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Life on the Front Line

In my last post I wrote about the stress and anxiety that store staff go through when CMSI is brought in to take over the management and operation of their stores.  At CMSI, we bend over backwards to make sure that the staff at our contract management sites have the most comprehensive support that can we can provide.

Although we don’t say it enough, it is the store crew that makes or breaks a retail business.  Everything from customer service to cash control depends upon the person who stands behind the counter.  Whether it is the store manager or the grave yard shift part timer, these individuals hold the keys to their, and our, success.  Without a knowledgeable and trained staff we have nothing to offer to our customers nor to our clients.

I’ve written before about the importance of training and its impact on retail results.  The better a team member understands his or her job and responsibilities the more confidence they will have in their job and the more committed they are to providing the customer service and performance that we hope and expect from them.

To that end, the CMSI transition teams spend dozens of hours in the market providing hands on training and mentoring to store managers and assistant managers.  A clear handbook of policies and procedures guide team members through the complexities of their job and our system.  With that clarity confidence, again, is developed liberating the employee to make decisions knowing that they have the latitude to create the positive experiences for our customers and other team members.

Unfortunately, our contract management operations most often are employed at companies that are in financial distress.  The store employees are dispirited, nervous, and unsure as to what they can do and what they should do.  Our objective is to restore their confidence in themselves and their store.  We do lose employees who want to try their luck elsewhere or who don’t make it though out training and evaluation programs.  However, at the end of our time in the stores we are able to present the new owner with staff that understand the tools they can use to maximize their store’s potential, create a coherent retail team, and develop and promote their fellow employees to be the best that they can be.

At CMSI’s heart, we are retailers.  Our bloodline is one of hands on retailing going back over a hundred years.  Our genesis was in the supermarket business evolving into what we call small format retailing.  We understand that the business battles are waged daily and that the front line is the sales counter.  Our mission is to equip and train our team so that they have the weapons to be the best.

Whoa! That got a little militaristic.  Sorry about that.  Warfare may be a metaphor for business but it is something that we try to approach with compassion and passion.  At the end of the day, we are only as good as our folks who interact with the customers.  That is where the battle is won.