Why Measure & 6 Pillars, Product KPI’s, GMROII & GMROF, KPI’s for Reporting/Merchandising, Online KPI’s)

Inventory Control

This module addresses the functions and processes involved in acquiring and controlling inventory. A very important tool used in inventory management is Open-to-Buy, and it is discussed and illustrated in detail. (Inventory Turns, Applied: Gross Margin Return on Inventory Investment, Buyer’s Goals, Merchandise Hierarchy, Merchandise Planning, Forecasting, Open-to-Buy or OTB)

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Distribution Strategies

To make assortments and allocations work properly, one must have a clear understanding of how distribution and logistics work. This module explains it all. (Distribution Channels, Function & Role of Distribution Channels, Logistics, Warehousing, Distribution Strategies)

Vendor Management

The crux of category management is category design or, as sometimes called, category plan. This module covers the steps involved in creating a successful category design. (What is Vendor Management?, Benefits, Challenges, Vendor Management Process, Best Practices, Vendor Management vs Vendor Relationship Management)


Internal Communications & Relationships

This module explains internal communications and focuses on the importance of internal communications with colleagues and other interested parties outside the company. (Internal Communications, Common Types of Internal Communications Pieces (aka “Comms”), Business Relationships, Building Quality Relationships)

Cost Management

Before we can manage costs involved in buying, we must understand what kind of costs and expenses we are dealing with. There is plenty of information on those subjects covered in this module. (Components of the Income Statement, Operating Expenses, Operating Statement, Inventory Systems, Purchasing Transactions, Cost of Holding Inventory)

Competitive Strategies

The buying organization has to be perfectly in-line with the company’s go-to-market strategy. This module discusses go-to-market, or competitive strategies, in detail. (Overview, Cost Leadership, Niche or Focus, Differentiation)

Promotions

In addition to promotional choices and sales promotion types, tactics at the category strategic level are also discussed in this module. (Tactical Choices, Sales Promotions, Tactics Examples, Considerations)

Category Marketing Strategies

A critical part of any marketing effort is to be able to define the characteristics of the target market. This module goes into detail on customer profiling. (Who Are My Customers?, Marketing Channels, Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategies, Product Type vs Strategy)

Online Marketing Fundamentals

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Because there is increasing momentum in online retail, in this module we discuss how to position the company properly online, by utilizing social media effectively. (Why Engage in Online Marketing?, Goal Setting, Who is Your Audience?, Where is Your Audience? Part 1 and Part 2)

Digital Marketing

In this module, the concepts and tools required to do effective Digital Marketing are discussed in detail. The step by step process is also illustrated. (Return on Investment or ROI, Maximizing Your Exposure, Social Media Strategy, Social Media Automation Tools, Putting it All Together)

Operational Policies & Procedures

Provides understanding as to why we need and use policies and procedures in general, and as they relate to the buying function. (General Policies & Procedures, Inventory Management & Procurement – Internal Controls, Physical and Document Controls)

Make room on your calendar….new sessions just scheduled:

Monday, October 18

Wednesday, October 20 

 Friday, October 22, 2021

Total of 9 Hours – Conveniently separated into 3 sessions.

3 Hours each Day – From 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon Eastern 

Registration fee covers all 3  sessions.

Presentation and Recordings will be sent to Registrants – attend or not.

Only $495/Person

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Save time and save $46/person when you have your 

inventory teams attend this workshop together ONLINE.

Team Rate: Only $449/Person

(Edit Qty on Order Page)

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Email: solutions @ dmsretail . com

Your Expert Instructor for the Inventory Management Workshop ONLINE

Matt Parmaks, MSc.

Matt Parmaks has extensive knowledge about the retail industry, gained through formal education, executive level retail work experience and a keen interest in business and world affairs. He has worked at the executive level in Merchandise Management for prominent North American retailers.

Matt received Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering from the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Until next time,

All the Success!

DMSRetail.com

PS: If you have questions about the workshop or if you’d like to inquire about exclusive sessions, other time zones and/or larger group rates, please send an email to: solutions @ dmsretail . com . Thank you.

Highly Successful Retail Manager and Customer Service

Highly successful retail managers (HSRM) are passionate about delivering exemplary customer service; they treat customers with the respect they deserve – role modeling on the sales floor so associates can see and hear exactly what exemplary customer service looks and sounds like.

