Hardware Retailing

OCT 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | October 2017 82 Tips for Completing an Honest Store Critique 10 10 S tore owners throughout the industry have discovered that business critiques from other independent home improvement retailers help them become better operators. Ask a fellow retailer or two to walk through your store, interact with employees and study your financials. They may highlight problem areas you haven't noticed and show you how to make strengths even stronger. Do your own critiques as well, in a consistent, disciplined way so continual improvement is built into your company culture. Observe employees. An objective perspective from someone your staff doesn't know will help you assess how your employees are performing when you're not present and whether a positive work culture is evident to customers. A mystery shopper program can be useful for gauging how well your employees are serving customers. However, insight from another retailer who is experienced in hiring and training could be even more helpful for zeroing in on how to improve. Evaluate every product category, one at a time. Assessing a category by itself gives you or the retailer critiquing your business the opportunity to drill into department-specific questions. Is your high-end outdoor power equipment dusty? Is cable in the electrical department neatly coiled? Do you have the right product mix in your outdoor living category? Are your housewares still on trend? Could you earn better margins on your impulse products? Listen to customers. Take shoppers' questions and complaints seriously, and don't let them be forgotten, no matter how busy you get. If one person thinks your bathrooms are dirty or you hear about a poor customer service experience, pay attention. Write the comments down and address complaints quickly. If possible, make sure that no one else, including the shopper who complained, will have the same issue again. Providing cleaning checklists and retraining or replacing an employee could be the solutions you need. If those changes don't eliminate an issue, that could mean you have bigger problems to address. Plan for improvement. End every store critique by making a plan for action. Create detailed proposals for improving the problems your critiques have exposed. Assign the tasks outlined in your plans to specific employees who you know will take ownership of the projects. Then, work with your staff to set step-by-step goals with deadlines. Look at your store's interior appearance like a customer. Walk through your business from front to back and down each aisle and consider the merchandising, store cleanliness, organization and product outs. Are there better layout options? Is every department well-lit? Are the products creatively merchandised? Do the items on each shelf have their labels facing the aisle? Does your cross-merchandising make sense, and are the items in season? Do you see empty pegboards and messy shelves? 3 4 5 1 2

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