March 7

Store Visits for Maximum ROI


Are You Planning All Store Visits for Maximum ROI?

You can! We have a self-study course and an online workshop that both delve into all there is to know about Store Visits for Maximum ROI. Details below.

If you want to know what’s happening in your brick-and-mortar retail stores, you absolutely must get out and visit stores.

Nothing else will do when it comes to taking the pulse of the organization.

We’ve often said, and it’s been proven time and again, that every retail business owner and retail executive would be well served by regularly getting out of the office and the boardroom and into their stores to really understand what’s happening out in the field.

Store visits are an absolute requirement of some retail management positions such as District and Region Managers. For others, store visits are incredibly useful for finding out what’s going on as it relates to their function.

Buyers, Category Managers, Marketing Managers, Loss Prevention Managers and many more can only excel in their positions if they make a point of getting out into the field as often as possible.

After all, the stores are where it’s happening. No one disputes that the business happens on the sales floor…

It goes without saying that store visits are happening in your retail organization. Whether they are happening often enough or being properly executed are things only you can know.

For most successful retail companies, there is a whole lot of visiting going on. Probably more than some retail store managers would like…but that’s life.

When you consider how much time is spent visiting your stores – whether it be the business owner, the DM or RM or any other Operations team member or H.O. personnel – it would be downright irresponsible NOT to do everything possible to ensure a great ROI is realized.

When you know how to take a focused approach after learning about Store Visits for Maximum ROI – how to deal with the inevitable distractions and how to manage the day – you can cover a lot of ground and reap the rewards for the time spent.

Let’s look at some of the things that need to be done as part of a comprehensive, well executed one day store visit by a retail business owner or their designate – the Multi-Unit Manager, DM or RM:

  • Training Needs Analysis
  • Schedule Productivity Check
  • Inventory (Spot) Count
  • Succession Planning Exercise
  • Store Maintenance and Renovation Requirements Analysis
  • P & L Review
  • Merchandise Review
  • Safety Inspection and Facilities Review
  • Loss Prevention Audit
  • Staff Performance Review
  • Management Development Session
  • Mall Management Updates
  • Marketing and Signage Package Review
  • Online Business Review (if applicable)
  • Obstacle Removal
  • Action Planning

That’s not to mention the importance of the huge motivational opportunity presented by a store visit that is properly done.

You may wonder how all these things can be covered in a one-day store visit!!

In fact, many retailers cannot do it.

They do not know how to do it and, therefore, they fail to get the results – the quantifiable positive results – that they want and need.

Well, there is a method. All you need to do is figure out how to do it.

That’s where this program comes in. We explain it all.

The method involves: Planning, Preparation, Organization and Know-How

In this program, we’ll show you how to pull it all together and figure out exactly how to do it.

You Really Can Get 25% More From Every Store Visit using Guidance from ‘Store Visits for Maximum ROI’!

Every single visit to one of your stores must move the business forward in some tangible way. Otherwise, it’s just a social call.

There are different types of Store Visits and different expectations from every one of them. Learn all about them and how to get more from your investment.

When you’ve mastered the skill of a properly executed store visit and when you have seen the results, you’ll never look back. You will want to apply the techniques to almost any oversight challenge you ever come up against.

The Online Workshop:

Methods: Presentations, Discussions, Illustrative Stories & Examples, Case Study (Formal Store Visit), Q & A.

Length of Program: 6 hours divided into 2 days; 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Workshop Fee: $295 per person.

Included: Workshop materials, slide deck and the recording of the session.

Who Should Attend: Ideal for District and Region Managers, General Managers, High Volume Flagship Managers, Operations Management teams & any other Head Office personnel who visit stores on behalf of the company… Buyers, Category Managers, LP Managers, etc.

To check the dates and register, please click here

The Self Study Course: 

Store Visits

Now you, too, can eliminate useless store visits… immediately. District Manager Store Visits are only useful if they move the business forward.

Properly executed District Manager Store Visits will produce positive and quantifiable results every time. Every…single…time! We can prove it!

And we’ll explain how it’s done.

But first, we’ve got some true stories for your reading pleasure.

So far, we have identified 7 types of store visits that aren’t terribly useful and we’re adding more all the time .

They’re all similar to the Mickey Mouse store visit which we’ll get to in just a moment.

