In any multi-unit organization a “tension” can exist between in-store managers and those “at corporate” that has a direct effect on store performance across all of your stores. In some franchises, where the company’s and individual franchisee’s goals are not always in alignment, the tension may be very evident. In systems where stores are owned and operated by the company, the tension may be less at the surface, but it’s there. It lies somewhere between corporate leadership’s sentiment of “why can’t we be more nimble as a company,” and the store manager’s lament of, “Corporate now wants us to do what? Don’t they know we have customers to serve?”
Corporate managers understand that the “action” that creates value at their companies lies out there in the stores. That is, that the engine of economic and brand value creation in a multi-unit enterprise is driven by the collective interactions of all in-store associates with its customers, and thus all other activities should be in service to improving these interactions. To that end, many companies adopt the “inverted pyramid” model. The model is put forth as a recognition that all resources at corporate, and all resources in the field, are there to support and improve the in-store staff that create customer experiences. To roughly paraphrase one of Square Root’s operationally excellent customers:
“If you aren’t personally serving customers, then you better be serving someone who is.”
In an established multi-unit enterprise, 95% of the problems or issues confronting your employees have been encountered and solved somewhere in the company before. A company’s field management and operations team is there to find and deliver coaching, resources, and best practices to the store management teams that need them. Improving the performance of all stores therefore starts with a commitment by those at corporate and in the field to best serve their stores. Of course, for those issues that are new and or unique, corporate and field are there to help craft solutions.
Unfortunately for some companies, adopting the inverted pyramid of serving stores is very difficult in practice. Trying to drive any initiative through a multi-unit chain at times must feel like a massive game of “telephone.” A corporate merchandiser or other leader who is working in the interest of the stores, “launches” their initiative by piggy-backing on the company’s established lines of store communication. From there, sadly, “hilarity ensues” as well planned initiatives enter a mish-mash of communication channels, competing priorities, and directly mis-aligned instructions to store management. Leaders at corporate have little confidence that the impact of their well laid plans has been received by those who are there to execute them. What’s more, the dribble of feedback that comes back on what is and is not working is mixed, unclear, and too late to act on! And with all that, comes “the tension.”
Whether it is right on the surface or hidden beneath it, the “tension” is a real drain on multi-unit performance. This tension manifests in hundreds of different inefficiencies tied to interactions across your corporate, field, and store teams that in turn erode performance at the individual store level. Excuses become the norm. “The new advertising campaign didn’t work because the in-store execution wasn’t there.” “Our store couldn’t deliver on our numbers because corporate won’t allow us to hire more people.” “The merchandisers at corporate don’t understand how the market in my district is different.”
Store Relationship Management (SRM) as a category of software equips companies to make the inverted pyramid model work. SRM streamlines the activities used to support your stores, while at the same time driving the accountability of in-store management teams to deliver results. It improves system-wide performance by focusing on the ongoing interactions between corporate, field, and in-store employees. The emphasis on “relationship” management is not a soft, well-meaning effort to help people “like” each other more. Instead, the goal of improving cross-organization process and accountability has a hard, tangible business value—remove “the tension” that impedes performance. The SRM Approach builds trust across the organization that creates great teams and grows iconic retail brands!
Every day, our Store Relationship Management platform, CoEFFICIENT®, helps organizations align to actions that drive performance. Interested in our data-driven solution for your organization? Learn more about Store Relationship Management now.