As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard numerous tips to improve your business management. Set “SMART” goals, invest in ongoing education and training, avoid multi-tasking—the list could go on. All great tips when put together, but maybe not impactful enough individually to elevate your main street retailer.
But, you know what one thing can improve your small management business by itself? A focus on creating a company that your staff members enjoy working for.
It started in 2020 and became blatantly obvious in 2021 that companies everywhere were in a turnover bind. We could blame the shift to work from home, the changing health and safety recommendations, or the mental health challenges of working during a global pandemic—regardless, many companies saw employees leaving at unprecedented rates.
Each time you lose a high-performing employee, you lose the months or years of experience and knowledge that they gained when working at your company. And, you take on the cost to recruit, hire, and train a new employee in their wake.
If you want to improve the management of your main street retailer, start by keeping top-performing employees around for the long run. In this guide, we’ll discuss four strategies to improve your small business management with a focus on employees, including:
- Equip employees with all of the tools they need to do their jobs effectively.
- Increase traffic with online engagement.
- Reduce administrative tasks to free up time for what matters.
- Regularly solicit feedback from employees.
Not only will these tips create a better environment and improve employees’ mental wellbeing and engagement, but they’ll also make your business more efficient. Let’s dive in!
Equip employees with all of the tools they need to do their jobs effectively.
This Astron Solutions article summarizes it perfectly: “Empowered employees are more independent and require less supervision, which can save you time and energy… your employees will feel as though they have more of a stake in the business.”
When you give employees the tools they need to troubleshoot challenges, make on-the-spot decisions, and find needed information independently, they’ll come to you with fewer questions throughout the day. Not only will you suddenly have more time for your daily work, but they’ll feel more competent and confident in their skills as an employee.
“Tools” is vague, so let’s narrow down what that could look like for your team.
For a small business, the main tool you need to equip your team with is an effective point-of-sale (POS) system. An effective POS system should give employees a birds-eye view of your product and services, removing the need for employees to sort through cumbersome paper records. For example, Rain POS notes that with your retail POS, employees should be able to:
- View a digital inventory of all items in stock in real-time, to quickly answer customer questions about specific items.
- View records of class registrations, service and repair jobs, and rental contracts.
- Track customer loyalty program points and receive automated notifications for when a customer has earned a reward.
The right POS system should empower your staff members to formulate a response to any standard customer questions that come up throughout the day. Of course, empowering your team requires more than simply giving them access to technology— you’ll also need to train them to use the system effectively. We recommend investing in a solution that’s created to simplify main street retailer management to minimize any headaches.
Increase traffic with online engagement.
Let’s be honest—for many, working during a global pandemic has led to a significant decrease in morale. Not only did many people juggle new, unexpected responsibilities (like managing school education from home and navigating health guidelines), but for many, there was also the added stress of income loss and job instability.
It’s likely that your small business saw significant lows over the past two years, whether you’re used to offering in-person classes that had to be paused temporarily or you saw decreased foot traffic as customers had less to spend.
It’s hard to work for a company that’s not thriving. By increasing the foot and online traffic to your store—and with it, the sales—you can increase the morale of your employees. A few ways to do this include:
Creating an effective marketing website.
Maintain a website that lists basic information about your business (location and hours) as well as an upcoming event schedule and full inventory. This allows customers to peruse all of your offerings before coming into the store and can build excitement.
Consider investing in a retail POS that has the built-in ability to create marketing websites, including templates for quick page creation and real-time sync between in-store and online inventory.
Collecting online reviews from past customers.
Word of mouth can be a game-changing force for small businesses. For big-box retailers, their name alone drives sales—for example, there’s little worry that a company like Amazon is going to disappear and simply not deliver the items they’ve promised.
Small businesses don’t quite have that same comfort. For many customers, the first time they hear of your business might be the minute they walk through the door. But, if they encounter a number of positive online reviews before stopping by, they might feel more confident trusting you with their purchase, work order, service request, or class registration.
Invest in a POS that will send out automated requests for Google and Facebook reviews to happy customers. Considering the care your employees give to each customer interaction, you’re likely to have a number of happy customers that would be open to leaving a positive review. These positive notes will slowly build your business’s reputation.
These efforts increase your local small business’s visibility online, not only increasing both online and foot traffic but empowering you to be competitive with big-box retailers that currently dominate the eCommerce space. And when your business is more successful, your employees will feel more successful.
Reduce administrative tasks to free up time for what matters.
Your small business operates in a specific niche, and you hired the employees you did because they have a passion for that niche—whether that’s local musicians working in a guitar store, lifelong quilters in a fabric shop, or dive instructors in a scuba shop.
These employees don’t want to be bogged down with administrative tasks all day. They want to speak with customers about their shared interest in your niche product or service—that’s why they accepted a job with your small business in the first place!
Invest in a POS system that streamlines administrative tasks, so employees can spend more time doing what they love. Beyond the payment processing itself, seek features such as:
- Automated Reminders: This means that employees can send out text and email reminders to customers automatically. For example, let’s say you operate a dive shop. You could schedule a reminder to customers about an upcoming group dive they registered for. Or, if they rented scuba equipment, you could set a timetable to send a reminder when that equipment should be returned to the store.
- Automated Inventory Updates: This means that when an item is sold out in store, it will be removed from the online inventory shown on your website in real-time. So for example, if you operate a quilt store, your quilt and fabric store POS should update your website as soon as a specific type of fabric is out of stock. Or if you break down remnants from a bolt of fabric to fat quarters or for kits, it can be easily adjusted in your inventory. Then, dedicated quilters will only be reviewing your available materials when viewing your site.
These are both necessary, but not necessarily interesting, tasks. By automating them, the tasks are still completed—but staff members don’t need to spend time doing them.
Final Tip: Regularly solicit feedback from employees.
Increasing employee satisfaction is key to improving your small business management. The previous three tips are a great starting point—giving employees the tools, foot traffic, and time they need to shine.
To wrap up, remember to check in with your employees to solicit feedback on areas for improvement. You might find out that a specific process, like your scheduling procedures, is more cumbersome than valuable for employees. You might find that there is a gap in your current technologies that could easily be resolved with a slight adjustment to your POS solution. Or, you might receive ideas for ways to increase employee engagement, such as implementing a workplace philanthropy program.
While you may not implement all of the employee feedback, they’ll appreciate the opportunity to be heard and have their ideas considered!
Brian King, Co-Founder & CRO of Rain Retail Software
Brian has a degree in Business Management from the BYU Marriott School of Business, 10 years of small-business marketing experience, and over 13 years of direct sales experience. To date, Brian has worked with thousands of main-street retailers to help improve their online presence and performance. Rain specializes in point of sale and website software for specialty retailers.