2018 State of the Store: Store Leaders Are Dissatisfied. Here’s Why.

DECEMBER 7, 2017

Your Store and District Managers, or Store Leadership, are your brand’s best advocates. They’re the face that every customer engages with, the first to build excitement around a new promotion, and the group that sets the example for store employees. 
Naturally, Store Leadership teams can make or break a store’s performance. It’s in the best interest of every brand to ensure they have the opportunities and tools to be successful. Yet, despite their significant influence over store performance, in researching for our 2018 State of the Store report, we found Store Leadership were, as a whole, alarmingly dissatisfied with their jobs.

“It is a lot of responsibility. It would be nice to feel like everything didn’t weigh on your shoulders.” – District Manager, Electronics

The report surveyed more than 1,300 Store and District Managers in the U.S. and Canada on their job satisfaction and store performance. We found Store Leadership reported an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)—an index that measures employee loyalty and engagement—at an average of -20. Even more startling, Department Store Managers reported the lowest eNPS, with a score of -33. Store Leaders from the Drug and Health industry reported the highest eNPS, with a score of -5. What’s driving their dissatisfaction? Their responses pointed to two leading factors: poor alignment and miscommunication.
We asked Store Leadership a variety of questions about their relationships strengths and weaknesses with corporate and the perceived impact on store performance. Of the questions asked, the leading factors that led to low employee satisfaction were poor alignment and miscommunication with corporate.

“Corporate doesn’t focus on the needs of every single store—they think one template fits all.” – Store Manager, Grocery and Convenience

Unhappy managers were more than 4X more likely to feel misaligned with corporate objectives than promoters, and corporate-to-store alignment emerged as one of the top challenges. They were also 21% more likely to report they struggle to understand key priorities. This is especially true for massive retailers with multiple store locations. In a perfect world, a one-size-fits-all solution would help Store Leadership maintain alignment with corporate. However, in reality, stores serving different demographics and regions can have wildly varied needs. For these larger retailers, a one-size-fits-all solution may not exist and Store Leaders are left to manage their needs on their own.

“Corporate doesn’t have the connection to my staff or my customers that my team does so they often make recommendations that don’t have that personal touch.” – District Manager, Food and Beverage/Restaurant

Fixing Store Leadership’s alignment and communication with corporate are two things that should be at the top of a retailer’s priority list, as they have a direct impact to their store’s performance. Eighty-percent of unhappy Store Leaders were more likely to say they struggle to understand priority actions needed to improve store performance when compared to promoters. This group was also 100% more likely to admit to manipulating data to make their store’s performance appear better than it actually is.
Retailers should take note: investing in Store Leadership could improve their quality of work. In fact, one in three Store Leaders say the number one thing that would most positively impact their store performance is better tools. Fortunately, alignment and the quality of communication are solvable issues with the right communication tools.

Communication tools should empower Store Managers to ask for clarity on objectives, and provide District Managers the information to give that direction. With better communication tools, vertical feedback is possible and Store Leaders are supported. Communication tools should also enable Store Managers to communicate horizontally with each other on issues that don’t need corporate resources.

Store Leadership feels misaligned because of poor communication and lack of resources to improve that communication. This can create high turnover and poor customer experiences. However, improved tools and better communication can help Store and District Managers feel empowered, giving them greater impact on their stores. Curious how you can give Store Leadership this same empowerment? Read our 2018 State of the Store report and see how you can drive retail forward.
Mary loves creating engaging copy that expresses the best story possible. As a member of our marketing and communications team, Mary works hard to communicate the value our products and Square Root’s mission with a positive attitude and a quick wit. Inspired by solutions and products that make people’s lives easier, she is fulfilled by knowing her work makes the world a better place one way or another. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in communication both from the University of Arkansas.