What to do when a site isn't performing well

Sites (restaurants, stores, etc.) have always been under pressure to perform well and meet targets. This pressure has only increased in recent times with the changing landscape of the business world.

Sites (restaurants, stores, etc.) have always been under pressure to perform well and meet targets. This pressure has only increased in recent times with the changing landscape of the business world. Sites that are missing targets and not meeting expectations can be a drain on the company and damage employee morale. It’s crucial to recognise when a location is underperforming and act as fast as possible (before it's too late!) So today, we’re delving into the reasons why a site might be missing its targets and how to overcome the issues. 

Why is the site performing badly?

Remember the saying about the devil you know? Well you can’t exactly tackle problems when you don't know what the problems are. You should start off by reviewing the past few months of a location's sales and inventory data. Take note of any trends you see. Are sales steadily declining? Is that normal for this time of year? How much stock do you have and which products aren’t selling great? Then compare this data to your other locations. Is there a big difference? If there is, you can deduce that it is not just a ‘time of year’ situation. By comparing to other locations, you might be able to see where the greatest issues are lying. 

But you shouldn’t just be looking at the sales and inventory data, you should also be taking a look at employee engagement surveys and training scores. Employee engagement can take a real toll on the business and it’s often overlooked as a potential issue. If you have existing surveys from your locations, make sure you’re analysing those and looking out for whether employee engagement and morale is low and whether that may be a by-product of the underperformance, or whether it's the root cause of the site's poor performance. Similar to engagement, training scores can indicate some issues within the location. If the scores are particularly poor or only average in comparison to other locations, that can be a signal that a lack of proper training is the main issue. 

Addressing the issue

After establishing the underlying causes of the site's performance, you can move on to addressing the issues at hand. Of course, depending on the issues identified, different solutions would need to be implemented, but here are a few general tips to get your business back on track!

Offer support

You probably have some great support strategies in place to service your managers, but in times of crisis it isn’t always easy to back the leaders in charge of the site’s performance. It’s common to assume it’s all their fault, but it's crucial that you don’t make that assumption. You have to remember that you’re all in this together and that working together can produce the best results. Without the proper support, it is easy for locations to go under and offering more support can be just the ticket to get them back on the way to stellar performance. 

Turn up the heat on marketing

Oftentimes, sites don’t do as well because your customers don’t know you’re there! Whether or not this is true in your case, turning up the heat on marketing can really help you expand awareness among your audience and bring customers in through the door. Don’t be afraid to go local on this one! It’s easy to forget about the local area marketing with the rise of globalisation, but if you’re wanting customers to come in through the door (and make some purchases), local might be the way to go. Consider the good old out of home advertisements, sponsoring the local sports team or local news media exposure. There are lots of options out there to gain more exposure in the local scope, so think big!

Conduct regular audits

Whether or not you were already conducting audits, it’s time to focus on doing them on a regular basis now. Conducting audits regularly is one of the best ways to get on top of problems before they take you down. Area managers need to be physically going out to the sites and reviewing them - not just checking in via email! With a little help from an easy-to-use auditing system and customised reporting, regular audits won’t be a hassle for you or your area managers and will help you identify issues as soon as they arise.

Cut out the underperforming inventory

Have you got some products that are selling poorly? It might be time to cut them out of your offering. Poorly selling products can be a huge drain on time and resources so you need to know when it's time to give up on them. It’s not always easy to give up on something, particularly if it's a product you love, but sometimes there's no room for pride and you need to cut down the offering and focus on your star products

Hire, fire and retrain

The team is the local face of your brand. They’re the ones interacting with your customers and they can make or break the business. If your team isn’t performing well, there are a number of reasons why that may be the case. Perhaps there are interpersonal issues, they haven't been trained correctly, aren’t being managed well or maybe they just aren’t passionate about their job. That's when you need to consider hiring, firing and retraining. Maybe you should bring in excited and passionate team members, let a team member that has been consistently underperforming go or retrain your staff and upskill them (which is easy with the right LMS). You’ll have to decide (in conjunction with the location’s manager) which is the right course of action for this particular site. 

When a site starts to miss targets and perform poorly, it can start to worry you immediately. But by taking swift action and addressing the issues at hand, you can save an underperforming location. It’s all about understanding what the problem is and why it has occurred. Once you know that, you are able to address the problems (hopefully) before they take too much of a toll on your business and brand. 

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