Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing Is Key to Grow C-Stores

Time Is Limited

Steven Covey stated ‘the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.’ Kevin Kruse argued in his Forbes article that this practice has the power to change one’s life. For many C-Store managers the main thing is to grow. They are expected to keep the store running and growing. But there is an every-day struggle for many just to keep the store running as it is. So how can a store manager keep growth as the main thing?

Change Is Required

Growing a C-Store demands new things to happen (more customers, better upselling, improved interactions, etc.) Making things better by training your staff and improving the store appearance takes time away from the existing workload. There is a natural conflict between doing the existing work and trying to further develop people and systems. For many, ‘change while you go’ cannot be avoided if you want to also ‘grow while you go’. That is, we must keep the stores running and make improvements ‘as we go’.

Making Time Available

Since time is limited, focusing on the main thing each day is critical. One way to make time available is to eliminate low value work and only address those tasks that bring the highest value. That means, that we must choose the balance carefully:

  1. too much and we overload,
  2. too little and the customer or growth suffers.

Setting Priorities

Balancing the need for change with existing daily work is made easier by setting priorities. Identify which work items are the main things. Prioritize so work is sequenced from most important to least important. In this way, the work that is not done (i.e., not a main thing) is automatically the work that has the least value. Hence the very definition of productivity is met – replace less important work with higher value work. The key then is picking the right things- setting the C-Store Performance expectations.

Know the Priorities

Providing guidance through information, training and software makes it easier for managers choose and accomplish the most important work each day. A direct way to help achieve growth is providing the employee development and software so its easier to set priorities. How easy is it for your managers to know answers to key questions for your company, district or store? The less time spent finding answers the more time there is for implementing needed changes. For example:

  1. Same day sales – was it a good day compared to last year?
  2. Monthly sales – what are the trends?
  3. Top selling items – anything new selling?
  4. Items that are not selling at all – what happened?
  5. Customer feedback – what do they want so they come back?
  6. Communication – what feedback needs to be shared?
  7. Shift Duties – are all the shifts doing them completely?
  8. Shift Duties – any special training needed?
  9. Staff Development – are we engaging our customers?
  10. Staff Development – what inspections items failed?
  11. Store inspections – are the stores how they should be?
  12. Store inspections – are there specific areas that need improvement?
  13. Store maintenance items – is everything working?
  14. Store maintenance items – are my stores getting the support they need?

Focus – Knowing the Main Thing

If there is a place that the most important information can be found so that the manager is not wasting time gathering and sharing the information, then it becomes a quick check to decide what things need attention. Creating a list of the priorities that must be done makes work faster and even easier. Sometimes the hardest problem is just figuring out what to do first. So make it easy for yourself and your team. List the priorities. Keep the main thing the main thing.

For more information on C-Store Performance – Accountability

You may also want to read about our blog on C-Store Operations – Keep It Simple – The Hard Work?

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Things Preventing Me From Getting Stuff Done

My company provides Store Performance Systems to help companies get better results with less effort. Our culture calls for us to work the same way we recommend to our clients to work. I changed roles when I joined this company and I had to not only learn a new industry but also a new role. Despite a strong desire for the change, I found there were some things preventing me from getting stuff done. I was struggling to meet certain goals. I learned a few things over the past few months. Change for me came down to some key elements:

  1. Simplifying and repeating certain behaviors
  2. Attitude towards change
  3. Keeping track of my work

It sounds straight forward, and I have a written process, but there’s a lot of STUFF that gets in the way.

Things Preventing Me From Getting Stuff Done

Mindset. We also call it head stuff – a lot of habits and tendencies don’t go away overnight. They need to be managed well, personally by me and ideally with an accountability partner.

I’ve had some tough conversations with my business partner about professional development, meeting milestones, hitting certain goals, etcetera. He’s my accountability partner, so we frequently review what I’m doing to meet these goals. We assess where I’m failing or not following through and focus on how that affects me personally. These are milestones I set based on career development and – importantly – they are aligned with the company goals. This isn’t just accountability in my company role, it’s long term professional accountability.

Buying into the Process

During one of our reviews we discussed obstacles by asking the question “What are all the things that are getting in the way accomplishing one of my critical goals?” For example, I had a specific goal for the week. We sat down and looked at every activity not related to meeting the goal. What can we remove from that list? What does that look like? We were getting to the bare bones of “what actions do I need to do, how much, and what’s stopping me?”

