Retail Company Culture

Having worked for several prominent retail organizations I have seen the impact of both positive and negative cultures on the workforce, the customers and, of course, the success of the business.

Have no doubt whatsoever, the head of the organization dictates, through words and actions, what the culture will be.

I want to tell you about the incredible culture created by a CEO, and a gentleman, I’ll call Sam.

For three years, I had the opportunity to work for the company that this man headed up before he decided to sell his successful enterprise to a large, old school retailer.

We were all very happy for him.

This sale was going to mean a lot more time for he and his wife to travel and generally enjoy life after a lot of years of hard work and dedication to their business.

We were saddened to be losing such a great leader but we knew he deserved the rest and we wished him well.

Those three years were perhaps the most rewarding and educational years of my entire career, one that spans over twenty years.

The company was managed in such a way that you had no choice but to feel like an important part of it.

No employee was ever treated like a number, unworthy of receiving up to date communication on what was happening within the company.

The executive were always aware of the impact their actions would have on store personnel and customers.

In this company everyone understood where, and by whom, sales were made and every effort was made to include input from the field whenever important decisions were being made that would affect employees or customers.

The man I speak of did not always have a successful company on his hands. At one time, as I understand, the company had been on the brink of failure.

He, and his loyal employees managed to save it.

It was quite a feat, requiring dedication, a new direction and a new way of being. Sam did many, many things to move his company in the right direction.

To detail all of them would require a book, which I hope he will write some day, and a lot more information than I have available to me.

I did not know this man as well as some of my colleagues did but I know, for certain, that he is a man with integrity.

If he says it, you can take it to the bank.

By the time I came on board the company was doing very well. A brand new culture had been built. That’s right…built.

Culture is something you build with every word you say and every action you take. A positive culture does not come about by accident.

It takes a lot of soul searching and checking with people and just when you think you have it all figured out you have to check again.

It takes the ability and the willingness to know and admit that you don’t know everything and you don’t have all the answers.

It takes a desire to get input and feedback from the people affected by a given situation.

It takes the guts to take action to fix something that’s not working. It takes coaching and loyalty and lending a hand to those who need it.

It takes understanding that people don’t make mistakes because they want to.

It takes a firm, but kind, word to someone who messes up. It takes the ability to foster a feeling of belonging among those who are in your business family.

Sam certainly did all of these things and he worked tirelessly to ensure his executive and management teams did also.

Store Managers were invited, and expected, to have an impact on the whole organization and not just their own store.

If she made a request there were only two acceptable outcomes.

1) The request was granted and a date for completion was to be given or

2) The request was not granted and the reasons were explained.

It did not stop there if the Store Manager was not satisfied with the outcome. She was never expected to settle for an answer that did not satisfy her.

The process that ensued was one of open and on-going dialogue until either the Store Manager became convinced and was satisfied with the reason that her request could not be granted or she managed to convince her Manager that the request should be granted.

It wasn’t over just because someone said it was over.

And the company flourished. Following the news of the sale of the company, most field management stayed in place for some time.

Unfortunately, as with all good things, the culture we had come to know and love ended.

It was like a period of mourning. Executive and management moved on to new challenges and the business went straight down, at least for the short term.

The new owners will never understand what happened. There will be reasons and excuses but they all amount to nothing.

The truth, that they probably do not even realize, is that the great culture was run out of town; obviously deemed unnecessary and not worth saving.

It’s that simple and it’s such a shame.

Those of us who lived in Sam’s environment clearly understand what happened when he and his carefully chosen team were no longer at the helm.

The key to sustaining a successful business is to RESPECT the culture — after all, the business is secretly thriving on it; OBSERVE carefully, for a time, and then ACT appropriately.

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Conversion Nightmare

Retail Customer Service Fundamentals —

Test your retail management analytical and problem solving skills.

Here’s the case store situation:

In a busy regional mall, which has been operating for approximately 30 years, and which has undergone several renovations, there is one very unusually positioned store.

The store sells women’s lingerie. It is part of a well known, multi-national chain which does very well.

The store volume is pretty good and they are above average in meeting targets for sales and most other KPI’s.

The one KPI they do not ever meet is conversion.

They are always below chain, region and district average in their percentage of achievement in this particular KPI.

