Mr. Branch Manager, is your branch an operations or sales centre?

Dear Branch Manager, do you run your branch focused or costs and operations or sales and profit? Perhaps yours is a service centre focused purely on the former and that’s what’s required of you. And if that’s the case, that’s okay. Just know that, that’s the exception, not the norm. Still, don’t sit too pretty if the costs of running your branch are continually being met from elsewhere. That luxury won’t last. You’re likely to soon be tasked with driving sales initiatives and maximizing profitability. Now, if your case is the latter, then this message is for you. Your branch isn’t just a cog in the wheel of corporate machinery; it’s a thriving hub of sales and profit potential, waiting to be unlocked. Such is the importance of branch management. Let’s discover how to get there. Walk with me.

Is the problem the mounting ops workload or the culture set by the branch manager?

To begin with, in the realm of branch management, there’s a prevailing mindset that views branches primarily as cost centres—places where expenses are incurred and operations are managed. So much so that businesses that sell through branches find themselves in need of placing a salesperson in the branch whose job is to, well, sell. The only problem is, most branch managers see this salesperson as an extra resource to be absorbed into never ending operations. Others place him at the front desk to deal with walk-in and ‘phone customer queries. “Si, ni mtu wa sales. Wacha akae hapo ang’ang’ane na customer.” (Let him sit there and deal with the irritating customer queries that keep interrupting our operations; he is a salesman, isn’t he?)

With that kind of messaging coming from none other than the senior most person in the branch, the die is cast; the message is loud and clear. “This is how we perceive Sales. It’s not our job, it’s theirs.” It’s us vs them. And the rest of the staff follow suit. The rest, of course, except for the salesperson who, already engaged in the dauting task of selling, is further side-lined and made to feel like the unwanted stepchild. Inevitably, the plan to convert the branch to a sales outlet aborts. It get worse. The branch manager, hiding behind the now convenient fact that the salesperson technically doesn’t report to him, but the sales manager, unashamedly blames the sales person. “He can’t sell. Give us another one.”

Read: 4 practical ways to resolve Sales vs Operations fights

Importance of branch management. Strategies for success: Ways to sell without, er, selling.

But was the problem the workload or the style of management? For years, the focus of branches has been on minimizing costs and streamlining operations. And they wonder why, despite these efforts, the branch still struggles to meet revenue targets and generate sustainable profits. Yet, if branch managers focused inward and outward, they would be amazed by the radical shift in branch performance. “But I don’t know how to sell; I’m not a salesperson,” many respond. No. You’re not. And you don’t have to be. You are, however, a leader. And the message you send out through your actions and words, dictate the tone of how Sales is perceived, and therefore, treated.

importance of branch management

You could start here.  Encourage your front office staff to change their attitude to selling and advance their career with these four ways. For instance, while issuing the Visa Card the customer service rep adds: “Shop with it. Just swipe. Unlike MPESA, it’s free.” Or, “I see from your flight bookings request that your Director will be away for three days. We also do hotel bookings. Let me give you three options for accommodation and transfers in Kisumu for you to consider.” Or: “You should get your son a junior membership he can grow with; it’s a fraction of adult membership cost, we’ll send him a birthday gift, and he won’t have to top up when he turns 18.”

Or, to the salesperson: “That customer walking out holds millions in deposits. Check his account. I’ll give you a brief on him, even an introduction as we have a rapport. You should also visit his business. I think you’ll identify many other sales opportunities.” Surely, how does making those suggestions affect operations? And isn’t that the importance of branch management?

Read: Selling is giving a service and giving a service is selling.

Embracing a New Paradigm: Branch as a Sales Outlet

Whether the customer agrees or not is not the issue. In any case, not all sales forays convert to closes. The idea is to plant a seed in his mind; time has proven again and again that in time it will germinate.

You could also have the salesperson sit away from the interruptions of the front desk and focused only on outbound sales, that is. getting new customers. You could also have a weekly meeting with him to find out progress. Better yet, let him give you summarised reports shared with the sales manager whom he reports to, much as he works from your branch. In fact, have Sales as a measurable item on the weekly branch meeting agenda. “This month the focus in on opening the sale and the Sales Manager is here to show us how. We shall then practice over the month and have targets for number of attempts made.”

Further, when the salesperson says, “I think having an activation (outreach, tent) outside the mall here would boost sales,” thinking of the ‘extra workload’ this will bring, you respond with, “No need. They already know about us, and in any case, it will cost us. Instead of that, you ask, “How much are we expecting in sales? Build me a business case. Let me show you how.” In sum, make the salesperson feel wanted, not ostracised. The idea is not to convert to an all-out sales outlet; not necessarily. The idea is to set a sales culture.  And only you, the branch manager, can do that. Such is the importance of branch management.

Unlocking Potential: The role and responsibilities of effective branch managers

As branch manager, it’s imperative to recognize the untapped potential within your branch. Stop seeing yourself solely as an overseer of operations; rather, see yourself as a catalyst for growth and profitability. You are not there just to manage operations efficiently, but to transform your branch into a dynamic sales outlet that drives revenue and fosters customer loyalty. By adopting a sales-centric mindset and leveraging data-driven insights, you can identify new revenue streams, optimize customer experiences, and drive bottom-line results.

Read: Are your employees sabotaging your sales? Here’s what to do

Importance of branch management: Embracing the Shift

In conclusion, the era of viewing branches as mere cost and operations centres is fading. As branch manager, you hold the key to unlocking the full potential of your branch as sales and profit centre. By embracing this shift in perspective and implementing strategies that prioritize revenue generation, you can propel your branch to new heights of success. So, as a branch manager, ask yourself: Are you ready to transform your branch into a profit powerhouse? Are you ready to lead your branch into the future by prioritizing sales and customer engagement?

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