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Seven Actions Retail Facilities Teams Can Take to Improve Store Operations

I recently wrote about the relationship between store operations and facilities management, sharing tips for working together to enhance facility processes and improve operations. I’ve joked before that sometimes it may seem like the facilities teams and store operations teams in retail are from different planets. But, there are ways for these groups to work well together, and when they do, everyone can benefit. It starts with understanding what their responsibilities are, recognizing the impact facilities work has on store operations and identifying opportunities to improve the customer experience through facility enhancements.

Supermarket Reach In AisleWhat can facility managers do to improve their partnership with store operations? Below are seven actions facilities teams can take which can help both teams succeed.

  1. Ask questions they will understand. Do not use technical terms. Rather, start with asking the operations team simple questions to determine what the problem may be. For example, you may ask, “Is it on?” “Is it plugged in?” “Can you feel cold air?” “Is it stocked correctly, or could something be blocking the fans?” or “Is the drain plugged?”
  2. Use “do” statements and checklists. Rather than telling the operations team that they have an alarm, tell them what they should do in that situation. Provide them with at least three “do” statements; give them instructions for how to evaluate the problem. Having a checklist to follow when an alarm sounds can help reduce false positives and unnecessary truck rolls.
  3. Incorporate energy and maintenance results in pro formas for remodels and new construction. You should look at whether there is an increase or decrease in energy and/or maintenance on what they’re going to remodel. Impacts on energy and maintenance should be factored in when evaluating operations projects.
  4. Work with management to use maintenance visits as an efficiency standard. When we look at alarms, they need to be triaged correctly – meaning we need to first verify that it is a real alarm, then classify its priority and assign it to the appropriate person to deal with the alarm.
  5. Evaluate tools for instant communication. Consider SMS and text messaging to send quick alerts out to retail operations. Deliver timely information they need using the appropriate channels.
  6. Publish reports – and make them competitive. Retail store managers are highly competitive. If you publish a report that includes a ranking of the stores in your fleet, store managers will notice when they are at the top or the bottom of that list. It will encourage them to engage with you to see how they can be ranked higher. This gives you the opportunity to discuss or explain opportunities for facility optimization to them.
  7. Keep talking. This one is very important. Continue to have conversations with your store operations teams. Engage consistently with them to find out what they’re doing and how you can help.

Are you a retail facility manager or engineer? What do you think about this list? Please share your experience in working with store operations by leaving a comment below. I’d appreciate your insight.

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

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