Simple and Organized

That week it came down to creating an organized, simple list of actions, and opting out of certain meetings that weren’t important to personal or company goals. I may not be able to take away all activities every week, but how can I turn this planning into a process that’s sustainable and repeatable? Better yet, is the template good enough to be useful to someone else?

Here are a few takeaways that help me get on track and start doing the things that I needed to do

Start of the Day Plan

I have a start of the day plan. For me it’s a daily repeated calendar event of things I want to reference or keep at the top of my head, including goals for the month or week. Not just company goals, but the personal goals I set. I’ll even include certain attitudes and behaviors of to strive for a certain mindset.

I want to be more: insert adjective. For example: I want to be more focused I want to be more discerning I want to be more tough. Those are real things I’ve written down. It’s a bit of a mind trick. Sometimes it seems strange to write down attitudes, but there are times it has kept me on track for the day.

Be Organized

So, what are all the important things that I need to review each morning?

I lay out the important things that need to get done and either mark them off as I go or use them for staying on track. The cleanest example of this in my world is when I have a backlog of people I need to call. If I have a list of all the people there in front of me, contact info, the reason I’m calling them back, what we talked about before, it starts to take away reasons not to just call. No searching for their number or remembering what was discussed. Keep it simple and clear so I can just Do the action. Even on days when I do not feel like picking up the phone, if I have everything in place, it makes it so much easier to just do it. I find that I’m less stressed knowing that I’ve contributed to my own goals, which, yes, are aligned with company goals. Also, when I keep a record of this, the meetings with my partner become more factual and to the point. They are also shorter and oriented towards higher level problem-solving.

Focus on High Value Work

Systemizing the work helps me to focus on the more interesting work, brainstorming new ideas, or having more free time.

Simple not Easy

Working these steps into my day wasn’t easy. Our DevOps team uses a similar system. They even score themselves, measuring how they do daily and review every morning. We’ve created these systems for ourselves and developing them and sticking with it took a lot of effort, some difficult conversations, and buy-in from everyone.
We still work on ways to improve, but it has become more routine, takes less time, and is an important operational function. The results are improvement or knowing why something was missed.
When motivation is aligned expectations are clear, and behavior is simplified, the pain of change is temporary, manageable, and worth it.

For more information on C-Store Performance – Accountability

You may also want to read about our blog on Five Minute C-Store Expectations Plan?
or
Here is an article based on research of change from Harvard Health Publishing.

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29944027 - businessman walking the easy way to success

C-Store Operations – Keep It Simple – The Hard Work

C-Store Operations – Keep It Simple – The Hard Work never ends. While simple is desirable,  it’s not easy – it’s just better. Simple means clarity. Clarity is worth the work required to find and follow the simple path. With simplicity comes focus that brings action.

C-Store Operations – Keep It Simple – The Hard Work in Motion

The path begins with your vision and mission. Your journey commences when you set goals to match your mission. Choose goals that matter and find ways to measure them. With such choices, you are on your way to productivity. Adding tasks and assignments to define the work to strive towards the goals establishes a process. While following a process will help you reach your goals, implementing a system will keep you there and allow you to adjust and maintain as you grow.

In the post, ‘Business Wisdom Within’, Alan Nicol summarizes that many proven management methodologies are founded upon simplicity. He states that Six Sigma uses the concept of reduced variation. Mr. Nicol likes how Lean Methodology drives to simplify both processes and management structure. His rule for simple: Effectively accomplish what is important with the fewest possible resources.

C-Store Operations – Signs of Excessive Complexity

  1. Imprecise measures
  2. Vague responsibility
  3. Denial of problems
  4. Excuse generation
  5. Training headaches
  6. Increased skill demands
  7. Operational paralysis

C-Store Operations – Complexity happens with change

Complexity is not something that anyone desires. No one chooses to make things harder than needed. It just happens as things change. Companies grow, management is added and new technology arrives. The work process is not always updated to match these changes. Complexity is not the result of a plan but rather the unresolved left-overs of the old. In the real-world of on-going operations, considering every aspect of a change is often not possible. Employees must keep the company working and thereby redundant or inefficient work occurs and the complexity increases.

