Retail Area Leaders spend at least 70% of their time in stores, so it makes good business sense that every store visit has a positive impact and delivers great outcomes for both Area Leader and the store.

I’ve done more store visits than I can count during my career, and I know that the quantity of store visits you do doesn’t lead to performance. It’s what you focus on in your store visits that makes the difference.

Here are my three key steps for retail area leaders who want to have store visits that positively impact performance


Have a clear purpose and a clear idea of the outcomes you want to achieve

This is where preparation comes in. It’s essential to know your region’s targets for the month and how each store is tracking before you go and visit. Look at the performance of each store. What is the data telling you?

The better you know these numbers, the better you can discuss specific strategies with the store manager to improve results. With this clarity, you can ask yourself what I want to achieve from this visit. And what do I need the store manager to take away from the visit?

Action: Download my Store Visit Preparation Sheet and work your way through it and ask your Store Manager to prepare with this template


Make the store visit matter

Give your store manager your undivided attention! When planning your visits, let your store managers know when you are visiting. Ideally, allow time to leave the store to have a one-on-one. I like to have a local coffee shop in mind so we can focus without distractions. When you have high-quality one-on-ones, you will need less of them, so even if this seems like a big demand on your time initially, stick with it, and you’ll get the long-term benefits. Be genuine and attentive during these conversations – but also be very clear on the purpose.

Action: Use this Area Leader Store Visit Template to ensure you know your key questions and to keep a record of agreed actions. This is also useful for effectively following up on your meeting and ensuring everything is on the right track.


Connect with the team, not just the store manager.

While spending time with the store manager is a priority, it’s crucial to also spend some time with the assistant store manager and any team members working that day. These people are on the sharp end of delivering strategy, and you’ll gain valuable insights into what’s working and not working while also building relationships. These are your potential future leaders, so investing time here will pay off when building your succession plan.

When it comes to area leader store visits, I’m a big believer in ‘quality over quantity’.