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Creating a Digital Retail Opening and Closing Checklist

Apr 28, 2022

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While working in retail requires a lot of interaction with customers, every day begins and ends with the process of setting up and breaking down the store for the day. This process can seem simple or intuitive.

Anyone who has worked in retail knows that a lot happens outside of standard operating hours, and there’s nothing worse than coming in to open at the start of your shift and realizing last night’s closing team forgot crucial steps in the process. There is also the common experience of a new manager flustered to discover that their team was improperly trained and has been skipping important steps all along. This is not uncommon, as many of these official checklists are one-time printouts—displayed out of sight (if at all), rarely updated, and certainly incapable of informing higher-ups if the processes have been carried out properly.

So, how should you go about building the perfect checklist for opening and closing your shop, making sure your employees are properly trained in the specifics, and know for a fact that brand compliance is being done right?

First, you’ll want to determine how much time is needed to complete all the necessary tasks. This will have some bearing on how to schedule your staff, to be certain that you have the correct number of workers to get the ball rolling each day and that your shutdown crew won’t be overwhelmed and scrambling at night.

When it comes to scheduling staff, some may need to arrive an hour before doors open or just 15 minutes in advance, depending on the responsibilities assigned. For example, if an associate has safe-counting or keyholder responsibilities, they will need a bit of extra time to get set up before customers arrive. Likewise, it may take employees longer to clean up the store at closing when large promotions are ending and signage needs to be taken down. Also, keep in mind that for cash-counting and door-locking procedures, you’ll always want at least two staff members present to ensure accountability.

Next, you’ll need to come up with a standardized list of all the duties to be completed for the store to successfully open and close. What are the most important things that keep your stores running? A full stock? Accurately updated signage with pricing and sales? Properly operating cash registers? These are things that must be verified or done every single time the store is opened or closed; occasional, one-off, weekly, or monthly tasks do not need to be included on these particular checklists. (If there are tasks, deliveries, pick-ups, store visits, or other events that always happen on the same days, it may make sense for your team to create individual checklists for each specific day of the week.)

Benefits of Standardized Opening and Closing Procedures

By standardizing your opening and closing procedures with daily checklists for each, your whole team will remain organized and focused by making sure that no necessary tasks are left incomplete.

Additional benefits include:

  • Better Communication: Both opening and closing checklists serve as a means of communication between the closing and opening teams. It allows staff to make note of any inconsistencies or ongoing issues and makes apparent what was or was not completed during the previous shift.
  • Increased Accountability: If something is neglected or done incorrectly, it’s clear where the issue stems from. By ticking off tasks on daily checklists, an employee is taking responsibility for that duty.
  • Cost Savings: By including checklist items like turning the lights off and turning down the thermostat at close, retailers can save a significant amount on utility costs. It’s a simple money-saving measure that could easily be overlooked if not included on a standardized store opening and closing checklist.
  • Better Security: A checklist can ensure that all proper security procedures are followed when the store is closing, from making sure the alarm is set correctly and all doors are locked to securing the safe and ensuring any high-value pieces are removed from front windows and stored safely.
  • Improved Safety: Sanitation is always important to keep employees and customers safe. Tasks may include making sure hand sanitizing stations are filled, bathrooms are clean/stocked, and high-touch surfaces have been wiped down with disinfectant.

Do It Digitally

Just because it’s important to maintain an opening/closing checklist doesn’t mean it needs to be an old-fashioned “pen and paper” list. Manual paper lists weren’t adequate even when they were they only option, as they are prone to wear and tear and are limited by their visibility within the store itself.

In an era where every single employee has a personal communication device in their pockets, using a digital task manager tool for your business is the clear winner for keeping everybody on track.

With a workforce management task management solution, you can not only provide your team with store-wide and individual checklists, but you can also be certain they are being seen and carried out. With easy photo messaging capabilities, workers can send photographic evidence of store displays and layouts back to management to be sure branding guidelines are being followed. Moreover, team communication tools allow for any obstacles to be identified, discussed, and dealt with as a team to be certain that everyone is contributing to the store’s success branding guidelines are being followed.

Team communication tools also allow for any obstacles to be identified, discussed, and dealt with as a team to be certain that everyone is contributing to the store’s success.

How to Create Your Own Retail Store Opening and Closing Checklist

Here are some examples of the steps you can take to come up with and execute your own checklists. (Remember, every retailer and each store will have its own unique routine based on building, layout, and staff, so keep that in mind when creating your checklists.)

Brainstorm What to Include

First, you’ll want to collaborate with your team members to draft a list of all the tasks that are completed during the opening and closing of your store. Include everything, even little tasks that seem like muscle memory. This will ensure that new trainees don’t forget anything as they learn the process.

If there are certain tasks that need to be completed by a particular employee (e.g., a keyholder who needs to lock the doors), make sure to designate and inform that employee.

Be sure to update the list as needed for brand compliance requests, such as holiday displays, seasonal stock changeouts, and appropriate sale pricing notices.

Create a Logical Order

Put some thought into the order that tasks should be completed in. For example, making sure all customers have left the store should be done before associates leave the sales floor to count their tills or bring out cleaning supplies. Locking the doors, meanwhile, will need to be done multiple times—once when the store closes to the public and again when staff leave—so be sure to include it on the list as many times as it needs to get done.

If organizing every single task chronologically doesn’t work for your team, you can try grouping tasks together and keeping those subsections in chronological order. Arranging the checklist such that associates can follow a clear and logical order lessens the chance that anything will fall through the cracks and get missed.

Test It Out

Once you’ve gathered all the tasks to include and sorted them into a specific order, allow your team to test the checklist out. In the process, they may find certain items work better in a different order or that some tasks require more time to complete. Tweak the list until it works the best for your specific store.

Make It a Habit

You can always make changes to your store’s opening and closing checklists. But once you’ve got it mostly set, put it into action.

Train (or refresh) all opening/closing employees on each task on the list so there will be no excuses for not knowing how or forgetting to do something. By implementing the checklist and expecting it to be followed every day, it should quickly become habit for everyone involved.

Having a retail store opening and closing checklist helps ensure important tasks are completed at the end of each day and stores can start the day on the right footing.

The most important step for retailers to add to their checklist is this one: Adopt modern workforce management with WorkForce Software. Our solutions are designed to help retailers manage their teams digitally, making work easier and ultimately giving employers and employees alike the tools they need to succeed.

Learn more about improving store operations by engaging your employees using communication and task management tools at WorkForce for Retailers.

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