Retail Audit Best Practice #2: Execute Consistently While Keeping Each Location Unique

Different franchisees execute…differently

Assuming your brand consists of more than a handful of stores, you cannot know how stores really execute unless you have processes and auditing software to help you with this. Operators execute differently. Franchisees may have different inclinations and priorities based on their own experience and sensibilities. There is nothing wrong with that (people are not robots), but you need to make sure that the core standards and programs that are the backbone of the brand’s strategy are indeed implemented in full, everywhere and every time. Audits align the vision and expectations of head office with the reality on the ground.

Customers have expectations. Don’t let them down.

Customers come into your stores with expectations. They don’t expect, and don’t want, your sales staff to behave like robots either but they also don’t want to be let down. No one likes a messy store, unlabelled products and unfriendly staff. No-one likes to wait because the store is disorganized, poorly trained or badly run. That is precisely why retail brands seek consistency and why consistency is a floor, not a ceiling.

Consistency is a guarantor of minimum standards.

Consistency ensures that your stores will minimally operate at a certain level that is designed to satisfy your customers, drive your sales and protect your brand. Consistency is a floor, a minimum set of standards that must be met by all. It protects the brand from poor execution and the outliers that might be few and far between but can do so much damage to a brand, particularly in the age of social media.

Consistency does not have to be a ceiling.

A district manager won’t take exception to your staff being too friendly or too helpful with a customer. She won’t complain that the seasonal program was too well executed or your store was too adequately staffed. Every retailer knows and understands that every store can and should be wonderfully unique in some respects. Seeking consistency does not mean you turn your store staff into preprogrammed robots. It does not mean you can’t reach for the moon and exceed standards.

Consistency protects the brand from the outliers, the racers to the bottom, the usurpers of a brand’s reputation. It does not impede excellence in execution, great customer service and the uniqueness of each retail location.

This post is part of the “Retail Audit Best Practice” series.

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