May 25, 2023
Managers forget the numbers to fix problems. A store manager cannot make a customer buy anything. They can only address how the store operates. The key is store manager problem solving. They must manage staffing, stocking, inventory, finances, cleanliness, preparation and how the store operates. Their work directly influences the customer experience.
Before they fix a problem, however, managers need numbers to see the problems quickly. They obviously cannot control the numbers, yet the numbers show the trends. Having the ability to see how the store is performing demands not only numbers, but numbers in context of the stores past results. Context with numbers is increased with historical trends based on the day of the week, the season and same store comparisons. Ironically, however, once the problems are found the numbers have served their purpose for problem solving – identification. As such, in fixing the problem we can forget about the goals and instead focus our work on the things we can control.
Problem Solving Comes After Problem Identification
The solution, however, demands the source. Once the problem is known, such as low beer sales, then the analysis can be focused on a specific issue. Focusing simplifies problem solving. Is it a stocking, pricing, retailing or overall competitive issue?. Experienced retailers can solve almost any problem. The key is know which problems to address. Even better, to know which ones to fix first. It is so hectic in c-stores, setting the store manager priorities is very helpful to their ability to succeed.
Numbers Show the Trends
Stores are valued based on sales, first and foremost. Naturally, the sales numbers are essential and should be reviewed frequently. They let us know where we stand. Store sales scorecards can quickly show the status and even a grade to show if we are improving or not.
However, once the status is known, the numbers have served their problem-solving purpose and the management work changes from identification to analysis. That is, knowing where the problems lie, allows for the problem’s source issue to be pinpointed. With the problems in the context of how much they are impacting the overall store performance, it is simpler to know which problems need the most attention.
Managers Forget the Numbers to Fix Problems
The irony of the solution is that the numbers no longer matter to implement the fix. Of course, the end result matters and the numbers show the trends that prove the solution works long-term. Having solid trends, provides the long-term perspective and accurate comparisons that prove that solutions are working over time. That is, they are not just simply coincidental results based on short terms issues like weather, constructions or things outside of the control of the manager.
As a secondary benefit to the problem solving, the objectivity provided by the numbers reduce the subjective nature or personalizing (e.g., blaming) that can so easily occur when analyzing problems. By using the facts, it is easier to see the situation separated from the staff. The objective analysis better allows for the attention to be directed towards the fix rather than towards a person. Mistakes and problems are normal, putting the effort into solutions, builds teamwork. Of course, success and problem-solving also makes the job more satisfying. Naturally, objective and fair accountability builds morale and ensures the staff know they will be treated fairly.
Scorecards Help Identify, Focus & Communicate
Users of scorecards and reliable analytical data report these benefits:
- Read Short & Long Term Store Sales
- Easily Identify Problems
- See Sales Trends
- Prompt Action in the Store
- Focus Investigations (Drill Down Analysis)
- Simplify Store Communication