There’s Profit in People

If you are Qantas and facing a $1 billion blow-out in your fuel costs you may have no other option. But in retail – outside the dominant profit through volume retailer who will more than likely be mostly self-serve – focussing on store staff as a pure cost is missing the opportunity.

In 90% of retail stores it is the people who power the profit. Learning how to gain higher productivity from your people is the key to success, not trying to restrict your staff costs.

Some of the best retailers in the world do some very simple things to accomplish this. One of them is to ask their front line sales-force how the business could better support them to achieve higher sales outcomes. Store sales staff are wonderfully pragmatic and creative about finding ways to make higher sales.

The other is to ask them to observe their customers and note the customers issues. This is the most powerful form of research you can do.

The best retailers make both habitual and ask for a weekly summary of the top five ideas to improve sales and the top five customer issues from each store. They collate them and look for patterns. Once they see something that is recurring across the network, they develop an initiative and test it in a sample of stores.

If there is a productivity lift, they roll it out. It’s a no brainer. Profit from you people. They are closest to the customers and feel the pressure every day to make the targets. They are incentivised to find ways to do things better, as long as they feel you are listening and will support them.

So when are you going to unleash the power of your people?