I Got My Report Card at Work Today

When thinking back to our school years, there was never a day quite as important than the day when report cards were distributed.  A good student was happy, the lazy one started getting creative and prepared their explanation for their parents.   It was the parent who had to sign the card. It was ultimately their responsibility to either praise the child or coach them to do better in the next semester, so that by year end, they could pass to the next grade.  This quarterly or six week routine trained the student to be responsible on their own. It wasn’t until college that we were reported our grades without parental involvement and hopefully we were incented to improve when seeing the result without their involvement.  We were conditioned by the academic culture.   These same principles  are brought to the corporate environment by annual or quarterly reviews.  However, when performance correlates to revenue, one needs to ask, “Is that often enough?”.

 

BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE

If you are a Supervisor, you can probably look at your desk and see a stack or at least one report that shows the result of a person or department on some key performance indicator.  Have you looked at it today?  If there is a deficiency causing revenue loss, how much money will your company lose if you wait until the weekend or next week to review it?  C-stores have a lot of transactions made each and every day.  Each presents the opportunity to gain more revenue than the customer intended to spend, but they also  present the possibility of error, where that customer will not pay fully for what they purchased due to sticker errors, entry errors at the register, and even inventory and/or money being stolen just because it could.  A company with an average of only 300 transactions a day can lose some serious money between now and next week.  By the time  you have  a moment to review and study the report, people tend to forget why what happened did happen, and it all gets get sloughed off as part of the business.  This is because no one has time to monitor each and every statistic where money can leak.  Business Intelligence Tools have become an important part of the business in this industry for that reason.  They do monitor everything and good ones will notify you when there is a revenue leak.  A better one will inform the Store Manager and their Supervisor so that action can immediately be taken to prevent the revenue loss when it begins, where it begins.  This can be done through a daily scorecard or, corporate report card if you will.  Sending the Store Manager a daily notification of where they are in KPI standing, will allow them to correct errors, coach their team or, put more secure measures in place to stop the problems and drive the store to better performance before month end totals get tallied.

 

EMPLOYEE PERSPECTIVE

Benefits of the Scorecard reach beyond  financial gain for the company.  Performance reviews will be better, so increase in pay is possible for the employee because, they are reaching their goals and/or being more proactive when managing their stores.  They also gain a clear understanding of expectations which Dr. Jan West, PHD, of the National Business Research Group touts as being one of the biggest flaws of employers. This is also a much better medium for them to find out they are not performing well than a surprise call by your manager who is asking a lot of questions for which they are not prepared to answer.  BandyWorks Quik Data Business Intelligence software can even be configured to require a response to the Supervisor so they can get their answers,, where accountability is intact.  However, it  also allows the Store Manager to work through and think about the root causes of their issues and how to overcome them before responding.

THE WIN/WIN OF WELL ROUNDED SUCCESS

When problem identification and correction becomes part of daily process it all becomes conditioned and routine, which leads to better, well rounded success.  So take Dr. West’s management practice advice and, provide the feedback your employees want and need to do their very best, and give them their daily report cards.  You may very soon find yourself running out of gold star stickers.

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5 Things Comparing Sales Over Various Time Intervals Will Tell A C-Store

All convenience stores share and print spreadsheets with the latest and greatest performance statistics to let managers know where to focus and what is going well in their company.  However, a single snapshot in time may not really relay what is going on as much as you think it might.  Yes, current spreadsheets will tell you if what was sold in a given time frame was enough, as well as who your best performers are for that time period. But, comparing sales over various time intervals can tell you a lot more.  This will answer questions such as:

  1. Are sales declining or increasing?
  2. Are these results typical for this time of year or is this a variance from the norm?
  3. Who are consistently my best performers?
  4. Which products consistently sell well even when overall sales are in decline?
  5. Are our plans for growth working?

In a nutshell, time comparison provides you with the insight of trend.  Trends better relay whether action is to be taken, and often times what action is to be taken, whether they occurred in the past or are current.  Having a tool that provides visual insight to your specific industry and in a format everyone in your company can understand, only quickens the identification of what are typical trends and what are ones that need correcting.  So, a tool that identifies trends instantly will resolve problems much sooner than paper reports and  manual tracking.  Compare BI.com  wrote the following:

“How Visual Insight Business Intelligence Reporting Works

Visual Insight translates the data from the business intelligence reporting into visualizations which makes it easier to read and understand. Because being able to read and understand your data is so important.  This has worked well for a multitude of different companies and has saved a lot of time consuming work by IT departments. This not only benefits your employees but your company as a whole.”  It takes the element of the time comparison to automate and provide the visualization of the trend.  It takes a tool to analyze all  that is required to identify trends.”

You know that looking at the same convenience store data in different time frames will give you different information.   Using Over/Short data in a daily view will make you  aware of problems as they arise, so they can be addressed. But, monthly views of this same information may point out a trend, which may be stemming from a training issue, which is more serious.

C-Store sales viewed in the monthly view, may give you an idea if you are to hit your goal, but a yearly view will give you a more definitive way to define which way sales are trending, and if trending downward, where larger projects may be needed to turn things around.  Until you see the overall effect, you may be unsure what the monthly trends mean to your business.  Things go up and down each day in this industry.  The overall view gives you the result of the trend.  This view can also measure improvements, marketing program success and management performance.

Annual views will provide you with an even higher level of understanding.   When you grab a snapshot of your overall sales over a period of years, and compare it to the monthly sales, over that same period it will let you see when things  rose or fell.  This will lead  you to a better understanding of your trends and, when you need to plan for defensive strategy during the year, to make sure next year’s overall results will show improvement

Depending on what you want to investigate, having the option to look at information in different time frames will give you the different perspectives you need to make sound decisions. Where one will provide you with the symptom, the other may provide you with the answer because it identifies the core problem.  However, you wouldn’t know what to look for until you saw the symptom.

Here are some examples of these two views showing this information from BandyWorks’ Quik Data product.

Annual Comparison3 Year ComparisonMonthly Sales Over that Period of Time3 year trend

When observed only on a daily basis, data can look sporadic.  There are good days and bad days whether you are trending in the right direction or declining.  Only over time can you determine which way things are truly heading.  The coordination of using these different views in synchronization is how you get results with the Business Intelligence tool.  Having easy access to all different views at once makes it possible.   

While analyzing all of the data as it relates categories to locations and managers, over time in a manual method is not feasible on a daily basis, having a tool to do that for you will make your company more responsive, help it zero in on the right activities and help it find its way to better performance.

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