Detail

Time - start with your team

This may be a familiar situation for you. The week starts with a vigour and a mindset of positivity and a list of actions you are going to achieve. Then within less than ten minutes of walking into work, you are ambushed with all sorts of unforeseen problems that you need to attend to.

Time. Having more of it. I can’t say that I have the answer, and there are may tools out there which help. Some work for some, some work for others. But, one thing I like to focus attention on is how your team views and uses their time.

When managing a team there are some key habits you can use to squeeze a lot more out of your team’s time, which can impact on your own time restraints. It’ll take some investment on your behalf, but the wins can be enormous:

  1. “I don’t have time” or “I have been too busy”. How many times do you hear this from your team when you are asking about a job they needed to do? If you kept a log of this, it would easily be in the high double digits every week. Let’s clear something up here – when one of your staff say either one of these phrases they are sending you a clear and loud message. The real message is: “I don’t care about it”. Or, to be more diplomatic, “It is not a priority to me”. Now, that you know what they are saying, you can now delve into the real issue – does this person have their priorities aligned with the business? This sets us up to have a great chat about improving the situation, and therefore saving you a huge chunk of time in the future.
  2. Less System is more. Processes and systems are so important. In retail, having simple but well drilled systems will be the difference between great customer service and fantastic sales versus inconsistency and frustration. However, before implementing new systems a great way to cut down wasted time is to audit your current systems and get rid of everything that is not efficient and effective. Minimising the volume of systems in your business will mean that you have a lot less to manage, communicate, and upkeep. Simple and strong is the name of the game.
  3. What are you going to do with it? As a manager or business owner, there are beautiful little windows of time that pop up. You know the ones. Its where everyone is set up, all customers are being served, you have your to-do list done, and you are free. You are actually free for 10 minutes, or 20, or maybe even longer! It doesn’t happen often, so there you are looking over everything, or sitting in your office, and you say to yourself “s#*@, what am I meant to do with myself!!!?” Because we are not used to this, it can freeze us, and because it is unfamiliar it can be really uncomfortable. So, be sure to have a plan. Jotting down a few key things you would like to do or work on if you had 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour to yourself a day, or a week is a great motivator and will also ensure that this time is used wisely – it’ll feel great.

Being buried in tasks can really hurt a retail business. Remember, you are the most influential person in the entire business. If you consistently run out of time to get everything done, or to enjoy your work, then it is not only tough, but it is also not going to be good for overall business. You don’t want that – it’s the opposite of what you want to achieve.

Using some easy to implement tools is the first step towards building a team with great capability leaving you with time to chase the fun stuff in your business.

The importance of pretty little things

Booking a hotel room throws up many different variables. I find it very difficult. Especially when you have never visited a holiday destination before. Recommendations from friends and using online social proof sites (Trip Advisor and the like) are the usual starting points. However, to make a final decision means making many calculations and assumptions with the perilous question of “what are we willing to compromise?” Then after some in-house power struggles, you throw-the-dice hoping for everything to work out well.

The dream is that you arrive with a pleasant surprise where the booked hotel destination over delivers, or at the very least, that you have booked something that you can categorise as good value, i.e. it is worth what you paid. On our last holiday where we had a mix of bad experiences balanced by delightful ones. I was left asking myself the question: what actually makes the difference as a consumer?

Good service makes the biggest impact. Right? But what about the food? The spaciousness? The cleanliness? The ease of making plans? The location? The noise (or lack of it)? They are all a part of the overall picture. For me, I came to the realisation that there is a very small detail that drives value in a customer experience. In fact, the smallest of details is crucial. I am referring to the small details. All of them!

Keeping with the theme of travel, my wife and I recently went to Indonesia. Like many Southern Asian cultures, I feel that they absolutely nail the small details with aplomb. The authenticity and beauty of their daily spiritual rituals where tiny palm-sized leaf trays are filled with flowers and complemented with burning incense is a wonderful example. These arrangements are placed in their mini shrines around their premises and are blessed as they go. This is also performed on the front step of retail outlets and cafes as everyday people walk past. I found it beautiful and engaging. When I looked at these arrangements closer they were so intricate and stunningly beautiful. The scent also became a memorable, which I still associate with that trip.

Another example of small details making a big impact is when we ate at a traditional Indonesian Café on the same trip. Here we witnessed the making and use of these beautiful miniature banana leaf cups which are secured in shape with a small toothpick. These cups are used to hold a small portion of rice, or condiments that come with your dish. In one small warung (a small family run café that houses the family room, kitchen, and guest dining room all in the one space with a BBQ on the front foot path) we had a magnificent dining experience. The family had three generations working the business, with a toddler causing her mother all sorts of headaches as she tried to feed her while the grandparents played with the baby. It was an intimate, traditional Indonesian food experience. The thing that stood out for me (other than the amazing food) was the preparation. These small handmade cups were meticulously formed with ingredients carefully put together, expertly cooked, and then portioned with a loving feel and touch being put into each of the small vessels. It was such a pleasure to watch. Almost therapeutic. It is this magical customer experience that we strive to create in our retail experiences – theatre, ascetic beauty, and a stimulating one-off customer experience. It is obvious to me that this family would not have known what you were talking about if you had mentioned any of these key retail customer experience terms to them.

These were only a few of the constant examples I saw on my trip that highlighted the source of where value is perceived by the consumer. The little touches, the smallest of small details. The details displaying our culture. Our values. Our mission. It is not a new idea for a business to get their small details right (even though many fail on this front).

To go a step further, make the small features a key element of the customer benefit. An opportunity many retailers can gain sales tractions with. Embrace your small opportunities – they make the difference in that infinite calculation that our consumer brains are constantly balancing up to answer the question – was this purchase of good value and am I going to rave about it to my friends?

I observe shoppers on a daily basis, and seeing people engage with the intricate details that display your brand’s DNA is a powerful way to impact your business and be memorable for all the right reasons.