A quick change: A retail consultant who turns things around

September 18, 2017 Rebecca White

Change doesn’t have to take a long time, making it happen quickly has its benefits. Sometimes you need to plan for a long term transformation, but sometimes you need to turn things around now. This is something Talmix consultant Vic thrives on doing, and in his specialist area of retail, the short term is often crucial.

Vic was educated in engineering before going on to do an MBA. He has 20+ years of consulting and industry experience in food and non-food retail. He is an expert in the field, “my expertise is operational - I’m most comfortable on out in the field, on ground level zero, in the store, at district and regional level. I drive operational, field management and customer experience excellence.” Going independent 6 years ago was a chance to find a new challenge. 

From the bottom to the top - he’ll get you there!

With Vic you get a consultant whose personal strategy is to spend the majority of time out in the ‘boxes’ themselves, improving things. But when improvements start to take effect he says you really have to start looking upstream. Take the learnings found in the field and create overall company effect by looking at the whole picture - what is happening in the supply chain, in merchandising and advertising, how they are approaching buying and the effect that is having on the store. The things that IT and accounting do can also impact the time and information that they give out to those in the field. So he summarises that, “while most progress comes from inside the box, at some point when you’ve solved that bit, and it is running well, you have to look upstream for a total effect.”

Consulting that turns people on

With retail, as with most sectors, effective change is all about getting buy-in from the people you are working with - “I’ve found after 20 years that it is a lot easier to turn on the lights in the store than it is to turn on the people. And so, I’ve had great ideas go nowhere and had mediocre ideas be wildly successful.” Vic is clear on the reason for this; “it is down to the people getting behind the change, feeling that they’ve had input in it, and their belief in it makes it succeed. When the belief isn’t there they give half-hearted efforts.” It’s not just about having good ideas or using best practices, change happens when you get within the culture of the organisation, and get people to believe in the idea. 

There is of course natural resistance to change, so Vic’s advice on countering this is to communicate from an early stage so that there are no surprises. If they understand what is happening, what they need to do and what the progress is then the endpoint won’t be a surprise. Do this by making people accountable in the change - using brainstorming and workshops to draw out their ideas on why things need to change and then incorporating them into the change itself. That way they are part of the solution in a real way.

Changing for the here and now

The beauty of retail is that most things are short term - you can change quickly. Most retailers review metrics and trends daily and look at what happened yesterday. “As a consultant you mirror this, but you can apply methodologies to review and address outliers, work out what is going on there and work with the organisation’s management to get them back on track.”

This is perfect for Vic as he loves turnaround work. “Usually everyone has a high attention span for it. People know that their livelihood is on the line. One of my favourite projects was with a regional grocer in the US who had been given up for dead by all of the analyst reports, they were in a very competitive region and their stores were not in the best locations. I got a chance to go in and work with the team - I found out very quickly that they were very decentralised and had a few different cowboys running their own operations. There wasn’t much direction and so we had to update and standardise all the processes for out in the field; we instituted metrics for each location and set budgets for each store based on needs that would be based on volumes and receipts. It wasn’t just that their budget was 2% tighter than last year, it was about what they should be on at this level at this size of store. We changed all the schedules to meet the customer demand, not the employee demand, we were then when the customer wanted us to be. And out of all the savings gained we put 50% back into the perimeter departments which were the high margin areas (fish, meat and perishables) put labour back into them to make it look good. The grocer came out of its poor state and is still doing well 8 years later.”

Why you should work with Vic

When you are looking to make a difference in your retail or consumer company today, Vic is your man. “I’m a short-term, ROI focused consultant. Long system installs, 3 year supply chain efforts aren’t me. I’m someone who wants change in now. I like to come in as a project management leader or an SME subject matter expert. I bring a wealth of retail best practices so people can see what a Walmart or a Nordstroms are doing right now to make them different.” So when you need to look at store operations excellence or customer service excellence look no further than Vic. 

For your opportunity to work with an independent consultant like Vic, speak to us today. 

About the Author

Rebecca White

As Marketing Campaigns Manager at Talmix, Becca is focused on helping potential and existing customers understand how Talmix can help them unlock the power of the world's independent workforce. She strives to create killer content marketing, telling the stories of our customers' success.

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