This is Part 3 of a 3-Part series about what convenience store, restaurant, and retail operators should start thinking about when planning for the New Year. Read Part 1, Incorporating Mobile Devices Into Your Operations and Part 2, Say Goodbye to Paper Forms.
2018 should be the year you empower, not punish, your employees for using mobile technology. Many organizations have had a negative attitude about the use of mobile technology in the workplace. That’s because up until this point, many people—managers and their employees alike—have only had mobile technology for personal use. They’ve looked at smartphones as a distraction rather than as a resource, because there was previously no business applications for the smart devices.
However, more often than not, your employees are using their smartphones as a resource when they’re away from work. Whether they’re used to share photos with friends, look up directions, or simply communicate via text, smartphones aren’t just a distraction from life, but a necessary tool to navigate it. At some point, we’ve all had the thought, “I can’t even remember life without my smartphone!” That same attitude can and should apply to store operations because mobile devices and software are powerful tools that can collect valuable data and identify problems.
So what would happen if, in 2018, you adopt mobile technology that allows store employees to report store conditions to senior level managers in real time? Think of a mobile app as the employee version of Kwik Trip’s bathroom hotline. If you don’t know the backstory, the company CEO Don Zietlow posts his name and a special hotline number so that customers can report restroom complaints. It’s an initiative of accountability and also a bit of clever marketing that has earned the retailer national attention.
Now, imagine if regional managers were able to report conditions in real time and instead of calling a hotline, they enter the information into a mobile form through Zenput’s app. Zenput makes it possible for senior level managers to set up and receive notifications anytime store conditions fall below certain parameters. The digital forms also make it possible to request photos and video as visual confirmation of store conditions. Now there’s documentation of the overflowing trash bin or the empty soap dispenser, and a directive to the store manager to resolve the problem. In fact, the task remains open until it’s resolved.
Audits for safety and cleanliness get even more crucial beyond the bathroom, like in the kitchen where there may be a faulty appliance that needs maintenance, or on the store floor, where a frustrated manager hasn’t yet received their latest promotional materials.
In an industry of notoriously high turnover, companies stand to benefit by implementing a different approach to employee communication. Involving your employees in the store auditing process will make them feel seen and heard because their store-level observations are informing top-level decisions. They will experience first-hand the impact of their participation. What’s more empowering than that?