Seven things store managers should do now to be ready for Christmas

Discussion
Photo: RetailWire
Oct 22, 2019
Kevin Graff

Through a special arrangement, what follows is an article from the blog of Graff Retail.

Store managers wear a lot of hats and sometimes, despite best laid plans, their day will go off the rails. A focus on implementing a few best practices now, however, can ensure a store’s team is optimally prepared for Christmas selling.

  1. Start conducting shift starter meetings: Short, high impact meetings or one-on-one conversations at the beginning of each shift are the best opportunity each day to coach your staff and get better results. Topics may run from defining expectations and goals to providing feedback on performance, informing about promotions and new products and recognizing top performance.
  2. Walk the store with team every day: Discuss new products and new product placement, point out any standards issues that might need attention throughout the day, identify items that are sold out or are low in inventory and, if there’s time, choose a few hot items and get your staff to “sell” them to you to keep them on their selling toes.
  3. Start talking it up: Selling has to be talked about — goals for total sales and key metrics like average sale, items per sale and conversion rates. Don’t forget to coach the sales behaviors behind these metrics. 
  4. Know you’re only as good as your team: In my days as store manager, the more developed and cross-trained my staff was, the better my store performed and it always reflected back positively on my own individual performance. 
  5. Don’t try to do it all yourself: Once you buy into continually training and coaching your staff, start to delegate with confidence. Trust your staff and don’t end up with an un-promotable team.
  6. Don’t be afraid of conflict: An associate repeatedly coming in late? Not dressed appropriately? Staff bickering? Seemingly little issues can stress out management and certainly get in the way of productivity. Learn how to have these difficult conversations with your staff and don’t procrastinate.
  7. Selling stuff is your #1 priority: A retail store is only successful because of sales, so a manager that knows this and maximizes every selling opportunity in his/her store will always be successful. 

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What suggestions would you have for store managers on establishing a strong selling culture ahead of the Christmas season? Which of the tips in the article for supporting the manager’s role is not stressed enough?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Even with a great sales team, a store needs a stellar appearance, welcoming environment, and great product selection."
"Number 4 stands out by injecting camaraderie to create a strong selling culture focused on serving shoppers through a collaborative (vs. competitive) approach."
"Short shift starter meetings can have an impact if pertinent information is conveyed and the meetings are kept short."

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19 Comments on "Seven things store managers should do now to be ready for Christmas"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Great suggestions, and I would add that store managers need to be situational based on the traffic in the store. Use traffic volume to drive the schedule and activity, not heuristics like Sally always goes for lunch at noon. Also, focus on transaction processing – get holiday shoppers in and out of your store efficiently. Checkout line ups can be a conversion killer – even during the holiday season – so managers need to keep the checkout lines moving. Even if you’re overrun with shoppers, managing the checkout line will let shoppers know that you’re doing the best you can and will often have more patience. And lastly, have fun! It’s a crazy time, make the most of it.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

I’d take advantage of the “shift starter” meetings by recognizing employees who have done a great job; both in sales and customer service. Teach by sharing examples from fellow employees.

Jeffrey McNulty
BrainTrust

I completely agree with you, Shep. True servant leaders understand to continue to recognize and reward their employees even during the holiday season. Positive feedback creates an environment where employees feel valued and appreciated.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

As Kevin’s U.S. counterpart, these are all smart. I’d make #7 into #1 – your job is to sell. Anything that gets in the way of that will cost you. Oh and #8 – never let your manager run the cash wrap, it’s a complete waste of payroll. Their job is to stay up in the blimp looking down on the game and moving people as necessary.

Jeffrey McNulty
BrainTrust

You are spot on with your #8 comment of never having your store manager running a register. I have worked for numerous retailers who feel this strategy sets the tone for a “leading by example” mentality. It usually backfires because there is only one store manager and their responsibility is to manage, communicate, delegate, and follow up on the store protocols.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Great points in the article. I still believe point #2 “Walk the store…” is the most critical. Stay on the floor the majority of the time. Go into the backroom only as truly needed. Be on the floor to see needs as they arise.

Jeffrey McNulty
BrainTrust

I completely agree with you, Ralph. Walking the entire store daily will allow for any issues to be addressed expeditiously.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Great point!