The HSRM knows that every customer, in every situation, must be treated with the utmost courtesy and respect and, if he does not role model that behavior at all times, there is very little hope of associates delivering consistently.

Role modeling correct and proper behavior ensures that you are seen as the authority on how the customer is to be treated.

It also earns you respect as employees see how easily you deal with customers in every situation.

They see how you change your greeting and overall approach to different customers.

For example, you would likely treat teenagers looking at headphones differently than you would treat a mature married couple who are upgrading their entertainment system – not in any way better or worse, just differently.

Approaches are not generic and need to be tailored, just like the rest of the sales process.

Role modeling is an excellent way to teach and HSRM’s take every opportunity to do so.

HSRM’s know their customer and they insist that their team members learn as much as they can about them also.

By talking to customers, and through various types of analysis, the HSRM becomes an expert on his customers likes and dislikes; their shopping habits; what they will, and will not, accept in terms of merchandise and various other things.

For example, an HSRM would be able to speak intelligently about how the customer will react to a proposed visual display or a promotion.

They know their customer and their subordinates understand that maximum performance depends on knowing the customer also.

The HSRM teaches by showing – by role modeling as mentioned above.

This aspect of the job cannot be underestimated because it speaks volumes about you and your expectations.

Associates must sincerely believe in the importance of the customer.

There is no better way to instill this belief, than by having the manager demonstrate how important the customers are to him/her.

The HSRM knows what the organizations’ service strategy is, knows how to deliver it, never fails to deliver it and expects the same from everyone in the company.

Before any associate steps on to the sales floor, s/he must have been made aware of the customer service offering of the company and how the company expects it to be delivered.

For example, if the business model of a particular company is one of self service then associates may not be expected to actively engage customers in sales conversations.

However, to ensure that the business is still focused on revenue generation through excellence in customer service, they would still want to see customers treated in a particular way; perhaps they would expect an approach and an offer of assistance.

Whatever the company decides to deliver as far as customer service is concerned, that is what the associate must be trained for once the customer service basics are in place.

Many companies incorrectly assume that their new associates possess the basics of customer service.

This is a mistake because when it comes time to layer on training specific to the company’s customer service offering the new associate may become confused and will not perform well.

It would be like learning to run before learning to walk, resulting in a lot of falls or, at least, missteps.

The key, here, is making sure that basics are understood first. Basics consist of things like:

Arrow-Right Presentation – dress and grooming

Arrow-Right Physical posture

Arrow-Right Good manners

Arrow-Right Telephone etiquette

Arrow-Right Knowing what is, and is not, appropriate behavior on the sales floor

Arrow-Right Showing respect for the customers’ time

Arrow-Right Showing respect for the merchandise

Arrow-Right Understanding the company expectations and general workplace rules

The highly successful retail manager knows how to assess associates to ascertain their level of competence when it comes to delivering customer service.

This is usually done at the time of the interview and with well worded questions to past employers during the reference check.

Of course, observation is an excellent assessment method also.

Once the basics are clearly understood and the associate understands what the company customer service offering is, and how to deliver it, they are ready for the sales floor.

The HSRM knows that this training is critical and that it positively must be done before the associate interacts with customers.

After that, the manager must keep a very close eye on the associate to ensure that all interaction with customers is exactly as it should be.

Watch for eye contact, body language, facial expressions, what is actually said and tone of voice.

We said earlier that HSRM’s role model exemplary customer service at all times and that doing so was the best way to ensure associates realized the importance of customer service.

There is, of course, more to be done to ensure the on-going improvement of our associates and one of the major things is to have coaching conversations as often as possible.

After observing an associate the HSRM spends a few minutes talking to them to either praise or correct, or both.

Praise comes fairly easily. The HSRM praises the associate for specific behaviors that were correct.

Having a coaching conversation where you must correct behaviors can also be easy if you direct your attention to the specific behavior and make sure not to criticize the individual.

The HSRM knows that these conversations are an absolute must and that they owe it to the associate, the company and the customer to make the conversation as productive as possible.

The HSRM knows, intuitively, how customers should be treated and, in addition to modeling the behavior, HSRM’s teach all associates these golden rules:

Arrow-Right Treat every customer like a valued guest – using only the best manners.

Arrow-Right Never say the word “no” to a customer – even when you cannot say ‘yes’, find a way to handle any situation without actually using the word “no”.

