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Getting the Results You Want February 28, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Bronder On People, Management.
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Get more profit! Being clear in asking your employees to perform specific tasks can lead to higher profits. Here’s how.In large companies there is significant latitude for recovery from things not being done correctly. In a small company the impact of a task not done correctly can have devastating results. A major contributor of things not being done correctly is that the manager is not clear when asking employees to perform tasks. In high performing companies, associates get it right the first time — because the high performing managers set the right expectations. High performing managers use the SMARTER model when giving objectives to their employees.

Specific — they know what they want done and specify the form of the result.

Measurable — they know what an acceptable result looks like and they tell the employee what that measurement is.

Actionable — they know that the employee can take some action to cause the result to happen.

Realistic — they know that the employee has the skill or ability to make the result happen.

Time phased — they let the employee know when it has to be done.

Evaluation — they give the employee access to performance data, the associate does not need to check with the manager to know how they are doing.

Result — they specify a result, not an activity.

Let’s see how an unclear request could impact your business. Jim is a highly motivated employee who always wants to do his best. On Monday, you ask Jim to get a count of the number of pallets loaded from dock #1 each day. You do not hear from Jim for a full week and when you ask him for an update, he tells you he is working on it. A week later Jim delivers a computerized report showing the number of pallets, the content of each pallet, the weight of each pallet and the mean distance traveled by all the pallets. He is proud of his report. Are you? Is this what you wanted? Can you see where this ambiguity in your request can lead to frustration and worse, lost profits?

Using SMARTER, you phrase your request more clearly:
Jim, I need a daily count of the pallets loaded from dock #1 over the next 5 days. I only need the count and it must be 100% accurate. I need your report at 5:00 PM this Friday.

This request will give you the result you want, when you want it. There is no waste, no rework and your business makes more profit.

How are you asking your employees to perform tasks? What results are you getting? Why not experiment with using SMARTER to form your requests?

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Retail Sales: Reducing Product Clutter February 26, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Retailer Store Strategies.
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dirksphoto.jpgRecently, I went to one of the local sporting goods stores in my area. It’s a well-known, independent, and popular store as far as I can tell. As I entered the store and began searching for the item I needed, I noted a few things:

1. In retail, clutter kills profitability. If a customer can’t find what they need because they just can’t cut through the merchandise clutter, you lose a sale. In this case, the merchandise selection was very good but crammed into the store. It almost overwhelmed me to the point that I had to spend too much time trying to orient myself to the store.

If you have a store that is chock full of merchandise, you might consider creating some simple but effective signage that clearly shows where each area is. Anything that helps a customer, especially one who is visiting for the first time, to easily orient themselves and FIND WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR. Don’t cram merchandise for the sake of cramming for all to see.

Which brings me to my next point:

2. I spent more than a few minutes walking around the store, trying to find the item I was looking for. Clutter. Not an easy task. There was a man standing there who looked like he was doing some stocking chores. He noticed me walking around but never once offered to help me…and it wasn’t clear to me that he was an employee either.

If you have a store, it might help if you at least try to identify your employees from the customers by providing them with a name tag, at a minimum. You might not want to expend the money but if you could, provide them with a ‘store shirt’ that clearly has your store name on it.

Even better, train your employees to ask anyone who even remotely looks like they are trying to find something if they need assistance. I’ve seen even the local ‘big box’ stores miss the mark on that one. I find employees who are moving in one direction another pass me by but never ask if I need any help. Every employee should ask any customer they see if they need any assistance, period. That goes for you the owner, if you are the employee.

Golden rule: Politely ask every customer that comes through your door if you can help them. Everytime.

If you want to differentiate yourself from the other stores, step up the level of customer service by making sure you engage every customer who walks in with a friendly smile and ‘welcome’ along with a tag line that asks them if you can help them in any way. It’s a simple, low-cost way to make a difference. It also insures that you get every sale you deserve.