“Doing more with less” became a common theme for many companies during the economic downturn. Budgets were slashed. Employees were let go. Morale took a nosedive. And those “lucky” remaining employees who were left to pick up the pieces were required to do a whole lot more with a whole lot less support.
Since then, workload and profits have picked up, but hiring has not – as managers focused on the bottom line they remain hesitant to rehire. In fact, most retail chains have less resources as a percentage of their overall store portfolio today than they did five to ten years ago.
So what does this mean for the chain store executive who is still required to work more, with an ever-expanding real estate portfolio? He needs to do more by working smarter with less. In other words, become much more strategic and much less tactical.
Four keys to doing more (and working smarter) with less:
- Build the right team: Human capital is the greatest asset of any business, and compiling the right team of quality people – both internally and externally – is critical to its success. It’s not the number of employees that matters, but instead the skill sets those employees possess. A smart executive identifies and develops those skills, which benefits both the employee and the company – a true win-win. A smart executive also provides a clear and shared vision to its team, which becomes the backbone of the business and the unifying tool that keeps teams working collaboratively and successfully through any challenge. Teamwork fueled by a strong vision can make a company a wonderful place to work. At the end of the day, having a skilled, qualified and committed staff working alongside the chain store executive enables him to focus his efforts on strategy and, ultimately, growing the business.
- Streamline, streamline, streamline: Streamlining processes, eliminating waste through Six Sigma practices and implementing the right technology are all perfect examples of doing more – by working smarter – with less. Streamlining processes saves a lot of time and money while ensuring consistency. Eliminating waste through Six Sigma practices drives more value for the customer, more capacity to deliver that value and more capability in the organization. And implementing the right technology is the best way to maximize returns on your most precious resources – your people – to ensure that their time is being spent wisely. Data is tactical and the right technology can transform that data into useful, strategic information.
- Leverage critical information: With the right technology in place, the chain store executive is able to closely analyze its various technology outputs such as cost metrics, schedule metrics, facility condition assessments and more in order to accurately strategize, plan and forecast for the future. Having access to this critical information enables the executive to better understand his business, make more informed decisions and anticipate the customers’ needs. At the end of the day, leveraging this critical information allows the executive to do more – and work smarter – with less.
- Focus on value: In a time where everyone is doing more with less, how does the chain store executive juggle all of the tasks thrown at him from a million different directions? By applying the Pareto Principle, which states that 20% of an individual’s activities provide 80% of the value. To deliver the most bang for the customers’ buck, the chain store executive should be focused on value-driven activities, which include investing more time with the internal customer to gain a better understanding of their needs, developing a strategy for creating that value, developing key performance indicators that measure and track value delivered and ultimately reporting upon his success. Because, at the end of the day, the value that’s delivered to customers is what keeps them coming back for more.
In an increasingly busy world, "working smarter" can be a win-win proposition for today’s chain store executive. Serving to cut costs and increase profitability, this concept can be achieved simply by taking the right steps to streamlining business. When combined with the right processes, technology and know-how, an organization can truly “do more (by working smarter) for less” and enjoy a leaner, yet efficient headcount that drives profitability, cash flow and organizational growth.
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