Updated: May 21
How shining lights in dark corners will highlight and raise awareness of hidden opportunities
Having been on the front line in sales and operations for over 35 years, there is not much that I have not been involved in. I have always been keen to get my hands dirty and for those who I have worked with, will relish a challenge.
Retail is Detail: -
I was asked by a sales territory area manager to visit a new store opening in his patch in California. It was quite an event which involved an entire retail extension opening, so many stores where launching at the same time. It involved a long flight from the UK and a few days there due to the planned events.
During one of the evenings the Area Manager mention that he was in fact very nervous of this new store performing, as he had recently opened a store in a Mall 9 months previously and the sales where 40% down on sales forecast / plan and he was getting some grief from his boss.
Now this to me is a bit odd and to be so far off plan, whilst these numbers are guesstimates, they are based on like for like stores etc! He said he was baffled, the store manager had 7 years experience in the company, he had visited several times, the store looked great, but the sales where just not coming through.
As I was in the country already, I offered to go over to the store and take a look around with a new set of eyes and ears. He jumped at the chance, so I headed over after the launch!
He was right! The mall was buzzing with shoppers and there was plenty of shopping bags. Noticing the shopping bags gives a clue to shoppers spending. The store manager walked me through the store, the teams product knowledge was OK, but not that great for the permium product that we sold, as we listened into a couple of sales, but nothing as serious to flag such a poor performing store. We had a meeting with the Mall Marketing team, they suggested a few things, but again nothing that answered the problem. The store was really busy and the staff appeared to be engaging customers, so what was the problem?
As some-one once said...seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.
Hang around a bit to observe more! Speak to the team, ALL the team and speak to a customer or two. See the operation in progress! Calibrate the situation, by which I mean see what happens normally and how the team behave, how the sales process works, how shoppers are browsing, buying etc.
Reframe what you think you know!
Yes a new set of eyes and ears are useful! Not for knowing the answers, but to ask the right questions that will raise awareness in the team to find their own answers.
In this store, they did not measure footfall, so all the questions I asked around footfall, conversion and average basket size, they had no idea. They just knew they where down on plan and the area manager was being inrealistic in sales..interesting!
So who where their core customer? They highlighted 30% of them, we could tell that from those shopper in the store there and then! But what about the other 70% of those in the store they didn't mention!
I noted that there was a large volume of shoppers speaking spanish and I did NOT hear and of the team speaking spanish, I asked how many of their team spoke Spanish? None was the reply! I was stunned! 50% of the customers in the store were Spanish first language speakers...."But they are tourists" came the reply from the store manager "and they never spend anything"....mmmm!! I wonder why?
What do you think as the reader of this blog?
Guess what...they where back on plan by the end of the financial year!
Many thanks to Lynne for leaving her store in the UK and spending 3 months bringing the store back to plan!