Meaghan Brophy
BrainTrust

These are all good tips. I would take the suggestion of shift starter meetings – which every store should absolutely do – a step further and recommend that store managers get in the habit of providing one-on-one coaching for employees throughout the day. Developing those practices of role-playing sales situations now will make the process much more natural during the holiday season, instead of an added stressor. Plus, having those individual coaching sessions ahead of the holidays will help employees gain the confidence, feedback, and sales skills that will make them successful once the Christmas season starts. I would also add that even with a great sales team, a store needs a stellar appearance, welcoming environment, and great product selection.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

The choices were all excellent suggestions. The management team needs to be visible. They need to be with their staff several times daily. The staff needs to know they are being supported and management has their back. Many retailers are hiring additional part timers for the holiday season. Those new hires need to be trained and integrated with others who will be able to assist them through the learning curve.

Mark Price
BrainTrust

While sales must be the highest priority, a “selling” focus can lead to a customer experience that drives prospects and even past customers out of the store. Associates need to deliver outstanding service and support first. Service and support drives trust which leads to cross-sell and increased UPT and total revenue.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I would hope these would be good rules 365 days a year, not just at the holiday season. In fact, there isn’t anything on this list that great managers aren’t already doing. A great sales culture transcends seasons, so this list sort of strikes me as Management Theory 101. Oddly missing from the list are holiday-specific issues such as screening seasonal hires, balancing out labor schedules for competency on the floor and not just bodies, training and educating temporary staff members, teaching and modeling great customer service, selecting training peers for new hires, etc. To me those are pretty big omissions.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Wise points. Number 4 stands out by injecting camaraderie to create a strong selling culture focused on serving shoppers through a collaborative (vs. competitive) approach.

Acting as a unified team to help customers sets a more positive tone than smashing individual sales targets.

For instance, working as a team can spark store associates’ creativity, such as creating pre-wrapped seasonal bundles that fill the store with attractive, timely solutions that save consumers time and make them more likely to buy during this critical sales period.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

Four quick comments:

  1. Great list to start with.
  2. This should be happening every day all year long.
  3. Only allow A-level players on your team.
  4. It is not about selling every customer. It is about servicing every customer. (TAKE CARE OF THE CUSTOMER.)
Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

Short shift starter meetings can have an impact if pertinent information is conveyed and the meetings are kept short. Metrics can be useful if they are measuring the performance you want and are transparent to employees. Training, monitoring, and rewarding desired behavior are always helpful. More communication is necessary at this time of the year when lots of new employees are often hired.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Sometimes we need a reason to walk into a store. Many years ago Filene’s, a Boston department store, featured a roof top zoo. At Christmas time, people would travel to see their window displays and celebrity guests. This store clothed and entertained generations of families.

There is now a return to this type of “experiential retail” according to Forbes. Eataly, a marketplace for Italian foods and products, offers cooking classes, wine sampling, restaurants and product demonstrations to provide an engaging experience. Few people leave without buying, eating or drinking.

At Christmas time it is especially important to provide an entertaining alternative to the sometimes sterile online shopping experience.

RICHARD HERNANDEZ
Guest

All the suggestions above are very good, but I truly believe it starts at the top and trickles down to the stores. Corp merchants, buyers, category managers and the like should make themselves available to do store visits. Unfortunately, too many think an email or a Powerpoint will explain expectations. I am a big believer that you need to inspect what you expect from store operations. Putting a face to what you expect speaks volumes and ensures better execution of corporate objectives.

Howard Radford
Guest

I’d suggest to never become complacent. Many managers may begin to feel they’ve done enough and anything more may not be necessary to get stellar results, but often when you become complacent problems will arise, and you may not be able to recover from the problem as you would have had you not become complacent.

Jeffrey McNulty
BrainTrust
I really resonated with Kevin Graff’s article. The holiday transition should encompass advanced planning. Hopefully, each store manager will receive detailed instructions from their corporate office instead of having to wing it, which is where decreased sell-through of merchandise and diminished revenue occur. Expectantly, each store manager should have informative guidelines from last season on the major successes and pitfalls to appropriately guide them. During these seasonal transitions, it can be a stressful time for the associates and the customers. A strong leadership team will have a “critical path” to follow with deadlines for each planogram while not exposing the customer to major disruption (within reason) for their regular shopping needs. Staffing levels must be accounted for and any deficiencies addressed expeditiously. I agree with Bob Phibbs about never having your store manager running a register. This type of strategy can backfire. You only have one store manager and their job is to ensure that the necessary service levels are being executed appropriately. Communication through the morning, midday, and evening huddles are extremely paramount (especially… Read more »
wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Even with a great sales team, a store needs a stellar appearance, welcoming environment, and great product selection."
"Number 4 stands out by injecting camaraderie to create a strong selling culture focused on serving shoppers through a collaborative (vs. competitive) approach."
"Short shift starter meetings can have an impact if pertinent information is conveyed and the meetings are kept short."

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