Area manager are a crucial piece in retail organizations as he/she transmits the management strategy to stores and restaurants. To do this, they travel often, and part of their management is done remotely, so their biorhythms need to adapt to specific management rituals. These rituals include visits to the units, weekly video calls, daily emails, area meetings, product launches, etc. The area manager needs to distinguish between the important and the urgent to increase the effectiveness of his rituals. We are going to detail some of these rituals and provide the keys so that they are properly developed to increase the positive impact on their teams and on their own management.
The email of the area manager
This common form of communication is an abuse in many companies, hundreds of emails are stored in the inbox of a area manager. We not only have to pay attention to quantity, but to quality: sometimes they are long, repetitive and boring. Some suggestions for writing emails are the following:
- The subject of the email must be precise (encompassing the general message) and short (no more than 6 words).
- Mark the option “urgent” when it is really urgent. If almost all are marked as urgent, that “urgency” is diluted.
- Capital letters and exclamation marks (!!) can be interpreted as aggressive.
- Bold, underlining and italics can be used sporadically to highlight something specific, without overdoing it.
- The body of the text should not be longer than 10-15 lines.
- The courtesy must also be kept in writing.
- If the topic is sensitive, it may be better to discuss it in person.
- The spacing between paragraphs gives a sense of order and structure.
- Use multiple shipping with caution, especially if it is sent to store managers and higher hierarchical positions.
- Spelling and style checking is a non-negotiable standard for an area manager.
- Be careful with humor or irony. The recipient does not see the writer’s face or hear a tone of voice to interpret the meaning. Emoticons can make up for it to some extent.
- It can be useful to use editing software to make the email attractive with photos, graphics, etc., especially with informational emails.
The weekly video launch on WhatsApp
How do you have to build this video message to make an impact?
- Positive and convincing tone, looking at the camera.
- Do not record against the light and the camera at eye level.
- Share the results of the previous week without boring you with details.
- Congratulate stores or restaurants on their KPI achievements.
- Express your gratitude to a seller who has agreed to change the store to cover a time off sick.
- Request initiatives for new promotions.
- Indicate which stores you will visit during the week.
- Duration of no more than 90 seconds.
Visiting stores: presence 100%
As a link between the headquarters and the points of sale, the area manager must take care of empathy and the visit itself. Visits must be scheduled so that store managers prepare them, although on specific occasions it may appear by surprise. So one goal of the visit is to empower the store manager. Perhaps it is he/she and not the area manager who has to write the report indicating the key figures, the diagnosis and the agreed action plan. The area manager will receive it and provide its added value, correcting and validating from their perspective.
The individual weekly video call
Many area managers travel thousands of kilometers a year, with the consequent fatigue, back pain and stress. Thus video calls with applications such as Zoom, WhatsApp or FaceTime can replace 1/3 face-to-face visits. To be effective, it is necessary:
- Fixed and structured schedule, with a duration of 15 minutes and breaks between sessions every 45 minutes.
- It is an ideal format for coaching because both people are seated and concentrated.
- The store manager generates commitments and sends a summary email in the next few minutes.
- Area manager has before him the scorecard and the commitments of the previous session.
- He can request a tour of the store with the phone, showing the merchandising, the store, the vendors …
The zone meeting
The zone meeting requires specific rules to be successful:
- Previous agenda: the regional director must send it a week before to those in charge so that they can insert topics if they need.
- Preparation: if the area manager is going to request specific interventions from his managers, he must notify them in advance.
- Roles: the timekeeper notifies when each participant has 1 minute left to speak and the secretary takes notes and sends them the next day.
- The pineapple of the word: only one person speaks at a time and the pineapple, like any other object, symbolizes the turn to speak.
- Animation in coach mode: the meeting leader can invite participants to reflect in writing and share their ideas. At CapKelenn we use “tests express”, written questions that require an answer on a scale of 0 to 10. For example: “How effective has the Christmas promotion been?”
- Check-in and check-out: the question “how are you?” allows you to calibrate the energy and “what do you take?” creates an environment of sincerity.
- Punctuality: the door closes at the indicated time. Everyone’s time is important.
- Alliance: the rules of the meeting are built between everyone (speaking turns, rest time, courtesy …).
- Games: ideal for re-energizing. There are many games, but an example can be: the coach hands each person a post-it and plays music. When he stops it, a circle is generated and each one places the post-it on the back of the closest colleague and writes a quality of this person.
- Walking coaching: retail lives on foot, so the area manager looks for animations so that participants get up and continue working. The area manager delivers mission letters to each group of 2-3 people, they go outside to talk about the mission. When they return, they should share the fruit of their reflection in 1 minute. This is how creativity is generated, benchmark.
The team video call with the area manager
A group videoconference can be an alternative to innovate and, of course, a necessity in the middle of a pandemic situation. Video call is practical, cheap, saves time and transportation costs, reduces carbon footprint, the visual impact is higher than the sound of a phone call, etc. But video call also has a number of rules:
- Clear invitation with access links validated by each participant.
- The area manager must create the group in advance and contact everyone in a single call.
- The “share screen” option is very useful for sharing visual and synthetic documents.
- Ensure the quality of the connection, being preferable the network cable instead of WiFi.
- Wear headphones to listen and make yourself heard better.
- Settle in a quiet place and avoid interruptions.
- It is advisable to connect 3 minutes before to offer a more relaxed space as if it were a meeting in person.
- The initial check-in (“how are you?”) and the final check-out (“what do you take?”) are doubly important.
- Speaking a little slower and modulate the voice.
- Perhaps humor does not work as well as in person.
- The area manager gives and recovers the floor. So he keeps everyone’s attention.
- Tests express are very useful for quick evaluations.
- ATROMI animation method: Accommodation (welcome and thanks); Topic (summarize what to talk about); Rules (rules during the session); Objective (what is intended to be achieved in the meeting); Method (phases of the meeting); Information returned (feedback, doubts and suggestions).
The public discourse of the area manager
Some networks organize conventions or launch events in which the area manager must present a speech. Speaking in public can be scary, so we’ve summarized a few tips to help improve:
- Rehearse and practice over and over again
- Record trials and analyze them to detect areas for improvement
- Abdominal breathing
- Drink water before speaking to relax
- The introduction and the conclusion are the two most relevant parts, so they have to be impactful and energetic.
- Visual technique of the M: look at 5 people united in the shape of an imaginary M. This gives the audience the feeling of covering the entire room.
- Rehearse storytelling: know how to tell anecdotes and test them before with friends. In addition, it is ideal that it includes a touch of humor.
- Non-verbal communication: modulate the voice to alter moments of energy with more relaxed moments; feet well anchored; straight body posture, etc.
- Silence generates authority and knowing how to handle times of silence is essential.
- Be inspired by professional speakers.
- Practice theater.
- Never apologize for not knowing how to speak in public.
The SAAR model
The area manager is also related to the top management with whom it has to be aligned. He has to help his boss decide and to do this he has to build trust and legitimacy. For this, the SAAR model can be applied:
- Situation: describe the current situation clearly, briefly and objectively.
- Alternatives: although viscerally you want to promote a solution, the data can raise several alternatives.
- Analysis: evaluate each alternative objectively and with data in hand. The cost, ROI and consequences of each alternative are measured.
- Recommendation: the area manager should involve, give his opinion as if it were his business.
This communication system generates a progressive trust between the boss and the area manager and can proactively give rise to feedback that positively affects the results. This method is, in short, an aid for decision making.
These recommendations are some of those that you can find in the book of Benoit Mahé Retail Coaching: how to boost KPI’s with Emotions.