The Worst of Times and the Best of Times

We have recently been involved with the take over and operation of a ten store chain in the Midwest.  As usual, when we are involved in what we call a “distress” project, it is a very anxious time for the store employees.  Life suddenly becomes filled with uncertainties and anxieties.  Questions ranging from employment to new paperwork training alter and shift the comfort zones that store managers and staff have become used to

It is very understandable.  Change brings uncertainty and uncertainty leads to anxiety.  Typically, CMSI’s involvement escalates a situation that was anxious in the first place.  The only reason we are asked to operate stores in a distressed situation is because the current operation is in financial or ownership difficulty.  Employees know more about the situation than owners and management think they do.  Managers see the smaller grocery orders, forgo repairs when capital budgets are cut, hear the gossip from the vendors when the receive deliveries.  They know.

Admittedly, we add to the level of stress.  We have a comprehensive back office and store reporting system that we implement at each site to provide accurate and timely operations data.  We have a complete set of procedures and guidelines that ensure the site operates at its optimum level.  All of this must be understood and learned by folks who are used to doing it either their way or the “old” way.  Fortunately, we also have a group of very skilled and compassionate field staff who are there to help teach, mentor, and support our new colleagues.

It usually takes us about ten days to two weeks to complete our training programs through a combination of hands on training sessions at our local training center and on site mentoring in the store.  Several more days of training support and development take place to ensure that all systems are functioning smoothly.

A shout out to the CMSI transition team is in order here.  They do a terrific job of taking a negative situation and turning it into a positive one.  Our folks spend weeks away from home making sure that our client’s stores are providing accurate information, the staff is knowledgeable about what they are doing and confident in their performance, and that we are maximizing the revenues and asset values at the sites.  Well done and thank you!  You know who you are.

Interestingly, at the end of the training period and knowing that CMSI is only going to be involved for a few weeks until the stores move on to new owners, the same store managers who were concerned about their futures tell us that they are thankful for our involvement and that we are the best thing that has happened in their stores for quite a while.  They feel that someone is, once again, actively involved with their business and helping them to be the best that they can be.

Frankly, that is one of the great satisfactions in what we do.