If corporate is the brain of a multi unit retail enterprise, then store and district managers are the eyes and ears on the field. They work closely together to lead business strategies to victory at the center of the action.

Like most relationships, a successful partnership between store and district managers is a two-way street that requires strong communication skills and a high-level of trust. When a challenge emerges in the market, stores and district managers have to be on the same page in order to provide corporate with the field information they need to come up with a solution.

And like all other skills, building trust and fluent communication takes time and practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are your relationships with district managers. To help you create a strong foundation, we’ve created a checklist of 5 essential strategies for building a secure and communicative relationship with your managers:

  • Put Out the Biggest Fires First

It all starts with being prepared. Before you sit down with your district managers, rank your notes and talking points by priority. Which are the biggest fires that will require the most water (and discussion) to smother? This way, if your district manager is pressed for time, you’ll be ready with the most urgent information first. Make sure that the important issues are addressed before moving on to the next points. If you’re unsure about which point is the most important, ask yourself:

  1. Is this a safety issue?
  2. How much is this issue impacting overall store performance?
  3. Could this issue affect other stores?
  • Always Take Notes for Feedback

Your insider knowledge is a huge asset for district managers, and can help them with feedback on their business objectives. While discussing tasks and performance goals, be sure to take detailed notes about their approaches and ideas for performing complicated tasks. These notes are mutually valuable: district managers can make sure everything discussed was clear, and you are able to easily identify any obvious holes in information to be addressed later in the meeting.

Notes taken while completing tasks are also beneficial. Making note of completion markers as you complete your tasks not only keeps you accountable, but ensures that your district manager is informed on how things are going.

  • Illustrate Your Findings

Imagine sitting in a meeting where the presenter is delivering a healthy helping of sales data over time to show movement after your store has installed a new product display. Would you prefer to read a large spreadsheet of numbers, or a bar graph that has already analyzed the data and illustrates that movement for you? If you’re like most people, you probably prefer the latter. Your managers feel the same and will appreciate the visuals. Similarly, if you believe a new promotion will sell better if it were displayed in another area within the store, have photos ready to show it in stores and other sales charts that show traffic density within that area.

Visuals are a great way to communicate your talking points as clearly as possible. For information that requires a lot of numbers, facts, or well-illustrated scenarios, consider using graphs, charts, photographs, simulations, or models. You’ll be able to explain a lot of information in an engaging and easy-to-understand way.

  • Offer Yourself as a Resource

District managers are constantly under pressure to find new opportunities that will make their districts more efficient. Don’t be shy in offering your resources, knowledge, or insight to help their other stores. Doing so will allow you to engage and build relationships with your district manager at a higher-level (while you can help facilitate repeat success throughout the enterprise).

  • Don’t Leave Anything Unmentioned

If you don’t give feedback, you’re opening corporate up to missed opportunities. You have valuable information and insights that could help give the enterprise a competitive edge. Your district manager depends on that detailed information to help them communicate their progress to corporate. Concerns, questions, and opportunities that may impact the bottom line are always worth discussing.

It is always better to act with support from corporate than to take matters into your own hands. If a potential opportunity or concern comes up in the market, communicate your main talking points through an email or phone conversation and offer to meet and discuss an action plan. Just like the relationship between district and store managers is a two-way street, corporate and store managers need the same strong communication skills.

A productive relationship with the store manager is essential to the success of stores throughout a multi-unit retail enterprise. By taking time to build these relationships, you are equipping the eyes and ears in your enterprise with the confidence and tools to help the brain succeed. This is best done through open communication with the district manager.

Do you want to learn more about how building strong relationships between district and store managers can lead to financial success? Read our Store Relationship Management (SRM) white paper about our SRM platform and its impact on your corporate-store relationship.