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Ask INSTORE: April 2011

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Lessening your store’s daily dramas, lighting suggestions, following up on a promotional failure, and more.

 

[h3]Drama Class for Managers[/h3]Ask INSTORE 4-11

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]My store seems like a reality TV show: all unnecessary drama. It’s exhausting, but addressing it only seems to add fuel to the fire. Is there a way to bring it under control?[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]You’re not alone. After profitability concerns, this is the No. 1 headache of business owners, says Lauren Owen of Redpoint Business Coaching. Drama and discord create stress and hurt productivity. There is no quick fix but there are a number of things you can do, starting with regular meetings. “Scheduled, well-run meetings are essential to clear communication and team building and addressing potential conflicts,” says Owen, adding that such meetings are conspicuously absent at stores with drama issues. Other steps include confronting your drama queens, addressing your underperformers (there is often a hidden cost in the resentment they cause), performing a cost-benefit analysis on your high performance/maintenance employees (sometimes they just suck all the energy out of a store), and finally taking a good look at yourself. “Some people actually like drama, despite what they say,” Owen says. “If you were really honest with yourself you might understand that the drama is satisfying some need of yours. Attention? Power? Control? Do you avoid all conflict, even healthy conflict, at all costs?” And are you giving your staff a clear sense of purpose — that jewelry is about something bigger than profits or self-interest? Employees instilled with a sense of higher purpose tend to grouse a lot less, Owen says. [/dropcap]

[componentheading]LIGHTING [/componentheading]

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[h4][b]It’s time to replace my fluorescents but I can’t keep up with all the changes in lighting. What do you suggest?[/b][/h4]

You’ve timed this well. The newest lamps on the market will help you save money and the planet at the same time. To get the full benefit, however, Ruth Mellergaard, a principal at design firm Grid/3 International, recommends you go a step further and hire an electrician to change your fluorescent light ballasts to electronic, and then relamp the fixtures with lower wattage lamps with green ends.

[componentheading]  EVENTS  [/componentheading]

[h4][b]We tried our hand at an in-store event but the results weren’t great. I’m worried a second poor event will hurt our store’s reputation and staff morale.[/b][/h4]

There is a line of thought that there is nothing worse than first-time success, because you’ll never know why you succeeded. Ergo, failure is good — If you learn from it. “Many retailers create exciting in-store promotions but they fail to get their staff behind the effort, or they fail to track the results by finding out what brought the customer in during the time period or most importantly they didn’t fully execute on the promotion,” says James Porte of Porte Marketing. So, review what you did and then definitely, give it another shot based on what you learned.

[componentheading]ACCOUNTING  [/componentheading]

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[h4][b]Is it necessary to reconcile our books to the last penny? It seems a lot of effort for not much point. [/b][/h4]

There are some areas where you can disregard small discrepancies, but when it comes to reconciling the bank account to the general ledger you need to be “bang on all the time,” says David Brown of the Edge Retail Academy. It primarily has to do with security: A common embezzlement technique is to skim small, seemingly random amounts of cash from revenue. Keeping everything in order shouldn’t be that hard if you’ve computerized your account reconciliation.

[componentheading] LAYOFFS  [/componentheading]

[h4][b]We want to lay off a sales associate. If we are to give her “a month’s pay,” does that mean her base pay or do we factor in average commission as well?[/b][/h4]

Suzanne Devries, president of Diamond Staffing Solutions, notes that while legally you’re not required to give them more than their vacation, sick and personal days, you should base your decision on how valuable this person has been, and how long they have been with you. “If it’s a long time and they have been loyal, you should definitely consider a certain amount of days per year,” she says. Devries also advises you do an exit interview and have the person sign documentation stating they understand why “they are part of a force reduction.”

[span class=note]This story is from the April 2011 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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