Here are the Unproductive Store Visit Types we’ve identified and described so far. None of them meet the criteria for Store Visits for Maximum ROI:

#1 Convenience Visit

#2 No Tolerance Visit

#3 ‘Giddy Up’ Visit

#4 The ‘DM Had a Fit’ Visit

#5 Dreaded Visit

#6 Not Really a Visit

#7 Firefighter Visi

To get started,  we’d like to tell you about Mickey Mouse Store Visits, in general.


We all know we shouldn’t be wasting time on store visits that are not seriousdon’t advance the businessdon’t develop managers, etc.

Except for a momentary and tiny motivational bump, Mickey Mouse store visits are …sad to say…almost useless.

Why, then, are they happening so often? Why are there so many professionals visiting stores, restaurants and service outlets with no plan…with no process to follow?

The Store Visit is a critical business function and must be taken seriously.

With all due respect to Mickey and his friends, he is a cartoon character…a fantasy. He is all about fun and games and making kids laugh and he does a great job of that. But…

Mickey Mouse is not real.

We’re not suggesting that visiting management personnel aren’t serious, or that they are living in a fantasy world. Only that without a predetermined plan and focus that is properly executed at store level, things will go off track quickly.

It’s human nature – people get distracted by the ‘thing’ or supposed ‘crises’ of the moment.

The truth is…

Although rarely referred to as such, the Mickey Mouse  store visit is much more common  than anyone would like to admit.

What makes that so, is lack of process. 

Anyone who visits retail outlets…or has experience in that area, will know that visits often just ‘go with the flow’. Completely.

And they know how easily it happens; not something that’s planned.

But ‘going with the flow’ makes it next to impossible to ensure that issues  are addressed, people  are developed, and targets  are achieved.

Even the most competent RM or DM should be able to rely on some type of road map when it comes to staying on top of the incredible amount of detail involved in the operation of a well-run and profitable  store.

We can certainly agree that some store visits should include lots of motivation and ‘going with the flow’ just to get the feel of what’s going on…to get to know how the staff are doing…to lift people up.

That is part of the job of a Regional or District Manager, after all.

Even still, though, certain things must be planned for and accomplished. Certain parts of the visit can be free flowing – but not all of it.

Managing by the ‘seat of the pants’ is never desirable.

Even seasoned RMs and DMs will forget the odd thing now and again. Even they will not show up ready for game day on every…single…visit.

But that’s what’s needed.

Remember  that we’re talking about a critical business function…not an afterthought about those store teams out there interacting with our customers, selling our products and services and generally making or breaking our brand every. single. day.

(Read about the other 7 unproductive store visit types, below.)

Topics, details, specifics, preparations, time allotments and action plans may vary depending on the particular type of visit  but…

A well-defined Store Visit process should be followed for every… single… visit. 

We know of such a process.

It is included in the MAX ROI Store Visit course.

In this course, we present a focused approach to the process that is productive and rewarding for everyone.

When there is a relentless focus on sales and profitability, customer service, people development, succession planning, vendor reviews, aged inventory, sign packages, product and presentation, safety and loss prevention, and so many other things…important things… then everyone feels a sense of accomplishment and they’re ready to confidently and happily move forward with action plan items.

You may be doing ok, but if you’re not following this method for Store Visits, then you are not profiting as much as you could be. Guaranteed.

This is no joke…no gimmick.

MAX ROI Store Visits are the only way to go. The method is easy to replicate, store after store…time after time.

A full day’s work can produce results far and beyond the day!!

Remember, the Store Visit is a critical business function and should be regarded as such.

Properly executed store visits following this method are going to give you positive results.

They are going to advance the business.

That’s worth some time and effort, isn’t it?

This affordable course is jam-packed with everything needed to get the MAXIMUM Return On Investment on every store visit  and ensure that all store visits produce a positive result …because time is money!

Every single store visit should be expected to yield quantifiable results; to move the business forward to some degree, otherwise it is strictly a social visit.

(Read about the other 7 unproductive store visit types, below.)

Here are just a few of the topics we address in this course:

  • Various types of store visits and expectations for each type
  • How to get all the important stuff covered in one day
  • Scheduling store visits
  • Who is making the schedule, anyway?
  • Preparation for a visit – we provide the only checklist you’ll need
  • How to conduct a highly productive visit
  • Writing an SVR(Store Visit Report) to facilitate development of the Action Plan
  • How to get a higher ROI on your time during each type of store visit
  • What works and what doesn’t; what to do and what not to do during a visit
  • What the visit really means to the Store Manager and staff
  • The resulting – all important action plan – the roadmap for going forward

MAX ROI STORE VISITS will be the only kind you’ll ever have when you start using this… Technique, Method, Approach, Process, Mode, Plan of Action

Whatever you want to call it…it works.