Arrow-Right Respect the customer’s time – always – if the customer has to wait, be sure to let the customer know why he is waiting and approximately how long he will have to wait.

Arrow-Right Put yourself in the customers’ shoes and try to see things from their perspective – ask yourself “How would I feel if I were the customer in this case?”

Arrow-Right Never assume anything – ask questions to gain information.

Arrow-Right Recognize the customer’s lifetime value to the organization.

Arrow-Right Smile and show your enthusiasm for your work.

For more on Retail Customer Service, Click on the banner below

Retail Customer Service Fundamentals

Monday, Monday…Standards, Execution & Benchmarks

Monday’s always test us, but it’s much worse when multi-unit Managers miss target due to subpar execution at store level!

Retail Standards, Benchmarks & Execution…Critical!  

Don’t you just hate it when you don’t make target?   Honestly, no one wants to be the biggest loser of the week.   

Sure, we know there are reasons and we search for all of the possible explanations and declare we will do better and make it next week!  

And, that’s what is expected because, as multi-unit Managers we are on a never ending quest to achieve target in every store…day after day, week after week, and so on and so on.   

So, give it the old Rah! Rah! and go at it again.

Ok, maybe we’re having a little bit of fun…making light of the situation.  

But that’s because we know the life of an Operations, Regional, District Manager and all of the other retail management positions that are getting their numbers together, their phone calls made and their charts printed so they can go into their meetings – Zoom or otherwise – and sound like they know what they’re talking about; they’ve identified the issues.  

We don’t doubt that the vast majority do, indeed, know what they’re talking about.  

On Mondays, they absorb all kinds of new information…plans and challenges for the week ahead are discussed and strategies formulated and off they go.   

Mondays are usually very long days.   

Most multi-unit Managers – Ops, RMs & DM’s – are happy when Monday is over.  

Win or lose last week, another week in retail is already underway and they’re ready for it.   

Every single hour of every day we are pushing to make our stores and our people successful.  

We try to give them everything they need.  

We call and text and visit and generally do whatever we can to motivate and encourage…to coach and guide.  

But, at the end of the day, it’s all in the hands of store personnel.  

Most significantly, the Store Manager…because the DM cannot be in every store all day every day, nor should there be reason to.

That’s not the job.   The idea is to manage through others.   

We’re supposed to build strong teams and develop great people and communicate well and generally do everything possible to ensure they execute as expected.

Many RM’s and DM’s can’t be in every store once a week or even once a month.   

Imagine the opportunity for negative things to take root when visits are few and far between.   

Of course, you might say things like “oh, Store Manager’s don’t need that much attention...they can be trusted…they know what they’re doing…” and, of course, you may very well be right.   

But you have to be sure and you have to know the capabilities of each person before treating them like ‘seasoned treasures’ who don’t need you so much anymore.  

We know that most Store Managers are great, hard working dedicated professionals but that doesn’t mean they don’t need proper management.  

Running a business unit in a far flung geographic location that is seldom visited is tough.

Right from the start, those managers need even more help than managers closer to home.   

You can’t just swoop in, give someone the keys and leave for an extended period…hoping for the best.  

If you do that, that’s all that will happen – you will continually hope for the best and not necessarily achieve it.

Perhaps, the biggest challenge for multi-unit managers  is managing remotely. We address the challenge.  

If you want to have better sales results and better Mondays…    

You have to put a success formula in place that keeps working even when you’re not there.

Now accepting registrations for the mid-September.   Retail Standards, Benchmarks & Execution  Seminar ONLINE

Total of 6 Hours conveniently separated into two sessions.

Wednesday, Sept. 15 & Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Eastern each day  

Case Study, Exercises, Follow-up Program   LIVE & INTERACTIVE – Registration covers both sessions. Full presentation sent to email of every registrant  whether you attend or not.
Until Next Time…

PS: For inquiries, contact:

jhill at retailmanagementworkshop . com

PPS: BONUS added for Early Bird Registration: Study Course – 7 Step Process to get Maximum ROI on Store Visits ($147 Value)

Get Out of Town – Really!

It is impossible to direct an operation without knowing how it works.

How it really works, not how it is supposed to work.

If you are in charge of a retail operation and don’t have your next out of town store visit trip booked …do it now.

