Part 2: Technology Solutions for District Managers

According to the 2015 District Manager Report, District Managers (DMs) are ready to embrace technology to run their territories more efficiently. In this post, we’ll share how DMs currently use technology, how daily job challenges can be supported by technology, and how investing in technology for DMs can benefit the entire business.

District Manager Technology: “The 200-Page Binder”

For most DMs, work is managed through a patchwork of software and devices. They use a combination of email, spreadsheets, word processing, and proprietary software (like point-of-sale systems) to prepare for, conduct, and report on store visits. There’s no system of record, or “single source of truth” to guide conversations and workflow.

Additionally, DMs identified paper printouts, alongside phones and laptops, as the top devices used. Anecdotally, in conversations with both district and store managers, “the binder” is not an uncommon way to track the business. In fact, one contact at a Fortune 500 retailer recently told us he prints out a 200-page binder every single week to manage his store data – but he only looks at one metric in the entire binder!

It makes one wonder – if all this data exists in multiple tools and printouts and devices, how can DMs effectively manage the complexity of data and action items across their networks of stores?

District Manager Challenges: Time and Accountability

Perhaps not surprisingly, a DM’s number one challenge is having enough time with Store Managers during visits. With DMs each managing an average of 10-15 stores, and given the chaotic nature of stores, DMs cannot ensure that they will receive an hour or two of valuable, face-to-face conversation with store managers. Going further, if we can’t even ensure that face-to-face meetings will happen, then how do DMs make non face-to-face time more useful?

But looking at the data, this is only one part of the DM story. Even if DMs can find more time with store management, this doesn’t ensure that stores will take their recommendations and make real change. According to the survey, 60% of DMs say the willingness of store management to accept advice and change is challenging.

Many times, companies know what stores could do to improve performance, and yet they can’t get it done. Other times, companies aren’t quite sure what the next steps should be, which means it isn’t getting done there either. So how can DMs help drive accountability with Store Managers?

Technology for District Managers: A New View

Most companies have focused on technologies that improve consumer shopping experiences, rather than focusing attention on technologies that improve internal processes. However, companies have realized focusing on their internal workflow can improve a company’s overall performance. Think about it: if DMs ditched the binder and had a single source of truth for store performance metrics, then consultative conversations could begin. Rather than discussing which metrics matter, DMs and Store Managers can have data-driven communications around actionable metrics that improve financial performance and provide brand consistency.

Ultimately, software technologies that emphasize collaboration, accountability, and action planning can truly empower DMs. With better technology and smart software, DMs can make all of their stores look like their best-performing stores.  

Interested in learning more? Download our 2015 District Manager Report.