Once you start doing this, you’ll never get mediocre results again.

Drive Productivity to new heights in your retail organization.

In this course, we demonstrate how properly executed Store Visits will produce positive and quantifiable results every time.


That’s not to mention the importance of the huge motivational opportunity presented by a store visit that is properly done.

You may wonder how all these things can be covered in a one-day store visit!!

In fact, many retailers cannot do it.

They do not know how to do it and, therefore, they fail to get the results – the quantifiable positive results – that they want and need.

Well, there is a method. All you need to do is figure out how to do it.

That’s where this course comes in. We explain it all.

The short answer is:

  • Planning
  • Preparation
  • Organization
  • Know-How

When you have mastered the skill of a properly executed store visit and when you have seen the results, you will never look back.

You will want to apply the techniques to almost any oversight challenge you ever come up against.

OK, enough about the course. It’s excellent and proven, so let’s move on.

Here are the rest of those  Unproductive Store Visit Types we’ve identified and described so far:

#1 Convenience Visit

#2 No Tolerance Visit

#3 ‘Giddy Up’ Visit

#4 The ‘DM Had a Fit’ Visit

#5 Dreaded Visit

#6 Not Really a Visit

#7 Firefighter Visit

We are confident that seasoned Regional and District Manager’s will recognize some of these and, for those who are new to multi-unit management, hopefully you’ll get some good takeaways on what NOT to do as you go about your business.

We’d love to get your feedback and we welcome your store visit stories. Send us an email with your story and permission to publish it – anonymously, if you wish.

OK, here we go… read all about those ‘other’ visits.

#1 The Convenience Visit

The Regional Manager lived 5 minutes from the store, and he visited every Friday around 3:30 in the afternoon.

He would ask a couple of questions about sales and chat with the staff about vacation plans and other ‘social’ stuff.

He was a nice guy and the staff looked forward to his visits. Everyone laughed and joked around. Fridays were fun.

Unfortunately, the region didn’t do very well.

Most of the managers were seasoned retail veterans who had been with the company for a while, so the Regional Manager didn’t bother them much.

He said he had learned not to micro-manage experienced people.

Apparently, he didn’t completely understand the advice.

Of course, you shouldn’t micro-manage experienced people who are great at what they do and who are performing well above average.

But you still need to manage.

(And anyone who is not performing well may, indeed, need to be micro-managed for a time. There is no single standard rule about managing and micro-managing.) 

Apart from a temporary motivational bump, social calls won’t move the business forward and could actually hinder progress.

If store visits are just social calls, business will suffer. There’s no doubt about this whatsoever.

Store visits can be a lot of things; executed very differently and with varying degrees of success.

But to be sure, store visits must follow a process and cannot move the business forward unless executed properly.

#2 No Tolerance Visit

What is a ‘no tolerance store visit’? 

What does that even mean?

At DMSRetail, we often talk about fundamentals and for good reasons.

One of them is because there are some things that new technology – no matter how cutting edge, how amazing, how ‘SMART’ – simply cannot do for you. (Well, barring an army of robots assuming retail management positions, which is certainly a possibility, but they aren’t out visiting stores just yet to the best of our knowledge.)

Another is that when fundamentals aren’t in place, it’s easy to lose sight of the goal or objective we are supposed to be striving for.

I think any retailer would agree that it’s a fundamental duty of District and Regional Managers to visit retail stores and restaurants and service outlets and be held accountable for their impact – positive or negative.

That’s fairly standard, right?

What is not standard is a visit from a Head Office official who is, for lack of a better word, inexperienced in the art of dealing with people when no direct line of authority exists. 

During the busy season, one particular (then) prominent retailer used to send all their buyers out to stores to experience it firsthand; to see what happens in stores when customers outnumber the staff by big numbers…when the merchandise the buyers bought was in stores and being sold (hopefully) in high quantities.

It gave them an opportunity to find out what customers thought about the merchandise; see how replenishment was working, etc.

Initially, the store managers were happy to have the extra help.

But it soon turned sour. 

Before long, the buyers were calling and texting each other, mostly complaining about managers and staff in the stores; about customers and sore feet.

They complained about their merchandise not being presented properly; not being sold properly, and so on.

They complained about attitudes and told little stories out of school, so to speak.

Most of the retailers reading this could finish the story because it’s so common.