Although they do many things well, they just cannot meet their Conversion targets.

The Store Manager and staff believe they know what the problem is.

The store is situated at one tip of the triangular shaped mall. For ease of access to the rest of the mall, this store has entrance/exit doors on both sides.

On both sides, the doors lead to the hallways of the mall with stores located across the hallways. The store does not have an outside access door…only mall access.

Directly across from one of the doors is a convenience store which sell all kinds of things…from milk and bread to souvenirs, lottery tickets to o-t-c medicine and skincare products.

It’s a very busy store that does not have an access door from the mall parking lot. The closest parking is located just the other side of our case study store.

The only way for people to get to the convenience store without walking all the way around the mall, is to cut through our lingerie store.

And, they do that in huge numbers…to get TO the convenience store and to get FROM there back to the parking lot.

Imagine the chaos. Imagine the traffic counter working overtime!

Needless to say the 28 year old Mom who is running in to pick up some Children’s Tylenol to take care of her sick toddlers high fever, is not going to be enticed to stop and shop for lingerie regardless of the promotions or the sales associate who is standing on her head trying to make it so.

And, the 79 year old gentleman who buys lottery tickets every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, week in and week out, is not considering purchasing lingerie for his sweetheart.

But, what about the woman who is going to pick up some milk while she is at the mall shopping for shoes?

Or, the guy who is going to get some chocolates from the convenience store three days before Valentine’s Day?

The executive continue to lament the lack of conversion in our lingerie store and refuse to lower the target.

  • Is the Store Manager making excuses?
  • Is the Conversion Rate set too high?
  • What should it be?
  • Has the unusual traffic situation already been taken into account?
  • Is there some wild and crazy way to stop these ‘walk through’ people and get them to buy something?

This situation illustrates the obvious requirement to know the facts before accusing the staff for lack of performance.

More stories like this at

Back to Basics

A brand new market reality is upon us and, naturally, most retailers want to lift their performance up a 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.

Retail Employee Evaluation System —

At DMSRetail, when it comes to performance, we place the highest degree of importance on people.

When all things are equal, people make a big difference.

In fact people make a huge difference even when everything else is not equal.

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:


Hiring the right caliber of people is crucial to your success in retail management, perhaps more so than in any other industry.

Every single one of your hiring decisions, as a Store Manager, District Manager or Regional Manager or a Business Owner will speak volumes about your organization and your personal values and abilities.

In retail there is no such thing as hiding behind a desk or a cubicle for any employee and, thus, for their Manager.

A simple but very effective way of hiring the right people is modeling.

Develop a sufficiently detailed profile of your most successful person and look for and hire people who fit that profile as closely as possible even if it means paying a few dollars more; you will be rewarded multiple times over in terms of elevated performance and lack of headaches.

Pure and simple.


Everybody seems to know how important training is, yet most retail managers give it only lip service.

One of the major reasons for the high degree of customer dissatisfaction and resulting lost sales in the retail industry is poorly trained employees who do not have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

An important part of the training must be clear communication of goals, objectives and expectations in full detail.

Measurements in terms of sales numbers, customer satisfaction index and other performance indicators should be on paper and staff must be verbally quizzed regularly to make sure they know all the expectations and their individual performance against those expectations at any given time.

Performance Evaluation:

If you have installed the performance expectations correctly, then evaluation of staff performance is a simple and straight forward process.

If your staff is performing above expectations, all you have to do is stretch the expectations a little and support them with a pat on the back, prizes and other monetary and non-monetary rewards to keep them going higher and higher.

On the other hand, if they are not performing, there are usually 2 fundamental reasons:

a) Lack of skills
b) Lack of right attitude

Lack of skills is fairly easy to deal with — it means that they have to go back to training.

Dealing with a bad attitude can range from difficult to very complex.

If you followed our advice on hiring, you should not be suffering from bad attitude disease.

In any case, here are possible dimensions of an attitude problem:

a) Management-induced dimensions: incompetent managers almost always create an atmosphere where staff does not care anymore.

If manager to staff communication is poor and/or too seldom, the staff will feel neglected and if the situation continues for any length of time, the feeling will turn into a bad attitude.

Another management- induced dimension occurs when the manager doesn’t know how to motivate or doesn’t want to motivate, or both.

