MSOs and manufacturers with field teams have a common challenge: staying on top of their field reps. Vendors with employees in the field need tight management at times. To keep EVERY STORE PERFECT, you've got to get and receive communications to understand:
- where reps are located or what their daily travel plans look like
- what the in-store situation is
- how long reps are on site
- who is available for an open job
Mobile devices and integrated software solutions like ESP give you visibility when you need it. And you don't necessarily have to speak with a rep to get the information you need. But there are times when clear communication is necessary.
Take a look at these critical reasons you should be connected to reps in real time:
- Managing cut-ins and other wide ranging projects. When you have a cut-in project across multiple locations, new releases need to be set on the same day. So you've got to communicate quickly to everyone responsible. You need to confirm everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be there. And you should be able to report to those stores immediately when cut-ins at each location are complete.
- Everybody on the same page. If you're tasked with conducting full category resets in regional or national retailers, handling thousands of SKUs across thousands of linear feet of shelves, your team has to be synchronized. You want them to be able to execute full-chain resets faster than store personnel. So you need to have a retail execution plan and tools in place to make that happen.
- Keeping stores compliant. Validating store compliance is critical to keeping retailers happy. If you need to validate store compliance with corporate branding, planograms, signage, and product placement, or you need to collect inventory data and out-of-stock status, you want to have the data available before the day is done. You can't afford to wait days or weeks to get things right.
- Managing cross-function teams. Store remodels or new store sets may require different teams, such as assemblers, fixture installers, and merchandisers. So you want the coordination power to schedule projects and confirm status with flexibility, accuracy, and real-time capabilities. You need to communicate exact details and get updates on progress, issues, etc. in order to keep all the moving parts moving.
- Making sure they're equipped. You want to make sure all materials, fixtures, and stands are available, accessible to your teams, and delivered to the right locations at the right time. Delays in product sets or resets cost your retailers money...so they cost you money as well.
- Having a back-up plan. Field merchandisers are like any other employee, they'll have occasional emergencies or call-outs. So you need to be able to fill a gap quickly. You need to log and share the opportunity so other reps can step in. Once the opportunity is claimed, you want to be able to communicate details about the project, tasks, and store contacts to the substitute rep ASAP.
- Making sure store relationships are strong. Even though many reps I encounter manage their own workloads, keeping on top of the client relationship is your responsibility as a field manager. So you need to know what reps are seeing in the field and hearing in their stores. Having them share images and survey results in real time keeps you on top of your client relationship game.
- Training before they even step foot in the store. Often overlooked is the role training has on the success of your merchandising organization. You want to be able to get new reps up to speed quickly, and update your team if new training is required. You don't want to send someone in who isn't familiar with compliance, right? So you've got to have the tools and processes to train reps remotely.
Of course, the level of communication you'll need will vary by rep. Some are very self-reliant...you don't need to constantly be connected; others will need a bit more "hand holding". But as I mentioned, there are times when you'll need to manage the field team with good communication. That's when a good plan..and a stellar RETAIL EXECUTION SOFTWARE solution...will serve you well.