The Fundamental Shift In Behaviour To Be A High-Performing Area Manager

The Fundamental Shift In Behaviour To Be A High-Performing Area Manager


The way we shop is changing. All age groups are shopping “omnichannel”, in shops, online, click and collect, online catalogues, social media, through payment channels and we are even buying from other countries.

Younger generations in particular shop quite differently. While older generations will “browse”, ie do their research online, younger generations are much more likely to use social media and bloggers, etc.

Why does this shift in buying patterns matter?

Changing shopping habits and thinking requires a change in the way we appeal to customers, the omnichannel experience in store.

The variance is between:

  • the advert generation
  • the website generation and
  • the social media generation

Availability is another factor. Everything is available anywhere, shoppers may know the price of everything but the value of nothing – to paraphrase Oscar Wilde.

Value perception is changing. Today younger shoppers use brands to create the reference point, then look for a bargain while on their £500+ phone – the Primani effect.

So what?

The retail experience must be superior to online. Even the online retailers always make suggestions and reference linked products. If the retail experience is noticeably different we will build business. This means the store experience from the Area Manager must be noticeably different.

The way we serve customers and the way we engage teams therefore needs to change.

Creating a team leader for 2020 requires new thinking.

Historical Area Management.

Focus was on Compliance management, criticism, on under performance and “giving lists”, not completely true, but how many of us have said to ourselves:

  • Why do people not think for themselves?
  • Why do standards vary so much?
  • Why don’t they do what I ask?

They are not engaged.

This probably means you are relying on individuals rather than a good system. We see many businesses who have parts of a system and talented people, however if the spread between your top stores and bottom ones is greater than 25% then there is a performance opportunity.

What is the spread in your area?

Flying around and issuing instructions has limited impact and is certainly not accepted by younger people who rightly question decisions.

What changes are needed for successful Area Management in preparation for 2020?

Set the scene.

The days of unannounced visits to “catch out” people are not productive.

Set up 3 types of store visit:

  • Planning and game plan setting,
  • Coaching on implementation and
  • Review with team development

Give outlined agendas for each and require preparation to make the most of your experience during your visits.


Create your own “BuzzFeed” through What’s App groups to share success stories, give reminders and create a supportive network helping each other to shared agendas, ideas and challenges.


Your role is only partly to achieve targets. It also includes, delivering your brand values and establishing a performance culture.

Give clear targets and objectives.

Create your set of values upon which your team make commercial decisions.

Look for opportunities first, not problems to fix.


Everyone at every level should decide how they will achieve their targets and objectives, within the framework set – not trying to second guess you because they do not have clear guidelines.


Every visit should include sessions to help your teams do their job well – their needs, their mindset, their skills – reduce your time on compliance and increase your time on skills development.

Bright Spots

Look for success stories to share more than focusing on problems to fix. This creates a positive atmosphere with your team.

Control and Compliance

Teams should be responsible for their own standards. You cannot coach anyone to turn up on time, because it is simply a standard.

Create with your team a set of Non Negotiable Standards that they score themselves every week, out of 10. Use the time saved not having compliance conversations but coaching conversations.

Be where you are

I had an Area Manager once who went into stores and was on the phone to the centre and visa versa. Be where you are, set times for calls and emails and give your store teams clear times when they will have your undivided attention.

Competitive Awareness

Know your market and your competition. Retail competition is now in many guises, online, social media, etc.

How aware are we of our competitors or ourselves:

  • What is on pages 1,2 and 3 of your website right now?
  • What is on the front pages of your competitors?
  • What social media communications went out this week from your company?
  • What did customers say about you this week, social media etc?

The game has changed, we need to change with it or suffer a slow decline.

Being close to your customers and to your team is the new performance model, not instruction and compliance.

To see how we can help you convert more customers, call Scott on 01344 849397 or email

Find out how you can convert more “savvy shoppers” by getting in touch today