Part 1: Getting to Know the District Manager
At Square Root, we believe District Managers (DMs) are superheroes of their organizations. They funnel a massive amount of program and performance information back and forth between corporate headquarters and all of the stores in their district. At the center of communication, strategy, performance, and revenue, they are the fulcrum of retailers. Square Root is dedicated to delivering technology to empower the DMs and leverage their efforts for greater impact.
In order to better understand DMs as key drivers of retail performance, we partnered with WBR Digital to explore their crucial role. Along with gathering valuable data points on their positions, work patterns, and use of technology, we also wanted to know how DMs felt about their job—what they love and what they struggle with. The comments we gathered helped us get to know the DMs and their unique role.
What do District Managers love about their work?
Overwhelmingly, DMs in our survey talked about working with people—training, coaching, working with their teams, and helping people with performance. They enjoy interacting and resonating with people at the stores in their district. One DM said their favorite thing was “building teams, coaching, and teaching leadership.” Another said they enjoyed “working with different managers, and seeing better results in profits from our efforts.”
The second most frequently cited benefit they discussed is the flexibility that comes with a DM position. They do not punch a clock and run the same routine day in and day out. Instead, they run their own schedule, and face a variety of challenges in different situations. Some mention “freedom,” and others discuss their “flexible schedule,” some mention “autonomy,” and others speak directly about facing “different challenges each day.”
What challenges do District Managers face in their work?
Unsurprisingly, the most prominent two challenges DMs discuss is their heavy work- and travel-load. DMs generally work long hours and frequently feel time-strapped due to lengthy travel. One DM explains, “I spend an average of 3-4 hours per day behind the wheel. If I had stores closer together, I could handle more locations.” Another says that they do not enjoy “being on the clock for the most part 24/7. It also can be difficult and stressful to work extra-long hours to prepare for time off, before or after.”
Additional challenges DMs face include feeling micro-managed and under-appreciated within the larger organization. They specifically mention problems with “upper management,” “micro-management,” or “lack of management support.” One DM said, “Corporate has zero idea of what I accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis.” Another just said, “I feel no connection to our corporate office.”
How do we build on their strengths and address their challenges?
In order to focus on the value that DMs provide, we have built CoEFFICIENT® to:
Give District Managers tools, so they coach more effectively and get back valuable time. With clear, transparent data across the entire enterprise, DMs can use relative performance metrics to influence and coach store management. But a DM’s duties don’t stop with analyzing data and performance metrics, which is why CoEFFICIENT provides action plans and comprehensive accountability, so change happens at a store level.
Help District Managers operate in person AND from afar, so travel is less of a barrier. Due to the unpredictable nature of retail, DMs do not always get a lot face time with Store Managers during their visits. DMs need to be able to communicate with Stores Managers when they both have the time, which means communication and collaboration tools that make long distance work feasible. If DMs can take care of actions in between visits, they can focus on the most important items in face to face meetings.
Improve transparency so everyone in the enterprise is in alignment. In companies with low visibility and poor communication across all levels of the organization, upper management might not know what is happening at the store or in the field. CoEFFICIENT provides transparency through the organization, so that upper management can be involved and understand the DMs priorities, but avoid micro-managing.
One DM in the survey explains, “I am the line between the corporate and the Stores, and we have created a culture of communication where the field speaks to all members of the corporate team. This builds better relationships for the Stores.”
At Square Root, we understand the key role the DM plays in multi-unit retail performance, and we want to equip them with comprehensive and powerful tools, so they can make all of their stores perform like their best store. Interested in learning more? Download the District Manager Report now.