C-Store Operations – Redundancy is not always obvious

The outdated or modified work flow may require extra work to find, document and communicate the new way. It can be a simple email, a change to a daily report or a training program. Training, communication, systems and procedures may not be synchronized and employees may be doing a combination of old and new assignments. For example, tracking and reporting are part of a system. Such information requires the employees to do work that is passed to others. When changes are made, these old tracking and reporting tools may no longer be needed. There are many kinds of work of which the producing employee may not be aware. When such work is no longer needed the person doing the work must be notified. This is one way simplification can make things better. The removal or re-allocation of work can increase production rates.

C-Store Operations – Keep It Simple – The Hard Work Steps

  1. Start with mission, vision, and core values
  2. Keep it simple – 10 measures max
  3. Publish results and analysis
  4. Score as many as needed to explain and call to action
  5. Make communication part of the action plans
  6. Find and remove work that is not necessary
  7. Ensure feedback is given with the same rigor as the scoring
  8. Make if Fair and Fun
  9. Reward results – money, time and appreciation

C-Store Operations – Keep It Simple – The Hard Work- Related blogs and posts

You may also like a related blog regarding a balanced scorecard. When choosing your goals and measurements a balanced set can help. For a business school point of view, you may enjoy Simplicity-Minded Management by Ron Ashkenas in the Harvard Business Review.

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Making C-Store Changes – Does It Have to Be So Hard?

Does It Have to Be So Hard?

Making C-Store change keeps operators busy working to grow and improve their business. They understand growth is critical and the same old things are not enough. The unspoken issue, however, is that change generates a lot of resistance and the normal day is already busy. The idea of tackling change can sometimes feel overwhelming. The idea of getting new ideas into action can just seem too hard.

Many will consider making c-store change if it does not require staff to do anything new. They seek the silver bullet of change that occurs regardless of the work from staff. Some will analyze other operations that work well. Some companies can make it look like staff perform the same tasks the same way every day without any changes. That is, they have it figured out. If you already have a c-store operation that is performing very well and there is a functioning system to keep it that way, then in theory no changes are needed. We have visited companies that seem to do everything right. They have a great brand, they make big profits, they increase sales, customer satisfaction is maxed out and employees fight hard to get a job.

Making C-Store Change Can Look Easy for Some

We know great companies when we shop there. They are polished and appear fortunate to have the time and money to make it happen. Their staff simply do their work without a lot of stress and earn big rewards. These types of companies must be eager to keep things stable and on the good path.

Facing Change – The Inverse Rule of Change Resistance

An interesting point, however, is that the many successful companies keep pushing their company, systems, and staff to change – and grow. While they do it well and appear to make it look easy, the best companies often have a new goal and plan for improvement. That is, those that appear to need to make changes the least are often the ones that seek change the most. Perhaps that is the basis for the adage ‘grow or die’. Growth mandates change. So those growing may just consider it a necessary part of normal business. Perhaps change is understood and managed just like the rest of the business.

For those that want to do better, but do not feel fully equipped to make it happen, face a tough decision. They know that changes are needed, but worry about making things worse. One big challenge is how to change and avoid creating a new problem due to team morale.

A First Step Toward Change

That is the real issue for many of us – the desire to improve, but worry that making changes may make things worse due to employee resistance. Once the change decision is made, then managing the amount of change becomes a key to success. According to Kevin Ready, Motivational Drivers are the fuel behind what team members do and why they do it. Managing the amount and pace of change is critical. Avoid having managers focus on only their own or even the company needs but consider the teams need for stability. Change creates resistance based on the desire for stability. The real, albeit temporary, loss of stability is the source of resistance. Getting the team involved in the process can help to reduce the fixation on stability and thus the resulting resistance. Addressing impact on stability with buy-in is one way to reduce the resistance to change.

The first step is to decide to change. What if, instead of starting with fixing the problem, you simply try to get some buy-in to the goal of change AND to the things that matter the most? What if the change becomes driven from those that must make the changes, with their consent and support? Making one successful step may increase the desire for the next change. With a great attitude and a little teamwork who knows – the fear of not changing may be greater than the fear of making changes to get better.

Employees who have input on changes are then more likely to buy-in to them. When they see the natural consequences of staying the same, they may start to own the need to make a change. With bottom-up changes, attitudes and performance improve and, with them, so do results. Start early and get input so you can get busy making c-store changes.

For more information on related materials read about C-Store Accountability – Do You Have to Be So Mean?

