Pre-pandemic, district managers physically visiting the stores in their district, cluster or region (aka store audit, store walk, inspection, or visit) was considered a cornerstone of store operations best practices. With travel restrictions in place, many district managers are now unable or limited as to how much time they can spend time on the road and in the stores.
It is still essential for retail brands to ensure health and safety, loss prevention, and merchandising standards are in line with brand standards and strategic objectives.
District managers and retail brands need an effective way to manage store operations remotely. This is why we created this guide.
Remote is the New in person
Reporting on a recent survey of 317 CFOs, Retail Wire notes 74% intend to move at least five percent of their previous on-site workforce to permanent remote positions. The other quarter plan to transition at least 20% of their workers to remote positions.
The leading struggle for remote workers is team communication with 17% reporting frustrations. As teams utilize multiple, sometimes unsecure platforms, coordination and security are an issue. It is essential to bring your district managers and stores onto a single platform accessible from anywhere and on any device.
Remote workers also report frustration with hardware compatibility and home office setups. Cloud based platforms (such as Bindy) require no additional hardware. Additionally, a cloud-based platform typically updates automatically so users are always working with up-to-date features and functions.
Create your forms
Use the platform’s form builder, online or with Excel and upload, to build your operations, loss prevention, health and safety, or merchandising checklists/forms. Alternatively, you can copy a public form from a library of professionally vetted forms. Set your permissions and restrictions. Choose who on your team can use the checklist, when they can use the checklist, and where they can use it.
Choose which items have mandatory photos. Do this, for example, to obtain photographic evidence that social distancing protocols are in place and that the store is merchandised properly.
To promote trust between you and your field team and stores, be clear about scoring and expectations.
Next, we do not recommend vague and equivocal wording for form items. For example, don’t ask “On a scale of 1 – 5, is the store clean?” Instead, include details and specific criteria to determine and gauge success (and request photos!).
Even better, ask specific questions: “Was the store vacuumed before opening and after closing?” “Did the sales associate thank the customer for their purchase and invite them to return?” “Are all sales associates wearing masks?”
When building your form, remember to be the “coach”. Treat this process as an opportunity to coach stores, clarify standards, expectations and best practices. This promotes a spirit of continuous learning.
Need some inspiration? Check out our list of checklists, or follow our best practice guide to build your own:
Request or Schedule the Inspection
A cloud-based platform helps District Managers, Directors and Vice-Presidents manage the entire store inspection lifecycle remotely. If you know a store, some stores or all stores, need an audit/inspection/visit, you have two options to make it happen from wherever you are.
option 1: Schedule inspections in the calendar
Use the calendar to schedule one-off or recurring inspections. Choose the store, the appropriate form, and whether or not the inspection should recur. The calendar also uses color-coding so you can see which inspections are in progress, which are completed and which may have been missed.
option 2: Request Inspections
Choose your form, choose your team members, and set your due date. Include priorities and directions. Last, set priority and attach best practice photos or documents so your team has everything they need to complete their task.
Once scheduled or requested, email and app notifications are sent to your stores for completion.
Review In-progress and Completed inspections
You don’t need to be in your stores to know what is happening there. With real-time results, a cloud-based platform can help you identify issues before they turn into liabilities. Your team can share results with you or you can keep track with automated notifications.
You can track inspections from the calendar, or from a map, or from a list of inspections, or search for them. In fact, there are so many ways to find what is happening, graphically and intuitively, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.
Empower your team by allowing them to resolve issues, corrective actions with action plans, tickets and tasks. Action plans help eliminate time consuming back and forth. They also keep issues on one platform where teams can interact securely. You or your team can follow-up on completed and late action plans from anywhere with one click.
Do you like what your team member has done to fix an item? Bindy has social features built-in.
As teams resolve issues, they can mark them fixed and attach photos to demonstrate resolution.
Share Results and Follow-up
Completing an inspections reinforces best practices. With a cloud-based platform, wherever you are, completed results are easy to view and share securely. Set security permissions so only the members of your team who need to see inspection results can do so.
When your teams identify perpetual issues, you can assign tasks to brush up on training or push new directives. See completion in real time. Task recipients can share photos and comments to demonstrate completion.
Slice and dice: trends, summaries, graphs and more
The Return on Investment does not end with collecting inspection data, or even applying corrective actions, that’s just where it begins. Bindy has industry leading analytics and graphically-oriented tools and charts to help you find your best and worst items, operators, regions, repeat unaceptables and lot more. We turn data into information so you can turn it into business decisions.
Even if you can’t be in your store as often as you would like, you can still lead your teams and reinforce standards. With secure communication and real time interaction, you can stay connected to your team from anywhere.
Here are a few other posts you may find helpful for managing store operations remotely:
- Store Communication and Execution – A Comprehensive Guide for Retailers
- 4 Strategies for Change Management in Retail
- 4 Types of Inspections that Protect Store Operations
- Retail Task management – A Comprehensive Guide
OTHER RETAIL EXECUTION RESOURCES
Refer to Retail Execution category for how-tos and best practices for retail and hospitality execution of brand standards and programs.
OTHER RETAIL AUDIT AND INSPECTION RESOURCES
Refer to the Retail Audits and Inspections category for how-tos and best practices for retail audits and inspections.