Got Time for Management?
As the saying goes, 'Time is money' and every time a job or task hasn’t been done, and done properly, it's going to cost more of it. Especially when tasks such as stock ordering and replenishment, merchandising, product knowledge training, and setting up a sale are critical to success.
The list of daily tasks confronting retail managers is often enormous, and that’s without squeezing in a sandwich for lunch or helping on the sales floor. Whether in personal or business life, everyone is guilty of inefficiently managing or wasting time at one stage or another.
Do the phrases, “I will deal with it tomorrow”, “Let’s leave it for tomorrow” or “we can look at it later”, sound familiar? If so, then procrastination has started to take over and this could affect the overall operation and success of the business. To stop it, one needs to identify who says it most often and why it is being said at all. Is it because of a lack of knowledge, a lack of skill or simply a lack of motivation?
Putting tasks off for another day will only create future problems. The truth is that spare time rarely happens and those ‘tomorrow’ tasks make tomorrow chaos for the business and everyone involved Christmas is the busiest period for jewellery retailers and comes with an increase in customer orders. Make a store policy that requires complete customer order details to be entered a specific book and give the responsibility to one member of the team to process these before the end of each day. Even allocate a specific time if necessary. Without this discipline, the person taking the order may make a note on a piece of paper and attend another customer, thinking it can be done later.
The store closes and that member (a casual), is away for a few days and the order is forgotten. The customer stops by a few days before Xmas to see how the order is going, the chaos starts and suddenly the manager needs to deal with an angry customer in a busy store during the Christmas rush.
Additional and unexpected chaos can lead to unnecessary and complicated situations that consume even more time. This whole situation could have been avoided by following these easy steps: set aside a specific time daily or weekly to consolidate orders that need processing; commit to daily deadlines for all critical tasks to ensure that the focus remains on the key areas of the business. Lack of structure and discipline will send any business out of control. It is common that tasks that are easy or fun are completed first, leaving potentially urgent or critical tasks incomplete.
Establish priorities to overcome this and to ensure that the key focus remains on running the business. Product knowledge training, for example, is sometimes placed in the too-hard basket; however, it should be given a high priority because you will never maximise sales without correct product knowledge.
Therefore, training should become a regular activity with specific times scheduled for the dates when new products or ranges are introduced into the store. Having said goodbye to procrastination, managers must then set business goals.
Set a deadline for completion and use an annual planning chart that is broken down by months, weeks and days, then begin by entering all the key activities, events, promotions or goals and their deadline dates. This schedule will become a guide for the year ahead, identifying when specific tasks such as stocktaking, training and advertising will take place. By setting goals, and having these goals clearly marked, all members of the business understand what needs to be done in the long run, as well as on a daily basis.
Beware of ‘over committing syndrome’. Consider delegating routine jobs to various members of the team to ensure they are performed with regularity. Having others perform key task will ensure the task is done quickly each week, allowing more time for the manager to concentrate on key priorities and contribute to the development and motivation of the team.
Some other helpful tips to keeping a steady and regular workflow is to avoid back-to-back meetings, allowing time between all appointments; manage interruptions such as calls by prioritising them; and only allow critical issues to affect the business plan. To have a successful business, managers must treat time like the precious resource it is.
Efforts made to eliminate procrastination, to prioritise tasks, to set goals and to commit to deadlines will allow a business and the team to stay focused on the key priorities. Be proactive, not reactive, and allocate the time needed to adapt to changes and the crises that may and most likely will occur along the way.