If one were to survey retail store managers regarding the most common challenges they face on a daily basis, a consistent theme would be that labor budgets are too tight to accomplish the recurring operational workload and simultaneously provide excellent customer service. Corporate attempts to improve operating margins have slashed variable labor budgets while simultaneously placing added pressure on stores to execute more frequent promotional activities. Meanwhile, appealing store environments and superb service are no longer differentiating factors but rather essential requirements for survival in today’s highly competitive retail environment. As a result, store managers are often faced with difficult choices when deciding how to best allocate their available budget.
This dilemma can be addressed through a comprehensive operational assessment. Leading practice operational assessments evaluate the workload regularly performed in stores by asking retailers the following questions regarding each task: • Do we need to be doing this task? • Who should be doing this task? • When should this task be done? • How should this task be done?
By undertaking this effort, retailers will find they can improve efficiency in their stores, thereby enabling more consistent execution of their workload while simultaneously re-purposing a portion of their labor budget to improve customer service.