This again, will ultimately result in a bad attitude.

The management-induced bad attitude list can be a long one and will result in severe lack of performance of the store.

b) Lack of self motivation: Some people suffer from chronic lack of self confidence, often as a result of poor upbringing and lack of education.

Unless you are a psychologist ( which you probably aren’t) or have a ton of free time on your hands (which you don’t) this is a tough nut to crack.

Your best bet is probably to part ways.

c) Personal issues: these can be anywhere from physical convenience issues like living far from the workplace and not having dependable transportation to personal family dramas that may be affecting the individual’s focus, devotion and behavior resulting in lack of performance.

Your ‘all around high performers’ are your most valuable asset.

They are your goodwill ambassadors, your spokespersons; they create your image and your fine reputation.

They build relationships with your customers and they can turn them into customers for life.

They sell your products.

Because of the impact they have, you owe it to yourself and your business to hire, train and evaluate people with the utmost care and attention.

The bottom line is you have to be very aware of people performance issues and you have to be equipped to deal with those issues if you want to make this year your best year ever.

You can find our Retail Employee Evaluation System You can Use to Improve Performance in Retail Business Academy:

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Another Day in the Life of a Retail Customer

A recent shopping trip to a store — one of many stores in a large, well recognized chain — indicated clearly, that a performance culture does not exist in that organization.

I have shopped at several of their locations to purchase things for my home and car, for camping supplies, for Christmas lights and decorations, etc.

I can’t say I have ever been really impressed with the service level offered, but I usually found what I was looking for and paid a reasonable price for it.

They sell major brands and can generally be counted on to stand behind the merchandise they sell.

It’s easy to determine, very quickly, whether or not a performance culture exists in a retail company.

If it doesn’t exist, some customers will not recognize it for what it is — they will just be dissatisfied and leave with a bad impression.

On this particular occasion I was looking for a small appliance for the home.

I found coffee makers and mixers and toasters and just about every small appliance you can think of.

What I was looking for, however, was not on the shelves — an electric can opener. That’s a pretty basic small appliance for the home, wouldn’t you agree?

This chain has been in business for many, many years and, in my wildest dreams, I could not imagine that they would not have an electric can opener for sale.

So, assuming that I was just not looking in the right place, I sought out an employee to help me.

To be fair, I must tell you that there was a lot of merchandising going on at the time.

Not that their merchandising schedule should be my concern because customers should never take a back seat to any task being performed in a store.

But it did add to the confusion.

Anyway, the associate I found to help me definitely tried to help me find an electric can opener.

He was somewhat embarrassed because he was certain they had them, he just didn’t know where they were.

He was communicating via headset and tried several times to contact someone who would know where electric can openers were merchandised.

He offered his apologies, for the delay and confusion, while I followed him around and around the small appliances department.

In the end, he said that he was pretty sure they had can openers but no one knew where they were. He was sorry.

This was an excellent example of the lack of a performance culture.

The associate was definitely a performance oriented individual but his colleagues and superiors — the ones he contacted for help — were not.

In a truly performance oriented company, they would all have been on the same page. They would all have worked to find the electric can openers.

The loss of a sale of one electric can opener will not break the company.

But you can be sure that this was not just an isolated incident. When the lost sales add up we all know what the result can be.

Retailers who had been around for years are now gone.

A performance culture must be well defined, well communicated and constantly nurtured.

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Amazing Little Store vs. Sluggish Giant

Today, we’re going to look at an important, but often ignored, part of running a profitable business…

… using a couple of enlightening (and very brief) anecdotes from my recent shopping adventures.

Let’s call this lesson: Amazing Little Store vs. Sluggish Giant.

See if you can spot how the following short story may apply to YOUR business…

OK, here we go.

In my line of work, I am required to shop a lot! For everything.

Over the past few months I’ve been doing a study on two markets…or grocery stores…in a city of about 500,000 people commonly referred to as Forest City, although that is not its name.

In Forest City, there is an affluent area which is well served by many retailers; chains and independents.

Now, the Sluggish Giant is a huge place — one of a large chain of other Sluggish Giants — but we are focusing on just one in this story.

It was built with selection and one stop shopping in mind.

As with other huge places, they have a pharmacy, an electronics department, a house wares department…you can get bedding, pots and pans, and garbage cans.