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The Inertia of C-Store Performance – Time for Change

A Time to Change

When putting new processes and technologies into place to save time or increase profits, there are lots of things that can impact success. Even if you are making changes specifically to address waste that harms the team, the beneficiaries of the change will still experience stress. Many changes create some level of stress. If an important change has only recently been implemented, then perhaps a little patience is justified. If it has been a while, then a different approach may be necessary. Remembering the timeframe from the perspective of your team helps to use the appropriate pace.

Expectations

As companies create or increase store performance expectations there is a natural reaction within the organization. As with other human experiences they are unique, yet tend to follow recognizable patterns. There is an inertia that keeps existing work patterns in place. This is not all bad. Just like old patterns, the new patterns can be set in motion and kept moving forward with less energy once implemented. To implement successfully, change must happen. The symptoms that things are not yet moving may be found from statements that you hear such as:

  1. I haven’t gotten around to it yet
  2. Did you want me to do that?
  3. I did not see any problems this week
  4. I’m still working on it

Wait and See

Of course, these may be a perfectly valid responses. Even companies that have very productive systems in place will have occurrences of staff overload or bad performance. However, if there is an abundance of explanations or excuses to delay using new technology or processes, then the ‘wait and see’ impact of inertia may be hindering progress.

While denying issues or the avoiding the necessary action is not acceptable, the approach to move forward may impact the long-term success of the change. There are many valid reasons why things may take a while:

  1. Past management inconsistencies
  2. Unclear expectations
  3. Lack of Buy-in
  4. Unskilled workers

Seriously Fun

It is important to be consistent and clear. Past mistakes by leadership must be addressed, but certainly cannot excuse inaction. Leaders need to have appropriate resolve, yet allow sufficient patience to accommodate the change. There may be a need to establish training, have a review session to repeat instructions or other actions to get the project on track. It may take some staff more time to understand and operate in a new way. Persistent resolve with the appropriate pace and encouragement is almost always useful. Adding a little levity while maintaining the importance of the work can help. Everyone can use a round ‘To It’ when they are struggling to find the time to get a Round TO IT. Find your style and keep the commitment to necessary change. Find ways to accommodate the different speed at which your team can adjust and improve. Make your ‘To It’ round and drive store performance!

Hint: Print the ‘TO IT!’ button above and use scissors to cut it out as a circle – now you can give anyone that needs it a ’round’ ‘to it!’ So they no longer need to wait to ‘get a round TO IT’.

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C-Stores, If you come to the fork in the data, take it

Yogi Berra was often lampooned for his seemingly non-sensible statements. But the easy to remember and thoughtful concepts help to clarify issues and allow simple choices.  His take the fork statement made sense when you understand that he lived mid-way on a circular road. When driving to his house you came to a fork. Either way, worked just as fast and easy to get to his house.

Using data sometimes can be similar. When providing data analysis to our C-Store clients we often hear concerns about things that prevent them from making the change.  The most common concerns we hear are the following:

  • Data overload – They feel they have enough reports that they really don’t look at now
  • Process changes – There is a process change involved from what they may be doing currently
  • Overwhelming our staff – Many changes had already been adopted during the year and they feared adding another
  • Work overload –  They want their store employees to be focused on customers and not software.

All of these issues are real and should be addressed. We find, however, that to measure and compare work results to goals is always useful.  Small process changes and a little extra data entry can be a very small trade-off for doing things much more efficiently as a whole.

The point is that we learn and have objective data teaching us important information. When we wait until we have all the other items done or we know every possible outcome of the all data we may not start learning and improving. Things can begin to plateau.  When has doing nothing ever helped anyone when a change is needed?

Certainly a plan is to be created and communication  established in its implementation. However, analysis paralysis may be more damaging than a program.   Even with the best of plans, programs are typically adjusted as they work their way into an environment and culture.   Our company is able to work with companies who want to use data analytics. What we  find among all of them is that  they do the work, learn from the results and make adjustments as  lessons are learned.  Another common trait was that they always improved. None of them ever regretted getting started.

These companies simply picked a side and went forward in their journey. When things got better,  there was no reason to look back.   Hence, we often like to use our friend Yogi to remind ourselves. When you come to the fork in the road, just take it.

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What Hurts C-Store Managers More – Blunt Honesty or Acceptance & Polite Excuses?

As hard as it is to admit, some of the most effective coaching I ever received was when a trusted person told me he needed to stop wasting his time trying to help me because nothing was getting accomplished.   It hurt like crazy, but made me dig deep to find the problem and take action.  I am still not sure if it was the the comment or the blunt way it was said but it motivated me to fix the problem and accomplish what was to be accomplished. I later thanked him and made sure he knew that his help was indeed valuable.

