You need benchmarks for every store process.

[dropcap cap=I]’ve recently discovered a couple of things going on in my company. Staff members are being given too many projects to complete in a short period of time. A lack of coaching, observation or simple checking on progress seems to be a big problem, too, as does not providing negative consequences. Who in the world is winning with this? And why aren’t I doing a better job of managing this? I give talks on this issue![/dropcap]

Because ... I am human.

Now let’s bring this into the jewelry arena, with a focus on your repair department.

It’s my experience that most small companies do not do much in the way of creating best practices and establishing benchmarks. Best practices are processes, methods, or standards that have been validated with testing to be “the best.” Not just the best for you, but the best! Period.

Now given the above, most of us are not going to go into the jewelry world and see if a process has been validated or if we can do the same thing easier. For example: We take in a piece of jewelry for repair. We write up a job bag, get a quote from the jeweler, write it up, sell the repair to the customer, hopefully get some money, put the repair into a queue, do the repair, call the customer to tell them we are behind before they call us wanting to know where it is, and so on.

So what happens? We continue on. We get by. But most of the time, we don’t fix the process. In the repair example, we can find many areas where bottlenecks can occur. Maybe it’s as simple as adding a couple of days to when the jeweler says the job’s going to be ready. Maybe it’s adding a few more dollars to each repair and getting additional help. Maybe it’s using an outside resource to chip in when you’re behind. If there’s a hole or constraint that is preventing you from routinely delivering early and putting a smile on your customer’s face, then, my friend, you are losing the battle of survival and future profit.

It’s time to benchmark. Unless you set standards and establish a best practice for every step in the day-to-day processes in your business, loosey-goosey will come a callin’ and your business will suffer.

You’re not too small or too big to get this right. It’s not that difficult to understand and get wrapped around once you get started. So just do it. Maybe pick the repair example as your starting point and make it a smooth, efficient, and delightful experience for your staff and customers. Everyone will benefit.


[smalltext]Harry J. Friedman is founder and CEO of The Friedman Group, which provides retailers with reality-based sales and service methodologies for developing high-performance stores. For more information, visit www.thefriedmangroup.com.[/smalltext]

 

[span class=note]This story is from the May 2011 edition of INSTORE[/span]