There are a lot of articles, blogs, and white papers lately talking about the latest software, technologies, tracking programs, and systems that will solve all kinds of customer attraction, retention, and satisfaction issues. It’s tempting to believe that all a store needs to do in order to survive in this new, challenging world of retail, is to buy the latest tech solution and let the system do its thing. If only it were that easy.
There is no doubt that in order to be successful retailer today, technology is an important piece. However, technology alone will not save a retailer if the human side of the business isn’t carefully planned and supported.
Retail was, and still is, primarily a people-business: the customers, the employees who serve them, and the leaders who support the employees. Working with, understanding, and serving people can be challenging; even for those who call themselves “a people person”.
As the retail industry continues to evolve and change, each retailer needs to research and review what technology makes the most sense for their specific business, their customers, and their employees. The slickest, newest, fastest technology won’t help at all if your customers don’t care about what it does for them, and it certainly won’t help if your employees don’t use it.
There is no doubt you got to where you are because you are good at what you do, probably very good. But no one is excellent in every area of a business. Recognizing that getting some expert guidance to help your business grow, or course-correct, is the first step to success.
Small, Independent Retailers (1 location, up to 10):
Get professional help. A small business retail consultant is a great resource. Hiring a third party, someone who is not emotionally tied to your business, is a great way to get an objective set of eyes on what you see every day but may be missing because you’re too close to it.
What to look for. Your small business retail consultant should have extensive experience in retail: hands on, been-there-done-that, type of experience. A mix of experience with successful, and not so successful, retailers is important. Who would you like to lead you through turbulent waters? A captain who has only experienced smooth sailing, or one who has survived all types of storms?
What to expect. Be ready to answer questions. A good small business retail consultant will typically spend time observing your store(s) in action, reviewing your current systems and processes, and interview multiple members of your team. They will want to hear what your pain points are. What’s working? What isn’t? What do your entry level team members have to say? What do your customers have to say?
What do you get? Your small business retail consultant will help you build a strategic plan to tackle the areas of your business that need a new approach or adjustments to current techniques. You get advice, training on new skills, and guidance on how to implement the action steps to get results.
Small, independent retailers: click here to skip to the summary.
Corporate Retail (10+ locations):
Get professional help. A corporate retail consultant provides a set of independent eyes. They are there to provide valuable insights to your organizations’ areas of opportunity. A consultant’s objective perspective will often identify what you and your team are missing because you’re too close to it.
What to look for. Your corporate retail consultant should have extensive experience in retail, both at the store-level, multi-location management, and corporate experience. The best, and most lasting success programs, have three key components: analysis of current situation, recommendations and an action plan for specific areas of opportunity, and an on-going coaching system that insures implementation and desired results.
What to expect. A good corporate retail consultant will initially spend time learning about your current systems and processes, and will interview multiple members of your team, at various levels throughout the organization. Hiring a corporate retail consultant is a great way to discover hidden bottlenecks and internal politics. Your consultant brings best practices from across the industry, with experience in multiple functions within a retail organization.
What do you get? Your corporate retail consultant can provide a variety of solutions, based on the needs of your organization. As companies grow, or re-structure, having knowledgeable, management-level expertise assisting with change, takes significant stress off the senior executives from feeling compelled to quickly fill open, or newly created/vacated leadership positions. Hiring a corporate retail consultant can provide the needed breathing space to adjust to growth, or change. This allows time for the development of a strategic plan to tackle the areas that need a new approach or adjustments to current techniques. You get advice, training on new skills, and guidance on how to implement the action steps to get results, plus continued coaching and evaluation checkups to ensure the organization stays on track.
It would be so nice if we could just purchase a new software program and push a button to get the results we want. Anyone who has lived through a new software implementation knows how far from the truth that scenario is.
Ultimately, the decision to hire a small business retail consultant, or a corporate retail consultant, will be a pivotable point in your organization’s lifeline. Understanding that the skills and experience that have grown your organization to where it is today, are most likely not the same skills and experience that will help it to grow to the next level, is the first step to position it for future strength and success.
Retail Level Up provides the tools, resources, guidance, coaching, and expertise to help retailers survive and thrive in this new age of technology. Visit our website www.retaillevelup.com to learn more. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a call or meeting.
Best of luck with your Holiday peak business!