The Biggest Difficulty in Managing Multiple Store Locations Is…

By Brian Harris

You’ve heard the phrase “fake it till you make it.” It’s the idea that in order to be successful, you must exude confidence, even if things are falling apart behind the scenes. It’s like putting up a sign that says “please pardon our appearance” while you renovate. Your customers don’t see the mess and your retail operation marches onward.

Unfortunately, “faking it” doesn’t work when communicating with your employees. If they know you’re not engaged in their activities, they become disenfranchised. Bad morale eventually hurts customer service, and when customer service falters, so does your brand.

Communication is the biggest difficulty in managing multiple store locations.

Fact: If you’re struggling to manage your retail network or franchise, you have a communication problem.

  • Vendors didn’t send the right products or promotions? Communication problem.
  • Employees not cleaning up in the store? Communication problem.
  • Store planogram is a disaster? Communication problem.

You get the idea.

Don’t take the approach that says, “What am I paying these people for?” It’s too easy to pass the blame onto your managers without asking what you could be doing better.

Maybe you’ve recently expanded to more locations, or maybe your company is scaling back growth due to stagnant sales. William J. McEwen, author of “Married to the Brand,” writes, “The company must recognize that its stores aren’t merely distribution centers; they are in fact brand centers. And they are crucial to delivering on the company’s brand promise, whether the total number of stores is expanding or contracting.”

Regardless of your current situation, how can you improve store operations?

Communicate Spontaneously

Think of your organization like it’s your family. Imagine if you only talked to your spouse or called a parent during a scheduled timeslot. What would that do to your relationships? It would undoubtedly cause negativity and tension.

Remove barriers to communication

Encourage employees to report problems in real time. Document issues digitally, and keep everyone in your organization engaged.

Let’s look at those communication problems again, this time with real-time solutions:

  • Vendors didn’t send the right products or promotions? Scan a barcode or take a photo with GPS and time stamp. Notify vendor of the problem in real time.
  • Employees not cleaning up in store? Document the issue. Take photos as visual evidence. If a store is a “repeat offender,” have managers address individual problems as needed.
  • Store planogram is a disaster? Upload latest version of planogram and share with staff. If there’s a problem with SKU or promotion placement, take a photo. Share and comment to resolve.

See also
How to Simplify Franchise Management
Why Regularly Inspecting Your Franchise is Important

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