How to co-build store transformation with the field

Mon 15 Jun 2020

The transformation of an operator’s stores involves major challenges in terms of image modernization, commercial development and customer loyalty.
The management of an operator’s physical distribution network is generally based on different levels of the organization, at the national and regional levels up to local stores. As a result, deploying a transformation program requires the strong involvement of each of them, and in particular the teams on the ground.

Prioritization of the subject at all levels, a prerequisite for store transformation

The store context: over-solicitation of advisors

The store environment is unique. Indeed, there are many projects carried out in-store by a telecom operator, both on tools and operating modes. By adding to the day-to-day tasks of selling, they risk leading to over-solicitation of in-store advisors.

Involve all levels of the sales organization

Managerial involvement at all levels is therefore crucial for getting teams involved in a transformation program, especially when these changes concern practices that are sometimes well-established. Awareness must therefore be raised at all levels:

  • national management
  • regional Management
  • sales management (sectors)
  • store manager
  • in-store advisor

To do this, prioritization of the subject at the national level is essential in order to legitimize such an approach and obtain the involvement of the teams.

How can one support store transformation?

A solid organization around the project is necessary to be able to co-construct with the field:

  • a clear vision at the national level,
  • and resources and experts known to local teams to answer their questions, report their needs and share their practices.

The project team can thus co-construct the program with regional contacts who will be the sponsors and specifiers for their teams on the ground. Effective governance and regular monitoring between the project team and regional sponsors make it possible to take decisions and communicate easily about the program.

The national and regional teams are therefore coordinating to organize workshops during which the field teams will be trained on the store transformation program.

Prior to the training day, it is recommended that participants be made aware of the subject by the regional sponsors. It is useful for them to reflect on their own constraints and their situation in the store. This reflection can take the form of a self-diagnosis guided by an evaluation grid proposed by the project team).

What format for working with the field?

An effective format for these trainings is that of regional workshops led by the regional team and the national project team. These workshops will bring together store managers and their deputies for a full day.

It is difficult to mobilize managerial pairs over a format of several days. However, rolling out the program is a long-term process. This is why this single day must be the starting point, the impetus that triggers ownership of the program by the teams. Under no circumstances should it be a compressed roadmap of all the practices to be implemented and accomplished from the next day.

Such a workshop day allows the manager to initiate the first in-store actions that will make it possible to build the new organization with the sales team.

The challenge is to make participants actors in their own training rather than recipients of a masterclass. Indeed, who knows the context on the ground better than the very people who work there? In addition, to ensure that the teams are mobilized over a full day, it is necessary to ensure that pragmatic content is offered that matches their concerns.

It is therefore important for participants to be able to discuss their reality in the store. Thus, their constraints are understood by the project team and serve to build the training day.

Three complementary sequences for a workshop day with the field

A morning to pass on key messages and initiate exchanges

First of all, we need to address the issue of the program. The aim is to convey key messages without giving lessons.

  • Forming sub-groups of participants (from five to seven store managers/deputies) facilitates exchanges.
  • A facilitator is present for each sub-group to facilitate discussions, share each person’s experience, and refocus on the key points. Its main role is to invite participants to talk about the practices and processes that work in their daily lives to drive them to solutions.

It is the participants who build their method of implementing the program, after

  • having appropriated the “essentials”,
  • having integrated best practices shared between peers.

Half a day for the practical case study

The second part of the day is then devoted to studying a concrete problem in the store, always in sub-groups. The approach leads the participants to sketch the issue on a paper board. Then, based on what was seen in the morning, the participants imagine a new organization to solve the problem.

A roadmap to conclude the day

Finally, the store managers and deputies will work together on their action plan for the following days.

For greater commitment, their managers, the sales directors, also support them in drawing up this roadmap.

The aim of this stage is not to make long-term commitments. On the contrary, it is a question of noting concrete actions that can be implemented from the next day and that will make it possible to address the obstacles one by one.

Involvement and sharing: the keys to successful field deployment

As we have seen previously, providing simple training is not enough to motivate the field teams effectively. Indeed, the involvement of teams at all levels and sharing in a co-construction approach are key. We can thus summarize these essentials into 5 key success factors:

  • Involving management
  • Showing empathy and listening to problems on the ground
  • Involving the field, getting them to talk about their experience
  • Sharing best practices between peers to facilitate projection into execution
  • Establishing a pragmatic and realistic action plan from the workshop to engage managers and their managers

The success of the rollout does not guarantee the success of the store transformation program over time. A program must be coordinated and managed over time. This is why, beyond the deployment workshops, maintaining links and monitoring at different levels is essential. Exchanges must therefore take place between local and regional, regional and national, local and national.

Joséphine Borel

Retail Consultant