Multi-stores such as corporate chains, franchises, buying groups and networks of stores require particular management that does not necessarily apply to single store operations. The operational aspects of these businesses may not be so different when observed at an individual level, but as a whole, their scale and variability often call for a unique management approaches.
How can you efficiently mange a multi-store structure? Multi-store management requires handling the managerial demands of several operations, each of which is typically very unique in one way or another. Due to this, keeping the operations in all these stores running smoothly can be especially demanding.
It can be a little hard to realize the unique business benefits that proper multi-store management should offer if you fail to use the right approach. You might think you have everything figured out, and most managers in similar positions do. However, there are a number of ways you should manage sales, promotions, inventory, time and other things differently in a multi-store environment in order to achieve greater efficiency, reduced costs, and improved profitability. Here are our 10 tips to ensure your multi-store management is top notch.
1. Improved Inventory Management
Having to run several stores can significantly increase your inventory management responsibilities. You not only have to ensure there is enough inventory within the entire business operation, but that each store has adequate inventory levels as well. However, managing several stores also means having unique inventory management opportunities. For instance, you can always find one store to supply stock to another store in case inventory levels run low.
But for this to work, there needs to be a system that allows for quick communication between these store locations so that the inventory transfers are effected efficiently. As a matter of fact, with the right POS system in place for your multi-store operation, you can get timely MOQ (minimum order quantity) suggestions based on past sales or recommendations from the management so that you can manage your inventory in a way that helps you avoid stock-outs in the first place.
Such advanced systems can also help you come up with special serial numbers that let you keep track of every item that goes through your store. This precise control is obviously more important in a multi-store management scenario since things are more likely to get chaotic given issues such as inter-branch inventory transfers.
2. Better Price Lists
Just because your stores sell the same products, it does not mean you have to offer the same prices as well. In fact, your pricing should be guided by the specific market demands and the unique business conditions each store has to deal with. For instance, some stores might operate in places where customers would have no issue paying a higher price for a commodity that sells a lot cheaper in another market.
Then again, the entire operation might have a policy of standard pricing. Whatever the case, having a system in place that allows you to control all the prices centrally, and also adjust them for each individual store is critical. Having to do manual follow-ups can be daunting and error-prone.
3. Effective Reporting
Without proper reporting, it is impossible to know how you are doing as a business. Besides, reporting is a statutory requirement. But that does not make it any less demanding, especially when you have several stores to think about and have to come up with both individual and consolidated reports for the entire business. However, for an especially easy multi-store management experience, you should have a system in place that not only gathers reports from various individual stores, but also consolidates these reports into a central place for easier access, analysis, and better decision-making.
4. Tracking Sales
An important part of any management operation is the ability to keep track of all sales. In a multi-store management scenario, this can prove to be a little more challenging since each store’s sales have to be tracked independently and also concurrently with the other stores forming the chain. This can be especially complicated if each store uses a different POS system to track their sales.
Other factors that can complicate tracking sales include issues like promotional sales, trade show sales, and even online sales. Unifying these sales records can be challenging. That is why proper multi-store management requires the use of a system that helps coordinate all the sales in the entire operation regardless of where they take place.
5. Evaluating Promotions
Promotions can be simple when operating a single store. But with multiple stores to think of, this task might be a little more daunting. For one thing, the stores may be located in various kinds of markets, and the promotional technique that would work wonders at one store might fail completely at another. In any case, even if the same promotion concept would work, it might need to be fine-tuned to suit the needs of each of the markets a particular store serves.
For instance, while discounts might work in multiple stores, large discounts might be necessary for some stores to get the right attention from the buyers. The best way to handle diverse promotion demands is to have a system in place that helps you roll out various kinds of promotions and track their success at various store locations.
So, whether its gift cards, memberships, store credits and so forth, this system should give you an easier time managing, monitoring, and evaluating various promotional drives happening within the entire system.
6. Proper Time Management
Managing time is a challenge for many store managers. So, you can imagine how serious this management aspect is for multi-store managers. Keeping tabs on all the operations within the franchise or group of branches can prove almost impossible unless you put in place the right measures. For instance, in order to avoid spending so much time on inventory management, you can come up with a better inventory management system that ensures your inventory is better organized for faster access and stocking, which would save considerable amounts of time. You can also delegate certain responsibilities to other staff members with the help of an advanced system that grants certain rights to people in certain positions, within reason.
7. Standardization of Operation Procedures
When running several stores, it is important to have standard procedures in place that dictate how employees will work, the kinds of payments the stores will accept and so forth. This will make it easier to keep track of what is happening at each store and whether it is as per the business’ policies. Additionally, this standardization makes it easier to transfer employees and coordinate common activities such as promotions. This coordination should even extend to things like inventory management and stocking procedures so that employees don’t get confused when they move from one store to another.
8. Establishing a Proper Communication System
The dissemination of information to all the stores in the network needs to be effective and easy. For instance, when a certain product has to be pulled off the shelves with immediate effect, that information should available to all stores at the same time to coordinate such activities. Having a proper communication system in place will also ensure that all stores are in touch with the team that manages the entire system so that issues within individual stores are handled more efficiently. Obviously, visits to the network would still be necessary from time to time, but having open and reliable communication systems for all the stores can help keep the operation running more smoothly.
9. Proper Access Management
Rather than try to manage each store, a multi-store manager can handle only the things that relate to the entire operation and are beyond the capabilities or the knowledge of specific store managers. This can be easier when the multi-store operation has in place a master account which is handled from the headquarters and sub-master accounts handled by specific store managers. By having such a system in place, a lot of time an effort can be saved.
10. Effective Management of Costs
At the end of the day, how costs are managed will affect how much the multi-store operation will make in profits. Even with a lot of clients, cost inefficiencies can still make profitability a challenge. But with the right system in place, you can keep track of all the expenses in your business and evaluate their contribution to the value chain. Such a system can also help identify redundancies that might be adding to the costs without causing any tangible profitability benefits.
Alice POS is a system that was born from the need to serve multi-store networks such as corporate chains, franchises and buying groups. It is our core business. Not only do we understand the technological needs of networks, but we have actual experience managing a network of stores. Feel free to get in touch with us to book a free demo of our solution to see how Alice POS can help with your multi-store management.
What are some of the features to consider when purchasing a multi-store POS system? When purchasing a multi-store POS system for a network of stores, managers should consider a system that offers an excellent cloud-based solution that is supported, maintained and updated. The solution should also be network-centric and reply to the key features mentioned above. Multi-store is Alice POS’s core business.
What should be the main focus of proper multi-store management? Broadly speaking, your multi-store management focus should be improving sales and operations, or more importantly, profit margins and saving time. There are several ways to achieve this, for instance, by improving efficiency in order to cut costs, or by offering different prices at various stores based on the local market. Alice POS can provide actionable insights to do so.