In fact, as I am writing I am hard pressed to come up with anything they don’t have when it comes to everyday needs in the course of running a household.

This Sluggish Giant is clean and modern, well signed, well merchandised (for the most part) and is generally well prepared for the public.

Oh… and prices are reasonable.

They even offer cooking classes and have a fitness club attached; a dry cleaners and a little kiosk where you can purchase a bottle of wine.

So, one could say the ‘product’ was great; product being the building, the offering and the whole store environment.

And, as I mentioned above, the prices are reasonable. I might even say they were good, but not cheap….not a bargain or anything like that.

I do have complaints about the Sluggish Giant, though… but not because of the stuff they sell, the prices or the basics they deliver like a clean and tidy environment, etc.

And I’ll get back to the complaints later on.

Now, let’s introduce the Amazing Little Store.

What a place. Lots of good things to say about The Amazing Little Store, but it is quite small and limited in selection due to its size.

There is no pharmacy, no wine store, no dry cleaners, no house wares or electronics department…you get the picture.

In fact, you cannot buy bleach or pet food there. It is definitely not a one stop shop.

Mr. & Mrs. Affluent of Forest City shop regularly at The Amazing Little Store…often. It’s crowded most of the time.

The shopping carts are miniature versions of the Sluggish Giants’ shopping carts. And they have to be, or you’d never be able to maneuver in the place.

Prices are not over the top at The Amazing Little Store, but they’re higher than usual…for everything.

I forgot to mention they have a small flower shop (with higher priced floral bouquets and arrangements) and a ready to go Sushi stand.

The produce is fresher, bigger and shinier!

Here’s a biggie…they have so much staff in the store it’s almost inconceivable compared to any other retailer.

But they do so much business they surely will not have a wage cost problem. There are 16 people working behind the scenes in the salad area.

Those people are working all day long making fresh salads of all types…and they are selling them like they are going out of style.

A final small delight…you can enjoy a free cup of coffee while wheeling your miniature cart around looking at every square inch of shelf and counter space, lest you miss some new and tantalizing foods.
No time to travel? Don’t want to incur extra expenses for accommodation, transportation and meals normally associated with top quality training? We’ve got a business changing solution for that.
DMSRetail’s Ultimate Retail Success Collection
Now… here’s where the lesson comes in.

While the Sluggish Giant shines as an overall supplier to the household shopper, the staff and customer service policies are disastrous.

It wouldn’t be possible for any customer to think highly of them.

Certainly, many people shop at Sluggish Giant because it’s a huge market that is close to home and has just about everything they need… but that doesn’t mean they would be loyal if they had another option that provided the same things.

So, watch out Sluggish Giant, your future is probably not so bright.

They want you to do everything for yourself. They want you to use self checkout — where there is always a long line up.

If you do want a cashier to check you through, you will wait in an even longer line up. And here is the kicker…even if you are not at self check out…you will self pack!

That is, they do not pack your groceries in the bags (yours or theirs).

No, they just let the groceries pile up on the conveyor belt waiting for you to get the hint that you are supposed to be performing part of their job.

I can’t go on about this or we’ll never get through this lesson.

They are trying to save labor dollars. Well, good for them. Any well run business would pay attention to costs.

But, even though they are not a ‘no frills’ environment with dead cheap prices, they believe that I am supposed to help them out in their quest for wage savings! Really?

Perhaps they need to do a little more thinking about their business. I’m not inclined to help them and I don’t think many other people are either.

Here’s just one small example — one of many similar things that happened to me in that store …one of my items being scanned by the robotic cashier at the Sluggish Giant was ripped open at the bottom (and it was clear that a customer could not have caused this particular damage) — I don’t want packaged food that is not properly packaged, so I asked the cashier to call someone to replace it.

He nodded. A few moments later, because no one came to the desk, I reminded him.

He said “you should just go and get another one yourself”. (Just so you know, I did not go and get it and there was quite the little upset at that young man’s cash desk.)

And all of this from a fellow with a smock that has “Need Help? — Just Ask Me” emblazoned in huge, bold, colorful letters on his back!

And it just ticked me off that the staff members seem to have taken classes in offending customers. The staff members I encountered all need attitude adjustments.

