Retail Management Strategy - The Fallacy of Doing More With Less

Hands kneading dough

Access My FREE 5-Part Retail Sales Training Email Course!

I recently thought about my mom's baking as I heard more predictions of retailers needing to do "more with less." In fact, a Google search resulted in over six million results. More with less.

My mom told stories of growing up with her seven brothers and sisters baking two or three loaves of bread, two or three pies, rolls, and cakes for Sunday dinner. Even as a single mom, she often made bread or rolls for us on weekends. I'd watch her as I got older; she never used a recipe. "Why not?"I asked.

"Don't need to. It's basic science what has to go in and what proportions." She was, after all, a science teacher.

If you add more flour to bread dough, it won't rise. Why? Because the yeast can't lift the added weight. The dough won't work if you cut the yeast in half and use the same amount of flour. In either case, less is still less - something suffers.

So how can you get more with less?

Retail management is wearing too many hats; are they supposed to put on another one? Instead of adding staff, are retailers supposed to give existing staff even more responsibilities? Is a store department manager supposed to manage an additional department's employees?

In all of these cases, something has to give because the reality is less is still less.

This reminds me of another old saying I often heard at NRF, "perception is reality." No, the only reality is reality. If I perceive I'm Tom Cruise - sorry - it doesn't make me Tom Cruise. I think that makes me delusional. The only reality is reality.

Trying to do more with less, cutting past the fluff and the fat into the marrow of a retail organization, has led to the following:

  • Deterioration of basic merchandising and display techniques
  • Deterioration of hiring standards
  • Fewer people on the sales floor
  • Less training by the few who run the sales floor
  • An emphasis on looking backward at data rather than selling in the moment

So what should you do? Make a list every morning of what you want to accomplish. Next, prioritize it. Work through your list. What is left each day may be insignificant or major. After a while, you'll probably see that many major things were left undone.

We've seen plenty of "profitable" companies crowing about how they are doing more with less. Really or are they just doing less?

For many retail businesses, the bread is in the pan - waiting to rise to the occasion.

What's your choice going to be?

Access My FREE 5-Part Retail Sales Training Course