It’s more important to visit out of town stores more often than you visit stores in close proximity to Head Office.

In town visits are really not as productive, for you or the company, as out of town visits.

There are many reasons for this but among the most important are familiarity and favoritism.

The home town Store Managers are usually more familiar and friendly with Head Office staff and out of town stores perceive the in town stores to be favored…true or not.

For everyone’s sake, get out of town regularly.

Call the District Manager and each of the Managers you plan to see during your trip and ask them to prepare a list of questions for you.

This call should be made by you, not your assistant.

Tell the Store Managers that no topic is off limits and that you are sincerely looking forward to hearing their ideas, answering their questions and discussing the business with them.

Make sure you let them know exactly when you will be in town and then work together to come up with the best day and time for you to meet with them in their store.

Remember that, during these visits, your schedule is much more flexible than theirs. They must consider floor coverage, breaks for staff, etc.

Let them know that you would like to do a store walk through and then meet, out of the store of course, for lunch or coffee.

After doing all of the above you will already have accomplished a great deal.

You have made a commitment to meet with certain individuals and, barring an unforeseen disaster, you will show up at the date and time agreed to.

They are counting on it; their staff members are counting on it.

The operation is important to you and, while you are out of town visiting your stores very few things should be allowed to take priority over your scheduled meetings with Managers.

What you learn from these meetings will be very valuable for you and the organization.

You have elevated your business partners. They are excited about your visit and they are feeling more like a valued company professional than they ever did before.

With your phone call you have personally acknowledged their importance to the company and their level of motivation has shot right through the roof.

They are pumped and they will rally their teams to get ideas, questions and concerns. When you arrive they will be ready to contribute.

In contrast to this scenario many VP’s and Directors do something like this:

Make a decision to fly out in a few days; have their assistant send an e-mail to a District Manager to make sure they are picked up at the airport; the assistant is instructed to tell the DM that there are certain stores they want to see, certain stores they do not need to see and the schedule, or order of store visits, can be worked out when they arrive.

The DM then lets his/her Managers know that there will be a Head Office visit during a specified period of time but no one is sure whether the visitor will come to their store or not.

The reason for the ‘possible’ visit is not known.

Even if a particular Manager is told that the Head Office visitor will come to their store, no time is set because the visitors schedule is subject to change if something more important comes up.

Perception is reality and all that.

Our opinion is that there are very few things more important than meeting with a Store Manager who is expecting you.

I have witnessed many cases where a store team knows of a pending visit and waits the entire day (and evening) only to have a Manager of another store call to say ‘they’re not coming because they got off schedule’ which translates into ‘too bad you waited; you’re really not that important.’

In this scenario no one is expected to prepare anything or to contribute in any way. They are just the keepers of the stores.

This is a completely wasted visit.

Unfortunately, the Store Managers are likely to be de-motivated by all of this.

Even if the Head Office individual does feel that they accomplished something with this visit, it is nothing compared to what they could have accomplished.

A note about surprise visits: Before your next surprise visit, determine exactly why you are doing it.

Do you want to know what the store looks like and how the staff are handling customers, etc.? Do you want to catch someone doing something wrong?

Isn’t there a better way? Of course there is and you don’t need to fly around the country to do it.

Try to find a good Mystery Shopper. More on that in another article.

Think about this. You are a VP or Director. It is Monday at 1:45 p.m.

Last weeks numbers are not great and you have been working feverishly all morning trying to analyze what is going on; you’re calling RM’s and DM’s, buyers and marketing staff; your assistant called in sick and you haven’t had a chance to have a bite to eat.

You have to have the full explanation of what went wrong and your complete action plan ready in time for the 4:00 p.m. meeting with the boss.

The CEO walks into your office and has you call in all of your subordinates for a meeting – right there and then – and during that meeting you must still carry on with your work (think customers in the store).

You do not have the option of saying that this is not a good time; you just have to live with the situation. Impossible is it? Sounds a little bizarre?

That’s a surprise visit. Just don’t do it.

You can have a tremendous impact on your business by handling store visits as proper professional business meetings.

No doubt you have Store Managers at different stages of development with different levels of knowledge, skill and experience.

Your visit can be used to build a foundation of management strength in the field.

You can impart knowledge to raise the skill level of your newer and less experienced Managers.

You can challenge your more experienced and more knowledgeable Managers.