But, alas, there is no management person, working at Sluggish Giant, who will take care of that. They just don’t get it!

If it weren’t so sad and annoying it would be hilarious!

Hey — I realize this isn’t earth shaking stuff.

You may be saying ‘so what’ if I have to pack my own stuff and ‘so what’ if I have to replace a ripped package (because it’s my fault that it’s ripped???).

But that’s the point of this little story.

It’s the little, lousy ’so what’ stuff that actually leaves the biggest impression.

This got me thinking about customer service delivery.

Over at The Amazing Little Store, the staff members are like long-lost family. The cashiers are always smiling and always make you feel like they are glad you are there.

And, guess what? You’re not going to believe this. They have 9 cash desks and, when needed, 9 cashiers. And what might be the reason for all this?

Well, gee, it’s probably to ensure that customers don’t have to wait in line to exit the store.

They love me!!! They’re happy that I shop here. And… they respect my time!!!

The life-time value of a customer is what counts and this little store has got me for life…or as long as I live in this city.

Remember, it’s not that first sale. It’s all the repeat purchases that build a successful business model.

Good business savvy demands over-the-top excellent customer service… all the way down the line.

It costs you a lot of money to acquire a new customer.

Have you ever tried to figure out just how much it costs, to acquire one new customer, in advertising and other promotional costs? Probably you haven’t.

And you probably haven’t tried to figure out how much of your profit comes from your loyal customers.

Well, at least you should understand that your loyal, repeat customers are giving you most of your profit. Think about it.

Without the loyal customer, who would pay for the marketing and advertising to get the new customer??

I probably won’t shop at Sluggish Giant again. They have what I need but I don’t like to shop there — I don’t FEEL good when I shop there.

They don’t like me or respect my time. Even if I do shop there again, I could never be considered one of their loyal customers.

So it’s worth noting that even a great product, at a great price…can be nullified by rotten customer service.

And it’s also worth noting that another place — like the Amazing Little Store — can leave you with great feelings about the experience, making you want to go back again and again even if you have to stop elsewhere to pick up the other things you need.

Convenience is not top of the list, but that’s ok.

So the perfect mix is: Great product, great value for the money…
… and great customer service.

It’s not brain surgery.

Apart from providing great service up front, if your customer has a problem, they better get personal service fast.

You will never make everyone happy, of course. You’ll always have unpredictable problems that just crank some folks so much it damages the relationship forever.

It happens.

And we’ll always see a very tiny percentage of strange customers who cannot ever be satisfied, because they’re nut jobs. Yes, some people are!

I came up through the ranks knowing that customer service can make or break a project; and a business.

Some businesses out there say “whatever”, and accept huge refund rates because they just don’t want to bother with good customer relations.

I don’t recommend that model. It’s a slippery slope all the way to bankruptcy.

Truly resilient success is built on having a killer product… supported by equally killer customer service.

The customer may not always be right… but that’s the right attitude to start out with when dealing with someone.

It’s a huge lesson. Great product, great service. Anything else just doesn’t make sense.

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14 Steps of Time Management for Retail Managers

Retail is Different When it Comes to (trying to) Manage Time

But, there are a few Tried, Tested and True Steps that can Make Your Life Easier

We left out things that do not apply to people who work in the field in retail and other service industries…those who cannot simply close the office door or get to the bottom of their inbox by working late!!

Here you go…

14 Time Management Steps for Success:

1.) Know what you’re doing — Make a list of all of the things you routinely take care of during a normal day/week/month and assign a number of minutes or hours to each one.

This exercise will draw your attention to things that are taking up too much of your valuable time.

Awareness of this will assist you in determining which activities can be stopped altogether, delegated or combined with other activities to save time.

2.) Take a look at your personal speed and energy level — People who get a lot done are moving fast most of the time. It’s difficult, in fact, to get them to slow down. If you’re not accustomed to it, try walking through a mall with a high achieving ‘go-getter’ of a District Manager and you’ll probably be out of breath in no time!

If you find that you’re moving a little on the slow side, try putting a bit more energy into everything you do. Move a little faster each day. This applies to getting things done as well as decision making. Perhaps you could try some comfy shoes and a smaller load in the briefcase.

