How a Major C-store Retailer Used Zenput to Unlock Hidden Potential

By Scott Hill

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Communication and time efficiency. They can set your organization apart from the competition, or they can prove to be your Achilles’ heel.

How much does your organization value communication?

An equally important question: How much do you value your organization’s time?

Many organizations settle into processes where they accept the status quo of their operations. “Well, it’s always taken this long to verify a promotion, so this is the way it has to be. Thanks in advance for your patience!”

In our experience, so many organizations fail to realize that they don’t have to settle. Cost-cutting and revenue-driving opportunities are achievable now just by making a few simple changes in the way you utilize your existing mobile technology.

Mapco Inc. valued communication and time efficiency enough to change how they used their existing network. It was a significant, yet manageable, change for a convenience store organization with 375 locations spanning eight states.

Before Zenput, it took too long for Mapco’s senior management team to get actionable answers from store-level managers. That was the central communication problem. Executing a routine task, such as rolling out a new product or promotion, would take an average of two to four weeks. The delay in gaining actionable insights was Mapco’s time problem.

Once Zenput was implemented, the missing data was no longer a problem. Mapco slashed operations costs and expanded the platform’s use throughout the organization, from district managers down to store-level managers. As a result, the time it took to gain actionable insights steadily improved.

Instead of waiting for district managers to visit stores, Mapco gave its store managers access to Zenput through their mobile devices. The result was 100 percent compliance in as little as two days.

Notably, Mapco did not have to order new mobile devices for their employees, nor did they have to engage in time-consuming training programs. Zenput’s platform was nimble and easy to use, and provided a centralized place to prioritize the tasks at hand.

Topics: How to be Successful with Zenput, C-store

3 Lessons from Managing Partner and Vendor Relationships

By Julia Burnett

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Recently, I was reading up on vendor management best practices when I came across this passage about selecting the right vendor. “The vendor selection process can be a very complicated and emotional undertaking if you don’t know how to approach it from the very start,” the author wrote.

I was intrigued by the “emotional undertaking” aspect of negotiations. Dealing with various partners to reach an end goal can be highly rewarding, yet exhausting. You know the saying “it’s not personal – it’s just business!” Well, we’re all human. Success and failure in our business can most definitely feel like our personal success and failure.

It’s especially frustrating when a partner doesn’t hold up their end of an agreement, negotiations sour, and a business relationship ends. You may be quick to condemn the other party out of frustration, but there are always two sides to every story.

Have you ever asked yourself: Could I have done anything better to communicate problems before they reached the point of no return?

Working at Zenput provides me a unique experience. On one hand, we provide a service to our customers and in a way, act as a vendor. On the other hand, many of our partners are retailers looking for ways to improve vendor management with companies that deliver tangible goods. Since I see both sides of the equation, I want to share some practical advice for maintaining good relationships with vendors:

1. Communicate with Vendors From the Start

When I enter into a new agreement with a customer, whether it’s a retailer, a restaurant chain or a distributor, I want them to explain their business goals clearly from the start. I know customer service is important to any company, but if I can understand how they want to improve their business, I can better execute our strategy.

At Zenput, we also encourage our partners to communicate their expectations with vendors delivering good and services. Of course, it’s always recommended to put the finer points of the contract in writing.

2. Vendors are Not Mind Readers

If only we had this ability! Zenput relies on our partners to tell us how we can better meet their needs and improve our service. Similarly, we encourage our customers to notify their vendors of exceptions in real time. If there’s an issue affecting contractual obligations, retailers can provide visual evidence and resolve the issue in an up-front and efficient manner.

3. Request Progress Reports from Vendors

Vendors and customers rely on each other to reach their goals. With Zenput, our customers have options to change the way data is collected and presented to them, which is the chief advantage of a flexible platform. Similarly, a retailer’s vendors and partners can collect data on your behalf, and you can control their account access and privileges.

The purpose of these custom reports goes back to point No 2. You want to identify and address issues as they arise and before they impact your business.

Remember: Neither side of the vendor/customer relationship likes to be blindsided with complaints. Communicate consistently and give your vendor a reasonable chance to resolve issues that may arise.

Topics: How to be Successful with Zenput, Business Operations

10 Ways to Use Mobile Forms In Retail Stores

By Brian Harris

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1. Vendor Relations

  • Maintain positive relations with your vendors by abiding by your contracts.
  • See that your vendors’ products are displayed according to the contract.
  • Pass on exceptions in real-time to vendors.

2. Asset Surveys

  • Regularly implement asset surveys to keep track of new soda machines, roller grills, and other important assets inside your stores.
  • Ensure that important items have been delivered and properly set up.

3. Capture Best Practices

  • Implement best practices by identifying exceptional aspects of a particular store’s operation and applying those practices across all locations.
  • Share best practices in real-time within your organization.

4. Cleanliness

  • Ensure your stores are meeting the standards of your organization.
  • Take pictures of areas that need addressing.
  • Use historical tracking & trending to see what stores are consistently performing well and which stores need addressing.

