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Like A Fine-Tuned Machine

Last week I had a chance to spend five days out on the sales floor of one of our favourite retailers.  I wasn’t selling or servicing customers, if that’s what you’re thinking.  The Graff Team was invited to produce a custom training video, so naturally, we used the actual store as the backdrop for the video.  But, I’m not here to talk about the amazing video we were producing.  I’m more excited to dish on my observations from the sales floor. 

I have to say, I’ve been in retail for over 25 years and it’s been a while since I’ve seen a store run so well.  The trade secrets I’m about to share are not-so-secret.  These are the basics that are so easily forgotten.  But, it’s these basics that will ensure your store runs like a fine-tuned machine…and let me tell you, this store ran like a fine-tuned machine! 

1.       The Management Team Leads by Example

No “backroom managers” at this store!  Every day, the leadership was out on the floor talking to customers, “directing traffic” and supporting their team.  They weren’t cozied up in the backroom.  I saw managers joining their staff in tasks, working with customers and doing on-the-floor coaching with their team members…every day like clockwork.  This set the tone for the store and was a very strong part of their culture.  

2.       The Store was Pristine

When our production team arrived a day ahead of schedule to scout locations in the store, their feedback said it all.  Our cameraman thought for sure the store was brand new; set to open the next day.  That’s how great the store looked!  Asides from general housekeeping, the shelves were replenished, signage was perfect, and every item on every shelf was front faced.  Of course, we had asked that the store be prepared for the shoot, but when I complimented the Store Manager on just how fantastic the store looked, his response was “Thank you, but this is the way it always looks so we are always ready for our guests!” 

3.       Everyone Took Ownership

One of the more rare things I noticed was how everyone on the team took ownership over their area of the store.  Everyone knew their role and played it so well.  It felt like a family-run business, but on a bigger scale.  It was as though everyone had a personal investment in the store and took pride in even the smallest of tasks.  If you can achieve this type of culture and attitude amongst your team, I believe the rest will just fall into place. 

4.       Cashiers Greeted Everyone

The check-out area was at the front of the store.  This is a typical layout in a store with a larger footprint.  It’s common to see the cashier team busied by just clerking customers through the till and the idea of greeting customers entering the store isn’t even on their radar.  Not here.  The cashier team greeted everyone, every day…including our team, without fail.  This was actually amazing to witness. 

5.       The Staff Was Genuinely Happy

I had the pleasure of speaking to the majority of the team during our visit last week.  Whether chatting with them on their break in the backroom or asking questions to gain some insights on our video project while out on the sales floor, this team was actually happy.  You could tell they were happy to be at work.  When we’re on location like this, inevitably we get to know the staff as the week unravels.  Sometimes, guards come down and the “truths” come out about how they feel about their jobs, their tasks, or even their leadership.  This team had only positive feedback across the board.  For me, this was quite telling.  This is a tell-tale sign of a retailer who knows what they are doing! 

It was a true pleasure to see this retail team in action.  I’m thankful to be reminded of the simple things that make for a winning retail environment.  So, if you have forgotten what it takes to run your store like a fine-tuned machine, look at these five areas and work on getting back to the basics!  

Blog Authors: Mary & Kim

Mary GordonKim McCutcheon

Mary Gordon and Kim McCutcheon have been supporting retail front lines for as long as they can remember. A dynamic duo, Mary and Kim understand what it takes to make training work at store level and know how to inspire, coach and support retail teams in all of their training endeavours.

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