3.) Define what’s important to you — Goals will include, but are not limited to, your top success factors. In any case, they need to be well defined so that you can clearly see what kind of time allotment and resources will be needed to reach them. Remember, we’re talking out YOUR goals — those things that move YOUR business forward.

4.) Prioritize– Any activity or task that will not move you closer to your achievement in your top success factors is not worthy of much of your time. Keep a log of what you are doing with your time for a couple of weeks and then review it to make sure that all of your time has, in fact, been spent on top success factors. (Refer to Step #1)

5.) Work with To Do Lists — Daily or weekly, nicely prepared or scribbled…a ‘to do’ list must be created. It must include only those things that you have deemed to be priorities based on your top success factors. Others may inadvertently influence your ‘to do’ list unless you are very careful. Just remember whose ‘to do’ list it is.

For some people, having a ‘to-do’ list is as natural as having their watch or their wallet! For others, it may seem like just one more thing they have to do. So…

Why is it important to use a to do list?

  • We can’t necessarily keep everything in our memory and, even if we could, why waste the brain space when you can jot it down on paper?
  • Seeing the list of things written down on paper helps you to prioritize.
  • Any possible duplication of effort can be seen at a glance.
  • You get the satisfaction of checking things off the list as they are accomplished.

6.) Consider and Plan everything as an Appointment — Make a plan for your day, week or month and create appointments. If you plan to do something at 9:30 a.m., and have determined that ‘activity’ requires a 45 minute appointment, then do it in the 45 minutes you have scheduled it for. Appointments/scheduled activities should have a start and finish time and should not be left open ended.

7.) Squeeze time allotments — Any activity, task, project or meeting can easily expand to use up all of the time allotted to it. For this reason, you should always schedule less time than you might have thought you required. Things tend to be handled more efficiently and effectively when a tighter time frame is in place.

8.) Organize everything that matters to you — In retail, particularly if you operate in a multi-unit environment, you must be highly organized. Finding out what’s happening at which store and who is leaving and who needs training, etc….is just a typical hour in a day…a drop in the bucket!

You need a system for reducing clutter (of your space and your mind) if you are to function at top effectiveness. If your work life is full of clutter, that clutter is probably preventing you from getting things done.

Make a point of regularly clearing out junk that you don’t need or use anymore. ‘Stuff’ should be thrown out if it is not useful to you. You should schedule ‘clutter removal’ as an appointment at least once a month.

9.) Delegate — Presumably you have competent people working for you so you should be able to delegate according to their particular strengths and availability. Even if you need to break a larger project down into smaller, more manageable pieces it will help you and it will help in development your people.

You’ll need to consider these things, among others depending on your situation, when deciding what to delegate:

  • If a bad decision is made regarding this issue — what is the impact? Is it easily reversed? Will it negatively affect others? Will it be expensive, for the company, to correct or reverse?

10.) Say “NO”- Although it’s not always possible, neither is it always impossible. You need to know how to determine what you should say “no” to. If someone asks you to take on a project or task that will not necessarily advance your cause — or contribute to your top success factors — then you need to start with “no”. If you find there is no alternative but to accept the project or task, then you need to look for items on your to do list that can be moved to another time slot or ‘appointment time’ or delegated.

11.) Remain flexible and reschedule often — You will need to allow for the unexpected. The idea of planning your work and working your plan is a very good one, but you still have to remain flexible. You have to be prepared to reschedule if the situation warrants it, as any business person does. That’s not to say that you should just roll with whatever is vying for your time, but once you identify the need, then it only makes sense to be flexible.

12.) Allow yourself some scheduled down time — It doesn’t sound right but it’s important. This is what will keep you going. We can’t have every minute of every day pinned down — sometimes we have to just enjoy some quiet time….whatever that means to you. Having no time when you can do ‘whatever’ you want leads to frustration due to lack of control over your life and time.

13.) Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can — if something is important to you and your success, but seems overwhelming just remember to take some action. Put one foot in front of the other and, eventually, you will likely get where you intend to be. That holds true for accomplishing big jobs, too.

  • Break big projects into smaller pieces.
  • Get help from others.
  • Good may be fine, and perfection not necessary.
  • Take steps toward the objective rather than putting it off until you have more TIME.

14.) Take good care of yourself — go to bed at a reasonable time, wake up early and take good care of your health.

