Hardware Retailing

JAN 2019

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | January 2019 52 Getting the Plan to Work While it can be easy to theorize about time management plans, the real work comes in putting that plan into practice. For most people, adopting a strategy requires a change in mindset and means embarking on a long learning process. Goldsby and Clouse both identify ways busy retailers can improve how they manage time. • Analyze Your Behavior The first step to having better time management may be taking self-inventory of how you are spending your time each day. Are there recurring stress points? What is most frustrating? Are there areas where you'd like to spend more time, but feel you can't? "A good place to start is to ask what is the common denominator in all the things that stress you?" says Goldsby. "Many people realize that their behavior has a lot to do with the reason they are stressed." As you analyze the way you spend your time, you may discover habits you need to break. For example, if you're in the habit of micromanaging employees, it may be time to step back and let a trusted manager handle those tasks. Have patience with yourself as you break those habits. "When you start a time management plan, it's not going to be easy, you need to be patient with yourself because it may be a while before you start to feel like you're making a difference in how you get things done," says Goldsby. "There will eventually be a tipping point where you feel you are making a difference." • Minimize Distractions While some people may be able to multitask effectively, others are simply splitting their attention so that they are unable to focus on one task at a time, thus getting less done. In a retail setting, the result may be giving less attention to customers. Distracted employees end up providing sub-par customer service to employees. Putting greater focus on a task means you will likely get it done more quickly and do a better job. One way to eliminate distractions is to designate certain times of the day for certain tasks. Avoid the temptation to answer every email as it comes in, or respond to every text message immediately. It may be OK to ignore electronic devices for a short time during the day. • Make Priorities One of the difficult parts of creating a time management plan is learning how to prioritize tasks. One plan, the ABC method, suggest separating tasks by (A) urgent tasks that need to be done now, (B) tasks that need to be done in the next week or month, but not right away and (C) tasks that are not critical. "A lot of people work on the C tasks first. They're not critical issues, but they may be easier to do," says Goldsby. "However, at the end of the day, you may not feel as if you've gotten anywhere. It's those A projects that make you feel as if you're accomplishing something." Clouse does that by making his list at the beginning of the week of what needs to get done. He also does it when he makes his weekly visits to each of his locations. During a store visit, he makes a list of every task that needs attention. While he may pass that list off to a manager to finish, he's identified what needs to be done first so his staff knows where to focus their time. • Prepare to Break Traditions More than likely, when you adopt a plan to manage your time, you are going to change the way you do your work. "A lot of the challenges I see retailers dealing with are family generational issues," says Goldsby. "The way a parent ran the operation is different than the way the son or daughter wants to run it." For example, the parents may have spent more of their time on the floor interacting with customers. As the next generation starts to think about how to best use their time, they may realize it's more beneficial to spend time in the back office while a manager interacts more with customers. This may take some adjustment for an older generation of customer who always spoke to the owner. Managing his time effectively at work allows Byron Clouse to spend more time serving the community and enjoying his family.

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