Nearly anyone can realize success for a short period – particularly in a strong economy – but long-term retail success takes more than good luck. Here are ten areas of focus you must master to succeed. [level-members]
This list is from a great blog post at WhizBang Training, which is a good resource for other retail business tips.
- Excellent customer service
- Intelligent buying and inventory management
- Customer focused marketing
- Systematic employee management
- Efficient store operations
- Managing with financial information
- Effective staff training
- Strategic merchandising and visual display
- Long-range planning
- Disciplined, professional leadership
It’s no accident that customer service is at the top of the list. That’s where it belongs. If you learn no other skill and focus on no other metric, make great customer service your reason for unlocking the front door every morning.
(And effective staff training, which is an important requirement for providing great customer service is down at #7 only because there are so many other important elements to master. It should probably be up at number 5, at least.)
I would move “customer-focused marketing” to number two. If you market well to your customers – and listen to them closely enough – they’ll tell you what they want. That makes “intelligent buying and inventory management a whole lot easier. That skill belongs at #3.
Numbers 4 through 6 are all operational and all are important. Pay attention there, but don’t be so rigid that you create a work environment that is completely clamped down. Systems increase efficiency, but giving people the room to make decisions makes for happier employees and happier employees make for happier customers.
One other note on systems: while they shouldn’t be so rigid as to handcuff your employees, they should create a framework within which everyone should operate. That framework is important in case of emergency, providing staff with guidance if you’re unavailable to answer their questions. It’s also the only way you can step back from the day-to-day and focus on the bigger picture.
Which leads us nicely into #9. Don’t get so bogged down in the day to day that you forget your long-range planning. Keep scanning the horizon for what comes next, both positive and negative. It’s as important to be out in front of threats from new competition or regulatory changes as it is to quickly jump on opportunities like social media or collaboration with other local businesses.
When you add all of this up, you get #10 – displined, professional leadership. And that, in a nutshell, is what will help you succeed through good times and bad.