Let’s just say that store visitors who are not responsible for store operations should never:

  • Interfere
  • Cause discord
  • Disrupt associates on the floor
  • Generally, wreak havoc in the store

Store visits – and there are several kinds of visits each with different objectives – should never be taken lightly or seen as a little ‘escape’ from the office.

Store managers and staff perform very important functions for the company, and they should be acknowledged for that and treated respectfully.

Although it is incredibly useful for non-Sales & Operations Head Office management and staff to visit stores, and we encourage it wholeheartedly…

Remember – it is far better NOT to send them, or allow them to visit, if they cannot be counted on to behave properly while they are there. 

No offense intended but, apparently, proper behavior does not come naturally to all, and the business is at stake.

Retailers can’t lose sight of the fact that the goal is to sell more merchandise to more people, more often.

Anything that takes attention away from that goal needs to change.

#3 ‘Giddy Up’ Visit

It’s a critical business function and what do we get?

Giddy Up? Seriously?

The Store Visit deserves way more attention than it gets.

One Regional Manager we know, constantly used the phrase ‘Giddy Up’.  It was annoying and it made it difficult to take her seriously.

She would show up, fly around the store and the mall with the Store Manager in tow…firing questions at everyone…barking out instructions on what to change and what to leave alone, speaking very fast all the while.

At every change of subject …’Giddy Up’ she’d say. Then, after a couple of hours and no accomplishments, ‘Giddy Up’ she’d say…time to go.

If you were a Store Manager who was flying below the radar, you would love this approach.

But, if you were serious about your position and trying to learn something or just get information from your superior, then you would be very disappointed.

If you needed her to remove some obstacles for you, sorry…you were out of luck.

We know retail is a fast-moving business and you have to be able to think, move and act fast if you want to be a success.

But there are times when calm, rational professionalism is called for and when you’re conducting a store visit, it’s one of those times.

‘Giddy Up’ just wasn’t appropriate.

If the business is to be sustained and improved, store visits should be conducted in a professional manner…not like a drive by!


#4 The ‘DM Had a Fit’ Visit

During our walkthrough, the District Manager didn’t like what he saw so he bent down and reached under the cash desk and proceeded to pull everything out onto the floor…

And he didn’t do it neatly or quietly either. He basically blew a gasket in front of everyone…had a bit of a fit actually, and really made a huge mess on the floor.

Say what you will, but that’s not a very productive way to get your point across. 

The cupboards beneath the cash desk (and hidden from the customers view) were a mess, granted. Inexcusable.

There was dust and old forms and various other items that really had no business being there.

The Store Manager should never have let it get like that and he knew it.

But, having everything pulled out onto the floor…now well within the customers view…didn’t serve any purpose other than to demonstrate the District Manager’s temper, frustration, anger, disappointment or whatever it was that he was feeling.

It should be noted that the mess under that counter didn’t just happen overnight…not even since the last time the DM visited.

It probably hadn’t been attended to for the better part of a year and this was the first time it was being brought to the attention of the Store Manager.

These are simple things that should be taken care of all the time.

From our point of view, a Store Manager shouldn’t need to be reminded to keep the cash desk cupboards tidy and clean.

But, you know, we’re only human and sometimes we can use a reminder.

Sometimes, we can’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes, we just fall down when it comes to the seemingly unimportant things.

OK, point taken, and it won’t happen again. 

Now, let’s look at a much more productive process for a store visit.

Let’s look at a process that would ensure basics were always taken care of so that the more important things like sales and profitability, customer service and people development, succession planning, vendor reviews, aged inventory, sign packages, product and presentation and safety and loss prevention and so many other things…important things… could take center stage and get the lion’s share of our attention.

#5 Dreaded Visit

If Store Managers dread a full-day store visit…somebody is probably doing something wrong. Maybe them…maybe you.

You need to find out.

The Store Manager should be very happy to spend the day with their superior when the goal is to move the business forward.

It’s not a chore…not punishment…it’s a fabulous opportunity!!

The Store Manager should be looking forward to a day when they can discuss business issues, get advice, learn some things, ask about Head Office directives, get help with some obstacles, discuss career paths, showcase their management talents and those of their staff, and so much more.

It’s a management development day, for sure, and our MAX ROI Store Visit process will make that clear.

#6 Not Really a Visit

Leading by example is a core principle for many, but not for all!

Here’s a really old story about a Retail General Manager who liked to follow hot stories of the day…and spent a lot of time watching TV.

So, what does that have to do with leading by example? 

Well, it just so happens that the General Manager we’re talking about was in charge of a chain of electronics stores.

