Possessing up-to-date written store procedures for any function within retail is a rarity. Accurate procedures require time and effort to maintain and even more work to employ when training your associates. It is no exaggeration that over 90% of the clients we interact with do not have current written procedures.
When our firm does work with a retail client to update their procedures, we find that many times the retailer assumes that updated procedures should reflect current operating routines. The big miss here is that industry Best Practice improvements are typically not reflected in “current routines” and potential productivity improvements can be overlooked.
Industry Best Practice includes effective written store procedures
Retail industry Best Practice regarding operating procedures is to have key operating routines (processes) reviewed and benchmarked against industry norms by a qualified consulting group after approximately 5 years. Most retailers wait long beyond that mark and incur large consulting bills to identify and implement all the improvement changes that they will need to make. More frequent process reviews always mean fewer changes (to realize an improvement in productivity) need to be made and that productivity gains will occur more frequently, translating to lower overall operating expense.
The less discussed result of a procedure update effort is what you do with the newly updated and improved operating guides. Associate training is the answer. To make the new procedures investment worthwhile you need to employ them. A thoughtfully planned update effort will include the planning for an appropriate training effort and some form of business metric to monitor the improvement and guide future productivity.
There are various forms of training delivery available and the retailer should be aware of the pros and cons of each. Currently most retail organizations do not keep training departments as they once did. The current norm for operational training is on-line, self-directed training. While this method is quite cost effective and easily changed as required, it has proven to be less effective at behavior modification. Since most retailers will employ this means we do suggest that they have a method to monitor productivity before and after training has occurred and appropriately respond if newly minted operating procedures do not seem to be working. Should this occur, the new procedures are typically not the problem – it is how you trained the associates to use them.