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ELEMENT #3: Job Description
The next step after developing an organizational chart is to develop precise Job Descriptions that illustrate the duties, functions and responsibilities of each individual in the organization. Precise job descriptions enable all members of an organization to understand what management's expectations are, and how department and employee performance will be measured and rewarded. A problem common to most retail organizations in our industry is that associates and managers find themselves doing everything. There is lots of redundancy in their roles. Nobody can be held accountable because no one is really in charge.
You know when accountability is an issue when you hear, "I didn't know that was my job. No one told me." Even worse, organizations without job descriptions find that processes and procedures are consistently performed incorrectly.
A similar problem may also exist at the department head level. Ill defined organizations find that department heads constantly tread water, and live from day to day without making progress toward organizational goals. Often, each department head will have his or her own agenda that has nothing to do with the goals and objectives of the company. In such organizations, poor communication between departments that are in conflict with one another will sabotage organizational goals, and nobody will even realize it.
ELEMENT #4 Departmental Business Plans
In order to unify the organization, bring departments together, and work as a team, each department needs to draft and adopt a Business Plan. These individual plans should be created with the objective of contributing to the main corporate plan.
Sharing departmental business plans helps to foster teamwork, because every department head has access to information about the direction of every other department. Better interdepartmental directives give organizations a unified, clear direction. They also move organizations towards a goal-oriented problemsolving approach rather than a simple task orientation that emphasizes "putting out fires" and placing "Band-Aids" on problems as they occur. Once everyone is on the same page, departmental managers will better understand corporate expectations and expect to be held accountable for their performance.
ELEMENT #5 Communication
Another issue that plagues furniture retailers is a general lack of Communication. Most organizations have few written directives, policies or procedures. This creates problems when situations are handled in different ways depending on the person handling them. Inconsistency and uneven performance ends up being expensive for any organization, and more importantly, will cause it to lose business and sacrifice customer loyalty. Consequently, policies and procedures need to be put down in writing in an Operating Procedures Manual that will help to solve a number of problems endemic to retail organizations.
When new employees have no written reference to guide them, they need to ask for help. The most common result is that the advice they get from co-workers or managers has a good chance of being inaccurate or inconsistent with corporate goals.
Another problem that arises in the absence of a written reference guide is that routine verbal communication with Associates permit issues to "fall between the cracks" because initiatives and instructions fail to be clearly understood or
"If it ain't written, it ain't real."
accomplished. The old saying, "if it ain't written, it ain't real" should be a motto for retail managers. Verbal instructions that are perceived as merely discussion, have limited short-lived impact. Whether you use hard copy, e-mail or voice mail, a defined communications process must be established to adhere to in every instance. When associates are given a hard copy reference, they will better understand the needs of the organization and their specific responsibilities based on those needs.
ELEMENT #6 Sales Floor Policies
The sales floor is an area that tends to breed inconsistencies and conflicts that can only be resolved with written Sales Floor Policies. Rules that guide the operation of the sales floor are necessary, not only for sales consultants, but also for managers. Without written guidelines, managers are given carte blanche to interpret corporate policies. Written rules give organizations a better chance of providing consistent responses to customers. This helps to avoid confusion and provides a better customer experience. Floor policies also provide sales management with the tools to illustrate performance expectations and eliminate "gray areas" of interpretation.
ELEMENT #7 Policy & Procedure Manual
A Policy and Procedure Manual is a critical tool to help organizations be more consistent, eliminate errors and reduce expenses. Every department should be responsible for the development of a precise procedure manual.
As departments grow and add new people, the orientation and learning process becomes critical to its success. To create a policy and procedures manual is not an easy task. Someone within the organization must take responsibility as the "policy and procedure champion" and coordinate, organize and manage this process. Without the establishment of this tool, the ultimate loser will be your customers. They will receive inconsistent performance, and that in turn will decrease customer loyalty.
Finally, you will be on speaking terms with your POS software!
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