The phone rings. The email dings. The customer clings. The UPS driver brings.
When you run a retail store, your schedule is not your own. Too many distractions, too many variables, too many interruptions for you to get any kind of time to work ON your business.
Yet if you don’t get those orders placed, those forms filled out, those bills processed and paid, you won’t have a business to work on. How do you find the time?
BEFORE AND AFTER
The easiest way is to come in early or stay late. I used to drop my boys off at school at 7:15am and get two whole hours of uninterrupted work before the store opened. I know some retailers who take their work home and do some of it in the evening after the kids are in bed.
Unless you get to leave early or come in late, those time slots make for long days. Use those opportunities accordingly.
HIRE MORE PEOPLE
If you are scheduled to work the sales floor more than 75% of your time at the store, you need to hire another worker ASAP. A part-timer working 10-15 hours a week will give you that much more time to do what you need to do.
If you’re trying to get other work done in between the customers while out on the sales floor then you are NOT giving either your full attention or best service.
You’re hurting your business if you try to do both at the same time. You’re costing your business the money it would have to pay for that part-timer.
More time to work ON the business means more time for marketing, more time for keeping inventory levels balanced, more time for planning training sessions. All of those lead to more revenue to pay for the extra help and then some.
As long as you …
EMPOWER YOUR EMPLOYEES
Give your employees the skills, the responsibility, and the green light to solve all of your customers’ problems. Let them handle all the unhappy customers who want to speak to a manager.
Teach your employees how to handle cold calls (which ones to blow off, which ones to reschedule, etc.). I had a hard, fast rule on cold calls. If you stopped by my business and this was the only time I could sign up for your program, then I didn’t want it. Period. Anything that has to be decided “under the gun” is never going to be in your favor.
Let your staff know you are in a block of undisturbed time. No phone calls forwarded, no cold calls, no customer complaints, no “quick questions”. Take a message for later. (Note: give them parameters for what is a reasonable reason for a disturbance such as a visit from government officials or the police, a friend in the store from out-of-town, a car crashing through the front window, etc.)
LABEL YOUR TIME
When you make your schedule, label your time. It doesn’t have to be labeled publicly, but you need to label it internally so that you know your priority for each block. It could be something general like “Order Writing” or more specific like, “Order LEGO.”
The better you label your blocks, the more productive you will be.
While it has been scientifically proven that we cannot truly multi-task, some people are better at switching gears back and forth between projects and interruptions than others. Even if you are blessed with that skill, your business will be even more blessed when you build blocks of time solely for the purpose of working ON your business.
Now you know how.
PS I liked two-hour windows of time. Two solid hours is a long time for you to do one thing. After that your production will decrease over time. If you can get two of those blocks a day, you’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish.