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Store Operations and Facilities in Retail: Opposites May Not Attract, but They Can Work Well Together

Store Operations and Facilities in Retail

For every decision made by the facilities team in a retail environment – from maintenance and energy to design and construction – store operations are the primary stakeholders in those decisions. So, what is the relationship between store operations and facilities?

These groups may work closely together within some retail organizations, but that is not always the case. While the overall goal for both groups in a retail environment is the same, there are several differences between them that may make it difficult to work together toward that goal. Yet, recognizing these differences and using them to understand how the other group works can result in opportunities to enhance facility processes and improve store operations – and ultimately provide a better customer experience.

In general, one of the biggest differences is that the facilities team works “behind the scenes” and the store operations team is often interfacing directly with consumers. With facility management, the focus is more on capital and finding innovative ways to enhance processes that reduce costs or result in energy savings, while the performance of the store operations is measured by sales. This results in a large amount of external or market-based pressure on operations, while the pressure on facilities comes from within the organization. Store operations professionals often have a sales, marketing or business mindset, while the facilities team is likely made up of professionals with engineering backgrounds. There is often higher turnover within the operations team, and a store director or captain often has a larger team to manage. Operations may consist of about 300 employees, while facilities may have, on average, about 10-20 employees.

Below are six tips for the facilities team to work together with the store operations team to enhance facility processes and improve operations:

  • Engage more. Be more visible and engage with them.Take the time to go out to the stores and engage with the operations team, if you are able to.
  • Use facilities data in their report formats. Ask the store manager to see his/her daily or weekly store report to better understand how the store is measured. Find out the areas they tend to focus on most. Take the facility maintenance and energy data you’ve compiled and provide it to the store team in a format that will fit well in the report shared with their manager.
  • Relate what you do with how they are measured. Take the areas where store operations is evaluated – i.e., total sales, dollars sold per hour worked, average items per sale, margin and shrink – and, if it makes sense, find ways to equate them to case availability, dollars sold per alarm, dollars sold per maintenance hour, margin loss of energy increases and shrink related to refrigeration issues.
  • Educate. Identify opportunities tohelp the store operations team better understand your strategy and processes. Consider implementing an energy awareness program or invest time in store awareness mechanisms. You may post photos for associates to show how to properly stock a case. Sharing infrared images with store directors can help them see when a case has been overstocked, which to reduce customer complaints about cold aisles.
  • Help their staff be efficient. Provide the store operations team with tools and information that can allow them to work more efficiently.
  • Make training easy. Simplify training on facility maintenance processes for store operations. Show them what to do when a problem occurs and explain the way a system works to illustrate why your approach is the best way to relegate the issue.
  • Eliminate nuisance calls and false alarms. This may be the biggest one on the list. Too many false alarms and nuisance calls can harm your relationship with the store operations team. If you are able to ensure that the alarms and calls they receive occur only when an issue needs to be addressed, a store director will place higher importance on the alarms and will see the value your team can provide in improving his/her operations.

The outcome of improved relationships between store operations and facilities drives down costs and improves satisfaction, resulting in a better overall retail environment.

Are you a retail facility manager or engineer? What is your experience in working with store operations? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

Paul Hepperla
Director of New Solutions and Product Management, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies

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