Store symphony: 9 ways an orchestra conductor can help you become an effective store manager

Running a brick-and-mortar retail store is like leading an orchestra. You have musicians playing instruments from different families (workers with various roles), you play in front of a discerning audience (customers with little patience and high expectations), and the symphony is led by a conductor (i.e, store manager) directing his troupe through gestures. 

These gestures by the conductor make or break the orchestral performance. The ability to get the best out of the musicians lies in the skills and acumen of the conductor. One wrong gesture and the melody dips, the crowd sighs. Similarly, the performance of store associates in a retail establishment depends primarily on how the store manager leads them. One misaction, and efficiency wobbles, as a result customer satisfaction takes a hit.

Conductor or store manager, leading the troupe well is key. Only when a store manager perfects his ‘gestures’ will he be able to command his associates effectively and attain perfect symphony in his store.

Here are 9 ways an orchestra conductor can inspire you to be an awesome store manager. 

Know your team

An orchestra conductor knows exactly which troupe member is playing which instrument.

The right retail team is built if you know the members well. Your associates come from various backgrounds. It’s vital to know their strengths and weaknesses to set realistic targets, assign store responsibilities and create a well-defined career path. Teammate information should be at the back of your hand so that in-store problem-solving becomes more efficient.

Lead from the front

An orchestra conductor is in the forefront of all accolades or brickbats.

You are the store’s beating heart and so have a lot riding on you. If you take charge of the store well, it will rub off on your associates. If you are lackadaisical about, say, the store’s security or inventory count, it will create a poor impression and culture. Strong leadership skills is all about setting goals, providing training, respecting and empathizing with your employees and creating development opportunities. It’s equally important to stay calm during crisis, display confidence and show that you are not above any task.

Learn from mistakes

An unsatisfactory performance helps the conductor to prepare better for the future. 

Targets. Check. Checklists. Check. Compliance. Check. And yet it’s natural for mistakes to creep in in a dynamic store environment. It’s counter-productive to shout at your associates or admonish them publicly. The idea is to learn from the mistakes so that one can better judge a situation and tackle hurdles more efficiently in the future. Mentor an associate on his errors and reduction of error rates will naturally follow.

Encourage your colleagues

A conductor makes it a point to encourage, motivate and inspire his troupe during rehearsals so that they give a splendid performance.

Historically, store associates and blue-collar workers, like cleaners and security guards, have been neglected massively. It’s no wonder that has had a direct impact on employee satisfaction and attrition rates. The benefits of listening to your employees, recognizing their efforts and appreciating them far outweigh the risks of turning a blind eye to them. Employee engagement soars if employees stay happy. Great stores are not always build out of sales and performance, but compassion and inspiration.

Stay compliant

Conducting an orchestra also means staying loyal to the widely-accepted classical notes.

A must-do! In a world where regulations are turning stricter, just imagine the business loss of not staying compliant. Be it merchandising, inventory management or even daily cleaning and store surveillance, compliance to retail industry standards is not an option any longer. Your team should be well-trained in various compliance modules and also go the extra mile in following them to the T. A store that stays compliant automatically avoids business pitfalls.

Delegate and track tasks

The conductor keeps a keen eye out for performance niggles.

As a store manager, you should know right at the beginning of the day, what tasks you want completed before the store closes. This clarity – along with a sharp knowledge of your team, as we have seen before – helps you assign the right tasks to the right set of associates. Delegating tasks is only a job half-done. Tracking it regularly ensures your colleagues don’t shirk responsibilities and tasks get completed on time. To be a great task-master, you must stay on top of data all the time. These small bits go a long way in streamlining retail operations in your store. 

Interact with customers

An orchestra conductor’s performance improves by leaps and bounds if he knows the pulse of the audience.

It’s not only your teammates you should know properly but your customers as well. Don your store associate hat and have a light chat, assess their preferences, note their complaints, and see if you can go the extra mile to make them happier before they leave the store. This is a culture you must inspire in your associates as well. They must know the target customers, what to pitch them and how, and also be knowledgeable and courteous to handle their queries and requests adroitly.

Make the most of technology

Technology has invaded the traditional bastion of orchestra performances with iPads, mobile apps, etc.

In a world where the lines between online and physical retail are fast blurring, in-store technology is the new normal for customers and employees alike. A modern retail establishment comes with all the bells and whistles of modern technology. Be it CCTVs, POS systems, assisting robots, self-check-out kiosks or beacons for targeted discounts and proximity alerts, you must try to make the most out of the right technology for your store. Maintaining them well, training the staff about it and tracking them are essential.

Strengthen communication

Communication between the conductor and musicians takes place effortlessly through the former’s gestures.

One area that’s usually overlooked in retail stores is seamless communication. Either most staff members are looped out of company communication or there’s far lesser and rare exchange of important information and data taking place between them or even if it does, it takes place on highly unsecure public apps like WhatsApp. 

Two-way in-store communication gets a lease of life with an easy and secure mobile employee communication app that brings the entire workforce on the same page. Be it instant messaging, group chats or company announcements, an employee communication app makes communication easier, secure and more transparent in retail stores. As a bonus, it also improves employee engagement through polls, surveys and recognition posts, and drives productivity through in-built checklists and third party app integration.

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