“Sometimes you must seem to hurt something in order to do good for it.”
Susan Cooper, The Grey King

While it hurt during the moment, I knew this person had spent months taking time to listen to me and provide feedback. There was no selfish motive in his comments. I decided to listen first and ignore my feelings. After all, there were some very reasonable facts that sparked the comment. Very little had been accomplished at the time.  I took time over the following weeks to review  the information I had and made some big changes.

The real painful news was that it took over a year to turn the situation around. Just because I listened, it did not make it any easier.  The great news is that the changes worked and things got better. Now I decide to view all things from the outside perspective. It is faster and saves time.

C-Store Managers often get negative comments from their employees, customers and even their superiors at times.  However, it is important to note that the motivation behind a negative comment is usually not to be insulting rather an expression of true interest in improving  your business.  Not everyone is great at delivery and C-Store employees can be young where they may not have yet developed the filters they need to be less offensive in their delivery. Try to understand that the underlying reason for the complaint or comment is usually with an intention of making things better.  People, by nature, want to be kind or they don’t want to invest the time in your problems at all. The natural tendency is to agree and tell you what you want to hear. Be grateful for them sharing their perspective. Think about when you coach, do you tell who you are coaching what they want to hear or do you tell them what they need to know to improve?

Had the person been polite and said the message with more kindness by simply making polite excuses as to why they would not help going forward, it may not have hit home. I may have believed the problem to have been theirs and not my own. Now, when I have a tough problem and ask for help, I invite tough and honest feedback because this is a lesson that has been learned. So, try even hard to listen and embrace the other person’s perspective, even  if it isn’t what you want to hear. Maybe its just what you need.

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CHANGE THE PEOPLE OR CHANGE THE PEOPLE

Working with top C-Store operators provides a lot of great insights into management. C-Store operators have to deal with heavy competition, long hours, and weekend work. This environment often leads to high turnover. In order to run well you have to have staff that can get things done as you need.  If your store performance is suffering from an employee who is a weak link, it may be time to either mentor them for change or replace them with a stronger link.  While it may seem tough, I hear the same message in different ways, you either have to get non-performers to change or change who is in that position. One way to say – To keep your C-Store running smoothly you have to change the people or change the people   If  you have too much turn-over you will spend too much time and/or money training as well as risk bad performance. If you do not turn-over when needed the situation may be worse. You may be let go.  Of course, the best way is to build a process and culture that people want to join. Executing well means you pick the right people and provide the opportunity for success. Of course, even the best operators know they are no one is perfect and sometimes changing means letting people go. While it may be impossible to ever enjoy termination – for the cost to both sides is very high – there are times when it is truly good for both.

Assuming you have done a great job setting job requirements and have a good place to work, if someone is not succeeding it may be that they are in the wrong job.  If they are not performing well, it is likely they are not happy there either.  There are so many jobs out there, that everyone should be able to find one that they enjoy and have the ability to do well. Letting one go is never easy for the person who is being fired or the one who is firing them.  However, if your ultimate role is ensuring store performance and you are not getting the job done and, the reason points to an individual’s unwillingness to improve, the choice becomes obvious.  You mustn’t feel guilt for doing your job.

No matter what happens, be fair, honest and helpful. Explain why they are being let go so they can learn from it.  Point out their positive traits to damper the blow to their self-esteem, Finally, offer suggestions for other possibilities for them to let them know they do have value. If it going to be hard on everyone, at least make it beneficial.  It is not unheard of for them to  even call to thank you one day. One of the best rewards is having someone contact you down the road and thank you for helping find the job they love.

Now, if you fire a lot and nothing get better. Maybe it’s time to look inside.

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How C-Stores can make a change if they do not want discomfort?

Fortunately, C-Stores employees are quite used to change. Prices, legislation, and products change often and sometimes every day. Anyone who has worked in a C-Store company, for any amount of time, is never shocked with change. However there are some changes that are bigger than most.  These are the changes to the core things you have done for years to run your business that may no longer working.  That is when discomfort can be expected in a C-Store Operation, or anywhere. Our company builds software for C-Stores that and often requires these type of changes. We are often asked, “How can we make a change if we do not want our employees to feel any discomfort?” The realistic answer is that it can’t be done.  While you may not be able to eliminate it, there are things you can do to get your employees past it.