In every store he visited across the country, he found a wall of TV’s on during open hours.

If you remember the O.J. Simpson trial, you will recall that there was non-stop coverage, and it went on for the better part of a year.

For those of you who don’t remember, he was on trial for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

It was the trial of the century, and everyone was talking about it.

Millions were watching it play out on TV.

One of those people was the GM in this story. In every store he visited, he spent most of his time watching the coverage on TV.

Apparently, the stories that went around from store to store were hysterical. Respect for this GM plummeted, and it was difficult to take him seriously.

The Regional and National Managers he travelled with were aghast!

Imagine being the leader of several hundred employees and spending that much time watching TV while you are supposed to be working for the company…while you are supposed to be managing and developing people and motivating sales teams!

Of course, his subordinates still treated him properly and did their jobs but there is no possible way that an example like this wouldn’t have a negative impact somewhere along the line.

It’s one of those things, those intangibles that are difficult to spot and quantify, but you just know it’s not good for business.

He became a legend in the company…for all the wrong reasons.

So, if you’re ever tempted to relax or be a little too casual or comfortable while in stores…remember the O.J. Simpson trial and think better of it.

People need good examples to follow.

#7 Firefighter Visit

You know…the visits where the Regional, District or Area Manager spends more time on the phone with others than they spend with the Store Manager and sales team of the store they’re in.

Firefighter Store Visits are NOT Productive Visits!

Most career retail people have witnessed the ‘Crazed District Manager’ in action; always moving fast, talking to two and, sometimes, three people at a time and not making a lot of headway.

They’re always in a sweat and their briefcase is seriously overloaded…files and papers poking out all over the place.

Their hair is flying, they’re always checking their watch…and they almost trip over small children while rushing through the mall.

To the casual observer, this appears to be one very busy and productive individual. Well, maybe not so much but we’ll leave that for another day.

In any case, this is not the picture of the District, Regional or Area Manager who gets caught up in Firefighter Store Visits.

The ones we’re talking about are not moving too fast and they’re not crazed or confused.

They’re pretty normal people, actually.

They don’t start out with the intention of ignoring the store they’re in, but somehow it always happens.

And it frustrates them just as much as it frustrates the Store Manager.

But there are problems everywhere, every day, every hour – urgent issues and problems and crises – that need the immediate attention of the District Manager…right?

The answer is: 

No… not everywhere, not every day, not every hour.

Chances are really good that, barring some special event or major upheaval in the company, there aren’t all that many things happening that require the urgent and undivided attention of the RM or DM every hour of every day…everywhere.

Some, of course, but not that many.

There are situations that could be described as emergencies but many more that could be described as imagined emergencies and, worse, simply distractions.

The distinction depends on a few things.

One of those things is the management style of the District or Regional Manager and the expectations that have been set.

Some of those trying to get their attention could probably handle whatever it is on their own provided the RM or DM has given them the know-how and the authority to do so.

At DMSRetail, we’re strong advocates of true empowerment…which should not be confused with the old “empowerment for all” claim.

You might remember a time, just a few years ago, when every employee had to feel empowered. Courses were taught and every employee was strongly encouraged to be empowered.

If your employees weren’t empowered…well…you were just not running your company properly.

The only problem was that it was fake…disingenuous…artificial if you get my drift!

Every time a so-called empowered employee made a mistake, the wrath of some manager came down on them and taught them – very clearly – that they were not truly empowered.

Anyway, the point is that the position of Store Manager is an important one.

It is a position that requires a truly empowered employee to make decisions, fix things that go wrong, drive the business with everything he’s got and, generally, look to their superior for support, some guidance, some professional development and a little help in removing obstacles to success.

Truly empowered employees do not call the boss every five minutes because there is no need to do so. When this employee calls, it’s understood that there’s a good reason for it.

If a Store Manager is new, they may need more guidance. Then again, they might be able to get that guidance from colleagues or, perhaps, a book.

You never know…maybe try it out.

Their immediate superior should not necessarily be the very first person to contact whenever something comes up. If they have taught their subordinates to contact them for every little thing, then they are always going to conduct Firefighter Store Visits.

RMs and DMs have to ensure all of their Store Managers understand what a crisis is so they can identify one when it occurs… and act accordingly.

Regional, District and Area Managers and anyone else who is responsible for managing a group of outlets must be self disciplined and avoid distractions.

Firefighter Store Visits will be a thing of the past when you follow the MAX ROI Store Visit process.

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