Get to the store early!

Whether it’s your own store or one of a group of stores you manage, being there early gives you time to accomplish more by the time the store opens. The early bird gets the worm! The early riser gets more done while they are still energetic. It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve accomplished half of your to do list with so much of the day still in front of you. And, look at the great example you are setting.

As far as your health goes, we don’t profess to know enough about the human body and it’s nutritional requirements to provide advice on that topic.

Suffice to say you must take good care of your health if you want to operate at the top of your game and make the best use of all of your waking hours.

Eat a healthy diet, get some exercise, schedule your regular medical check-ups and generally… kind to yourself.

Finally, remember these important rules for managing your time in retail…

  • When determining how to spend your precious time, always keep your eyes on what you need to do to achieve YOUR Top Success Factors. In the final analysis, YOU are responsible for YOUR results and making claims that you were busy doing something else — busy contributing to the success of someone else — just won’t work…nor should it.
  • Head Office personnel often want you to attend to THEIR Top Success Factors so, although you want to be helpful and cooperative, be careful of what you accept and how you prioritize those things.
  • Don’t be caught saying “I’m going to be doing…” and, instead, use your time so wisely that you will be in a position to say “I am doing…”. That’s the difference between taking action and talking about taking action. Far too many people have great intentions to get something done…but never actually do. They talk at length about what they’re going to be doing, instead of doing.
  • The #1 use of your time is to develop successful leaders by a) removing obstacles to their success b) continuously and freely sharing information with them and c) regularly engage them in an open exchange of ideas.

There is a lot more insights at

Where Have All the Salespeople Gone?

Have you been approached by a real, live human salesperson lately?

For years, we’ve seen a steady decline in the amount of active selling going on in stores.

Even taking Covid 19 and social distancing out of the equation, in recent years human interaction hasn’t been what it was even in the early to mid 2000’s.

Greeting the customer, approaching, determining needs and all the rest of the tried and true ‘steps of selling’ seem to have gone by the wayside long before Covid 19 made it impossible to get anywhere near a customer.

Do you think we have to resign ourselves to that?

Once Covid 19 has been sufficiently squashed, do you think we’ll return to old ways with gusto …return to what used to be considered normal retailing…happy to be able to interact with our customers?

Hard to say, isn’t it?

We hear reports that retail traffic, in 2020, was down by close to 50% compared to 2019. That’s serious.

But, there is an upside.

If you look at it strictly from a numbers perspective, it simply means that retailers need to double the productivity of other KPIs.

Easier said than done, of course. What isn’t?

Too bad simple doesn’t mean easy.

For quite some time, many retailers have only required certain employees to engage with the customer; those in particular positions like cashiers, servers…the obvious ones.

Service models vary widely, as you have undoubtedly seen.

The superstores, the warehouse clubs, the discount stores and ‘brands for less’ type stores are all examples of no service on the floor or, simply, self — service.

They have merchandisers and shelf-stockers, front end supervisors, etc. but no sales associates who seek out customers to attend to them…to sell to them.

For retailers who allow the merchandise, the placement, visual effects, the brand image and all other things not human to do the suggestive selling, well…it’s going to be tough to double up on productivity.

Granted, depending on the merchandise or category, it can work very well.

Some of them do a great job moving multiple units per transaction with their ‘Buy 2 or 3 for $XX’ promos.

Some of those offers are good enough to make a customer feel like an idiot for buying just one.

Is that a good thing? It depends on your point of view.

In any case, special product deals are normal and expected when you are purchasing groceries and snacks, toiletries, etc.

But, they are no replacement for the right kind of human interaction when it comes to other merchandise like apparel, electronics, appliances, gifts and more…when purchasing decisions are more consequential.

Good people make the difference.

For retailers offering ‘human’ service to their customers, the sky is the limit!

Just think about it. Think about what retailers did not so many years ago.

Assisted by sophisticated systems and promotions and signage and advertising…the goods were sold by people.

Now, your problems are not going to be solved with average service provided by average employees.


We’re talking about the kind of service that is provided by well groomed, well informed, well trained sales associates who are genuine, enthusiastic, results driven and really good at what they do and who are supported by strong management.

With that in mind, you need to start thinking about your recovery plan.