EXPLAIN WHY THE CHANGE IS HAPPENING
Though it is natural for them to do so, don’t let employees internalize the situation. Immediately explain  what used to work simply no longer does. Explain the problems your company has in your current situation that made a change necessary. It is easier to accept the decision when one has an understanding of why the change is happening. Also tell them what the consequences would be without the change.

TELL THEM HOW THE CHANGE WILL IMPACT THEM
The next normal reaction most people have will be wondering how the change will impact them. Rarely do they first look for the change benefit. Let’s look at a simple example of putting in a new soda machine that has multiple flavors that can be added to each soda. You are putting it there to compete with the store across the street however, it will require more cleaning.   Their first thought may be as you jump ahead to explain the benefits may be “How much harder is this modern machine going to be to clean?” and will not be, “Cool, we can compete better”.  You will want to explain the extra effort of course but, explain the contribution they will be making to the benefit of this change and relay what will be easier because of them.  Acknowledge that they will be taking an important role and contributing to the solution.

ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR DISCOMFORT

Empathize with their feelings at the time.  You probably had the same feelings when you decided to make the change. Explain how you worked it through by looking at the solutions in more depth to understand, it really wasn’t a bad change and that the benefits of making it, make sense. When you walk them through your reasoning, they probably will come to the same conclusion.  If they know you felt the same at first, they will be more willing to hear your reasoning.

PAINT THE ROSY PICTURE THE CHANGE WILL PROVIDE

Now they are prepared to hear the benefits to you and them that the change will provide.  They will probably even agree it is a great one. Talk about the pains that will be eliminated and what will be better. Certainly let them know that you earnestly feel that you made the right decision for their benefit as well as your own.

So the next time you are asked to make a change, then asked not to scare anyone, just turn the question around and ask them how comfortable they would be without changing.

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Store Performance Improvement Strategies – Should Failure be Encouraged?

Although sometimes we get improvement without effort, most would agree that if you need to improve a something then a change is required. And while we sometimes may ‘know’ in advance that a certain change will produce a better result, we also know changes are not guaranteed to work as intended. Nonetheless, many changes have anticipated negative effects initially, but will create better results over time. For example, many managers are willing to accept that a new hire is less likely to perform perfectly than one that has years of experience. In this example, poor results from the change of a new hire are temporary and even expected. This failure is easy to understand – it takes training and practice to gain the knowledge of how to do certain procedures.

It gets more challenging, however, when you have an experienced team that must respond and improve but is currently performing well. External or uncontrollable factors can impact performance. The economy can change, key supplies can be cut off, situations that can impact employee attendance and new competitors entering the market can all come into play. So even in high performance situations, there are times when change may be required.

Many operators seek constant improvement. Striving to improve keeps you growing and the old adage comes to mind – ‘you are either growing or dying.’

Regardless of the motivation any change implies risk of failure. Great managers encourage failure but also manage the risks. This is where leaders earn their keep. Knowing how to encourage and motivate staff to take risks and grow is one of the keys to long term success. Many managers know from experience that allowing experiments can lead to big improvements but they can cause problems as well. In ‘Challenging Success Versus Failure’ by Carlin Flora, Carlin  discusses the point that ‘There is no guarantee that failure will lead to success, but if approached head-on, with emotional openness and intellectual suppleness, it will lead to psychological growth.’ In short, while it can be emotionally brutal, facing a failure head-on can provide insights that lead to improvements. She explains, ‘Once we face failure, embracing it honestly and fully, its true gifts, which are subtle, nonflashy, and not easily quantifiable, can emerge.’

For example, you may choose the wrong product, but have great promotion, timing and placement. By failing on one item, you may learn that you can successfully garner attention of customers but you have to also provide what they need. Certainly sun screen in the summer near the beach may sell better than during cloudy winter months. You may want to offer stock-up promotions during those grey months to compensate for the expected lower sales so you can get more with each transaction you may have.  The placement and timely positioning however, will work with the right product at the right time.

Of course, learning and experience applies to all aspects of running operations: hiring, motivating, training and just about everything that you manage.  Thinking outside of the box or seeking change in the way things are done can sometime be the only way to solve a problem.  Teaching your team to do so with risk reduction in mind is an art.  Helping your team to have a safe way to take risks may allow them to grow and ultimately succeed in significant ways and solve your problems.

 

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