You have tremendous power to create very positive attitudes and a loyal following.

In addition to the motivation you create in the field you are going to go back to the office much better off.

You will have new insight and information and you got it from the people who are in direct and constant communication with your customer; you got it from the people who make the sales and satisfy your customers.

If you do it right, you can accomplish truly incredible things with your store visits.

Max ROI Store Visits

Max ROI Store Visits

Planning on Staying in Business? Stop Cutting!

  This company saved a buck but left customers angry and disappointed.
Yesterday we talked about the perils of cutting expenses and shrinking the business without giving thought to the consequences. 

We said that cost cutting measures usually interfere with the job of selling and will, therefore, reduce revenues over time.

This story illustrates the point.
The retailer in this story is a well known ice cream and chocolate company that was once owned by a huge international company who sold ice cream and confections, and more, to wholesalers and distributors.  

When they decided to sell off the relatively small retail chain of ice cream and chocolate stores, they did something that was almost unthinkable!  

Well, to the employees and loyal customers it was unthinkable.

They got rid of a little perk customers had come to love…and expect.  

Customers had been forced to endure quite a few changes over a relatively short period of time.

Every change was a cost cutting exercise for the company.  

For one thing, the free gift wrapping they had come to expect was no longer available.

Too expensive…even with the advertising benefit taken into account.  

Then some of their all time favorite products – staples of the business for years – were no longer available as they were, apparently, not profitable enough.   

Finally, the small, oval chocolate that had always been placed on the top of every ice cream cone sold, was discontinued.  

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. 
It was almost hysterical!  

For years, at the front of every shop, stood a huge cutout of a picture of an ice cream cone with a small, oval chocolate on top.  

The chocolate was inserted into the top of every ice cream cone served…as advertised.  

The cutout/stand was made of very durable material – hard, thick, plasticized corrugated material.   

The cutout was moved into position every morning when opening the doors.

Customers loved that chocolate…adults and kids alike.  

I would go so far as to say it often made the difference when choosing which ice cream shop to buy their cones from.  

District Managers were issued heavy duty scissors and told to go out to the stores and cut off the oval chocolate as they would no longer be putting the chocolate on ice cream cones and didn’t want to represent that they would.
The reason I say it was almost hysterical is because of the scene.

Try to imagine a professionally dressed individual kneeling on the floor, wresting with a toppled 5 foot tall cardboard cutout of a huge ice cream cone, at the entrance of a store, using a giant pair of scissors to cut around the shape of a chocolate that was at the top of it. 

It was extremely difficult to cut the chocolate out and the appearance, after the surgery, was terrible.
  It was ridiculous.   

Customers were very unhappy and made  their views known to store employees.    

Store employees, in turn, made their views  known to their District Managers but to no avail.

The chocolate was gone. End of story.   The change was not going over well at all. But that didn’t matter. 

You know why?   Unbeknownst to field personnel, the chain was being sold.

It was deemed important for the chain to show as much profit as possible so prospective buyers would see it more favorably.   

For the current owner, who had no intention of growing the chain and planned to sell it within the year, it made sense.

Cut, cut, cut and future business be damned.   For customers it was a loss.  

For the buyer who was not likely aware at the time, it meant nothing until after they made the investment and soon came to find out that the chain had recently lost a lot of loyal customers – the worst kind to lose!   

Eventually, the small oval chocolate returned.

The buyer of the chain realized it was an important part of the customer experience.   

The moral of the story is this:    If you’re selling your company then you will do whatever you feel you need to do.   

If you plan to stay in business and prosper, don’t cut indiscriminately.   Reduce waste, of course.   

Cut unnecessary expenses, absolutely.  

Find new sources for things and make sure you’re getting the best you can for your money.   

But be certain that your cuts won’t negatively affect customers, profit and future business.  

It can be difficult and we can help you.
Register for  The Retail Operations Management Workshop ONLINE: Next Available Session – Tuesday, August 31 & Thursday, September 2, 2021 9 AM – 12 PM Eastern (New York) (3 Hours Each Day) Registration covers both sessions.

Live & Interactive

The full presentation and recording is sent to all registrants, whether you attend or not, so scheduling is never an issue.
Or, get personal attention from our Operations experts. Check out the program here.
We love to hear from you! Let us know how your business is doing.

Until next time,
All the Success!

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