If you are going to recover from this disaster that was certainly NOT of your own making, you’re going to need a plan.

That plan must include turning every one of your employees into a revenue generator. It’s just that simple.

Why wouldn’t you do that?

Here are some other pertinent questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What’s the best and fastest way to get huge increases in every Key Performance Indicator?
  • What are profit multipliers and how do they work?
  • How do I implement a Productivity Plan?
  • What resources do I need?
  • Where do I find these resources?

Everything you need is in the:

Ultimate Retail Success Collection

All the training you could want for your team is in the Ultimate Retail Success Collection.

We’ve just added new programs. Check it out here.

And…lest we forget…if you are facing a mandated increase in minimum wage rates, that’s not going to make things any easier.

If you can increase sales to cover the added expense, great. Otherwise…profit will be eroded.

We emphasize ‘minimum wage’ rates because higher wages that are mandated are very different than higher wages that are provided based on merit…based on performance expectations and results.

But, that’s a big discussion for another day.

Top Performance from Store Managers

Certainly avoid useless store visits…like the ‘Giddy Up’ visit!  


The Store Visit deserves way more attention than it gets from some Regional and District Managers….indeed, from some companies entire management team and executive.

One Regional Manager we know, constantly used the phrase ‘Giddy Up’.

It was annoying and it made it difficult to take her seriously.

She would show up, fly around the store and the mall with the Store Manager in tow…firing questions at everyone…barking out instructions on what to change and what to leave alone, speaking very fast all the while.

Whether she ever heard or registered a response, we don’t know.  
Learn about the 7 Stage Process.  See the details of the ‘MAX ROI Store Visits’ course here.  
At every change of subject …’Giddy Up’ she’d say.

Then, after a couple of hours and no accomplishments, ‘Giddy Up’ she’d say…time to go.

If you were a Store Manager who was flying below the radar, you would love this approach.

You’d be happily waving and saying “bye, bye, thanks for coming, great to see you”.

But, if you were serious about your position and trying to learn something or just get information from your superior, you would be very disappointed.

If you needed her to remove some obstacles for you or talk about your career path, sorry…you were out of luck.

We know retail is a fast-moving business and you have to be able to think, move and act fast if you want to be a success.

But there are times when calm, rational professionalism is called for and when you’re conducting a store visit, it’s one of those times.

‘Giddy Up’ just wasn’t appropriate.

If the business is to be sustained and improved, store visits should be conducted in a professional manner…not like you’re grabbing a bite at a fast food place!  

Retailers can’t lose sight of the fact that everyone needs to be on board and ready to sell more merchandise to more people, more often.

Anything that takes attention away from that goal needs to change.

Useless store visits do absolutely nothing to move the business forward and will likely be more detrimental than anything.

Store management and staff need professional guidance.

Now is the time to be creative and thoughtful, to be serious and focused, to be confident and ready to take risks.

There’s lots that you can do. There are plenty of options to choose from so go ahead and get started.   Airplane and words about Retail District Mgmt.  
LIVE & INTERACTIVE   Registered participants get the presentation deck and recording –  attend or not.   Click Here to Register for the DM Workshop Online  

Well, the very first thing you need to do is find out where you stand right now.

Store visits – serious, full visits, professional business meetings – need to take place in every store.

Managers and staff members must be on hand to provide feedback during meaningful discussions about anything and everything.

The District Management Workshop ONLINE is one great option for you. 
Another is the MAX ROI Store Visits Course.

Either way, we can help you go in with a plan and inspire your management and their teams. Make the future bright for them.

Start with a new store visit process and make it the standard.

Start with learning more about all aspects of your business and become a tremendous source of information, knowledge and motivation for your teams.  

Learn about the 7 Stage Process.  See the details of the ‘MAX ROI Store Visits’ course here.  

Place your order for the course:   Digital – Delivered to your inbox immediately!   Physical – Shipped at no extra charge!  

If you still have questions or require more information about courses, books, workshops or webinars, or any other product or offering, please don’t hesitate to send an email to Josephine Hill:
jhill @  

Relationship Selling in Retail


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.


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 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 ( 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 –
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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’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
DMSRetail logo   If you still have questions or require more information about workshops or webinars, or any other product or offering, please don’t hesitate to send an email to Josephine Hill:
jhill @

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

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