5. Price Accuracy

  • Track pricing execution in real-time.
  • Track rollout of promotional pricing across the country.

6. Maintenance Management

  • Identify and notify responsibilities parties of maintenance issue.
  • Use photos to capture issues for team members.
  • Lower unnecessary travel to stores by accurately communicating issue at hand.

7. Food Safety

  • Maintain the safety of food prepared on location.
  • Take temperatures of heated/cooled products.
  • Check that food preparation stations are clean and sanitary.

8. Location Appearance

  • Attract customers by presenting your locations well.
  • Capture photos for problems like graffiti, unkept lawns, and dirty storefronts.

9. Brand Standards

  • Maintain a high brand standard by ensuring that locations positively present your brand.
  • Make sure employees’ performance is up to standard, brand signs are properly displayed, and brand products are of good quality.

10. Workspace Safety

  • Ensure workplace safety guidelines are being followed.
  • Walkways maintained, Emergency exits clearly identified, and Anti-slip mats and flooring used where appropriate.

Topics: How to be Successful with Zenput

Eyes on Efficiency: Tips on How to Really Look at your Retail Store

By Julia Burnett

Have you ever caught yourself wishing you had eyes in the back of your head? Or perhaps that you had spies to tell you how your retail space is doing? Yeah, we’ve all been there.

You want to make sure that your retail spaces are being run properly but you can’t possibly be at all places at once. Our view is that you shouldn’t be. Rather you can save time and promote efficiency if you create the “right” form to properly survey your retail spaces. In this blog post we are going to layout three tips for creating a retail form.

1) Use the Right Building Blocks
To start, make your form structurally sound. Making sure your form is structurally sound means that it is both organized and you use a lot of quantitative questions.Organization keeps your people efficient, and allows you gather data quickly. Think about it, if you have a bunch of questions about the exterior of your retail space and then another group all about the interior of your store, keep them separate. Organize the questions so your form submitters and can follow a natural and efficient flow.

Quantitative questions give you measurable and comparable data. This gives a concrete way to track your retail space. How many window displays are there? How many facings of X brand are on the display? These are questions that you can measure and consistently track time after time.

2) Use your Eyes
Do you want to see that a display is set up properly or that your backroom is organized and up to your standards? Of course you do! All you need to do is include photos in your form. Photos are easiest and quickest way for your people to show you that your retail space looks and is operating as it should.

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3) Set a Routine
Creating a form chock-full of organized quantitative questions and photos is all good and well but if your people aren’t filling it out, then it’s rather useless. Set up a clear routine for your people. Let them know the frequency and time that you would like the form submissions every week. This keeps them accountable and makes it easier for you to collect timely and consistent data.

Topics: How to be Successful with Zenput

5 Tips on How to Ask Better Questions

By Julia Burnett

Here at Zenput we often get asked about data, and we should, it’s our business. The majority of questions, though, tend to boil down to how do we get more meaningful data? In our experience we’ve found that to get better data you simply need to start asking better questions. In this blog post we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 tips to help you start asking questions like a B-O-S-S.

1) What is the goal?

Asking questions just to ask questions is a waste of time. Let’s face it, we’re all getting too old to be wasting time. So to start, think of the reasons WHY you are asking these questions. What data do you want to collect, analyze and share?

2) Types of Questions
We are firm believers that your questions should be structured. Structured questions generate structured responses. To do this use quantitative questions. These include multiple choice, rating, yes/no, checkbox, and number questions.

Asking quantitative questions help you collect accurate and concise data. You will not need to read through and try and guess as to what someone’s written response means. Structured questions are easy to graph and analyze.

Now on to qualitative questions. These types of questions include text/short answer, photos and videos.

As far as qualitative questions go, our favorites have to be photos and videos. Do you want to see if the shelf is stocked, how clean the bathroom is, and if your brand is well-represented? Of course you do! Photos and videos are the quickest way for you to get an accurate story about your business.

So when trying to decide what kind of questions to use, we recommend that you use a good blend of the two question types. Use the quantitative questions for the hard facts (yay graphs!) and then the qualitative questions to back up those facts.

3) Short.
Keep it short. You want your users to be able to answer the questions efficiently and get back to doing their job. Keep your questions specific, pointed, and focused on the data that you want to gather.

4) Keep it Simple
Firstly, be organized. Group your questions by topic or task. So for example, if you have a group of questions that involve the exterior of the store and then a group about the interior of the store, group them accordingly. You don’t want the people walking inside, outside, then inside again. Keep it efficient!

Secondly, don’t ask a “two-fer” (two for one). A two-fer is when you jam multiple questions into one. This not only gets wordy and confusing, but it will make your data skewed. Just keep it simple.

5) Question the Questions
You’ve asked the questions, now evaluate the data! Are you gathering the data you specified in your goal? If not, adjust your questions accordingly.

Asking the hard-hitting, data-gathering, really kick-butt questions takes time and practice but we know you can master it! Just remember have a goal, use the right question type, and keep it short, organized and simple.

 

 

Topics: How to be Successful with Zenput