Do You Have the Time?

Some of us always seem to be short of time. Are you? 


Management Newsletter

There are a lot of people – in various industries – who just can’t use the standard time management techniques that are out there. And retail is certainly one of those industries.

To a limited extent, Retail Manager’s at Head Office level can use standard time management techniques but, even still, if they are in the field as often as they should be, they will not be able to operate at peak effectiveness by following those techniques.

Consider some of the obvious differences:

  • Retail stores are open to the public for many hours each day and most days of the week. Some are 24/7. Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 simply doesn’t exist in the retail world.
  • We can’t get to the bottom of the inbox by simply by working late.
  • There’s rarely an office door for Retail Manager’s to close.
  • There isn’t a ‘do not disturb’ function on the phone. Even if there was, you can’t use it. Customers may be calling.
  • Retail Managers don’t have the luxury of planning every moment of their time.
  • We need to drop everything when the customer arrives and their precise time of arrival cannot be predicted!
  • The workload can vary dramatically depending on how many customers arrive at the same time.
  • When shipments are early or late…schedules and plans become useless.
  • Stores are staffed by people working shifts so things are always changing. Who will be where, when?
  • Each function being performed in a store is usually being handled by more than one person, in most cases.
  • Communication between team members is more complicated due to the nature of the business.

In retail, particularly in DM and RM positions, we need to work differently when it comes to managing our time. We need to learn how to manage our time using some best practices in a somewhat uncontrolled environment.

Primary Success Factors

To even begin the process, the first thing retailers need to do is ask “What does success look like?”. We need to know what it looks like in order to identify the success factors that we need to deal with in the time we have available to us.

If success, in your position, means meeting sales and profit targets and maintaining a reputation for excellence in customer service, then some of your success factors would be:

  • Generating sales
  • Reducing expenses
  • Succession planning

Of course, there are many more.

Once we are aware of our primary success factors, we can begin to plan the time and actions necessary to achieve them.

For example, meeting sales targets is a primary success factor so we need to make our plans with that in a high priority spot. Always.

For example, you probably already clear a spot at the beginning of each day to review results and talk to people about the results or take required actions. Of course, that’s just one of the things that must be planned for this particular success factor. 

There are many, many other things that will demand your attention; things that need to be done to actually make sales happen.

If succession planning is a top success factor, that needs to get a high priority spot also. That may mean regular follow up with Human Resources and Store Management personnel to find out how the succession plan looks and where the holes are, if any.

It may require allocating time for interviews, or training, etc.

And so on, and so on, with all of your primary success factors.

When you place a high priority on certain success factors, and you review and follow up with subordinates on that basis, it leads to alignment; common goals – all necessary for success. 

You don’t waste time on trivial issues – you are getting straight to the issues that affect your primary success factors and the majority of your time will be spent on things that will affect those outcomes.

Of course, you will still have to deal with many other things that indirectly affect your top success factors. And that covers pretty much everything else that goes on in the organization. But serious focus on primary success factors is the best way to succeed.

Here are Just 3 Time Management Tips to Help you be Successful;

  • Your Agenda – Whenever you spend time in your office make sure you do the things on your own to do list…not someone else’s. Your office time is likely only a small percentage of the number of hours you work each week and you need to make the most of it.
  • Sales – Check your sales results and relevant KPI’s as soon as you get the reports each day and make those important phone calls right away. Always start with where you are going to get the biggest bang for the buck…or where your valuable time is most well spent. Wherever you are it is important to keep a close eye on the sales made by each business unit (store, district, region, chain…whatever the case). You should have no higher priority than reviewing sales and taking whatever action might be necessary to increase them.
  • Training – Invest time in training your people at every opportunity. Time spent on training, whether formal, informal or simply sharing information that will benefit others and help them to develop and become more competent, will save you countless hours going forward. Great leaders spare no effort in surrounding themselves with supremely competent people, and people with lots of potential. Everyone benefits from the transfer of knowledge – you, your people, your customers, your suppliers. It helps to keep everyone on the same page, and pulling in the same direction for the benefit of the business.

In retail operations, the business of serving customers and making sales is happening in stores, not in offices. However, there are many things to be handled that require you to be in an office environment. 

When you are in an office, then you have the same time savers available to you as many other people like forwarding your phone to an assistant, closing the door to signal that you are not available for chats, etc. Make the very best use of this time because there isn’t very much of it!

We have a 14 step time management process and we’ll get that to you another day. Stay tuned! It’s also included in the Ultimate Retail Success Collection.

Until next time…

All the Success!


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