The Ultimate Guide to Cash Counter Efficiency COLAB with Jenna of Workspacery!
There’s one space on your sales floor that is kind of the cornerstone to all of your retail sales success. This space is something I often see undervalued, taken for granted, abused and mistreated. That space is your cash counter. It doesn’t matter what you call it; the cash wrap, the wrap desk, the sales counter, it is a holy space, and deserves to be treated and organized as such.
Now, I feel so passionately about this space and all of the opportunity it provides you to be a force on the sales floor with your customer, and as a leader to your team, that I enlisted the help of a work space professional! Her name is Jenna, and she is the owner of Workspacery! Her incredible tips and tricks for running an efficient office space got my mind spinning one day and I invited her to collaborate on organizing the unconventional office space that is the cash counter of brick and mortar shops!
In our talks I explained to Jenna that I believe a cash counter that functions well should work as a toolbox and an assistant simultaneously. Then we got to work putting together a plan for you to optimize and organize not only a clutter free counter, but an efficient sales floor office that facilitates and expedites tasking and selling; meaning no matter what it is you need to get done, or what tools you need to do it, you can store them, find them quickly, return them, and get back to the most important thing; providing incredible customer service which helps you sell more to each customer.
Yes, that’s right. The objective might seem to be a clean and organized work space and it is, but the bigger and more important objective is that a clean and organized cash counter provides you with more opportunity to impact and increase sales! Last, the biggest shock of them all is that in order to upkeep your counter you need a rock solid system for maintaining it, and we got you covered there too!
First, let’s talk about all the stuff you need behind the register, and maybe some of what you don’t. There are four categories of items you need around your counter to be successful. Those four categories are:
Office supplies: Things you need to complete your daily paperwork, take messages, and track your sales goals. Things like staplers, pens, pencils, paper clips, paper, hole punch, phone, garbage can, and clipboards.
Transaction tools/supplies: Things you need to efficiently complete a POS transaction for the customer such as: shopping bags, hanger storage, receipt tape, gift cards, a register, credit card machine, manual transaction paperwork (just in case you lose power or internet), sensor storage (when applicable), sensor remover/machine, business cards.
Sales floor tools/resources: These are things you need to upkeep your sales floor. Having them handy makes the process of completing those necessary tasks more efficient, and having these tools in the same place every single day makes them easier to find, and easier to put away..which means you and your sales team can get back to customer service and selling faster. These are things like: hangers, stickers for markdowns, size separators, hang tags, tagging guns, pricing guns, fishing line for displays, and outfit strips.
Development tools/resources: These are the things you use to keep your team motivated, informed, accountable, and improving. Resources such as a standards of operation binder which include training manuals for every function that goes on, and how you want it to be done step by step. These ensure consistency and make a great reference when someone runs into an issue they don’t know how to do. It’s also your daily paperwork (usually found on a clipboard) where employees get or set their goals for the day and get a run down of important information to conduct business on your sales floor.
What you don’t need: This might be hard to hear, but when we’re working in tight conditions there’s a few things that take up space, create distractions, and could create a very big mess if you have them at the register. These are things like: personal cell phones, handbags, and food. Also, it never surprises me but it seems to be a very common occurrence to have several changes of shoes behind the register. The last thing you should have to deal with while ringing out a customer is tripping over, or juggling someone else’s shoes! Don’t worry we’ve got solutions for you.
Cash Counter Success.
Now that you know a little bit more about what the cash counter should have, and do for you, let’s dive in to how to set it up for optimal success. As Jenna and I were discussing this, she asked me to name off several of the most common pain points, and then we discussed solutions for them. Below you will find several of the top issues I’ve seen, and how you can fix them in your store.
As a side note: one of our biggest accomplishments (if I do say so myself) was creating solutions for anyone regardless of the size or shape of their counter. So, if you’re thinking “this won’t be for me — my counter is too small or too unique” — just keep reading, my friend. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. To get started let me break down the fundamentals of cash counter etiquette and the problems I see while I’m coaching so you can prioritize accordingly for your store.
01. Consistency + Maintenance. When you've got a team and members of that team are working different shifts, you've got anywhere from 3 to 15+ people all organizing and putting things away differently. This causes frustration between team members, it leads to tasks not being done because a person couldn’t find the tool they needed to complete the task, and it’s a huge catalyst for inefficiency, which means it takes a whole lot more time to complete tasks (that don’t directly make you more money) than it should, and that breeds team resentment.
02. Junk drawers and small spaces! Jenna and I really put our heads together for this one because everyone has space issues when it comes to the cash counter, and prioritizing what should take up prime real estate and what should not. After all, you want to keep the actual counter the customer sees free of most things so that they can lay down their merchandise, you can process the transaction, and move on without incident. Clutter only makes the process take longer and can give the wrong impression to the customer.
03. Inefficiency. Walking away to go get more bags, boxes, receipt tape etc because your cash counter hasn’t been properly replenished can dramatically impact the time it takes you to cash out a customer, and negatively impact their experience. Looking unprepared and disorganized is completely avoidable. Everything you need with a backup should be within an arm's reach of the space you stand in to complete a transaction, and when it’s not, you take a lot more steps than necessary.
04. Messes and clutter. It only takes one big sale and you have a counter full of hangers, or one return and you’ve got a counter full of product. It only takes a few team members not putting their personal belongings away to completely clutter your space. When you have no standard routine for how a space should be cleaned or cleared by the end of every shift, or right after finishing a transaction it unfairly leaves a giant mess for the closing staff to deal with.
05. Unaware, unprepared, uninformed team members. The cash counter isn’t a hang out. You shouldn’t have chairs back there that encourage employees to congregate and socialize or seek refuge behind the cash counter. It leads sales associates to be anti-social with customers which can impact the customers experience and negatively impact sales. A fully organized and efficient cash counter provided easy access to all necessary tools and resources so a sales associate can be super successful and get back out to the sales floor ASAP. The cash counter provides a home base for all of the training, development, and information a team member needs in order to be successful that day, but it’s important that all of that information is mobile so again, they aren’t hanging out back there for longer than necessary. If your cash counter isn’t optimized to prioritize this information, with a repeatable routine that encourages efficient goal setting and motivation you simply leave money on the table. This is not the fault of the team either. This is your responsibility as the leader to set the expectation, create the routine, and hold them accountable for following it.
OK! YAY! NOW LET’S GET TO THE SOLUTIONS!!!!
Purge. Unfortunately we can’t get rid of everything that doesn’t give us joy, but Jenna suggests cleaning out your cash counter and being realistic about what you need from day to day and finding new homes for things you don’t use every week. When space is limited you should only be housing things you use frequently under the cash counter.
Give everything a designated home with a label. Don’t leave it up to fate (or hope) that your team will put things back where they belong. When everything has a designated space with a label it’s easy to locate, grab, go, finish, return and get back to the customer. When everything is stored well, it becomes more obvious when supplies of a particular thing are running low, so you can replenish them right away instead of running out mid- day when you really need them.
Establish a routine checklist for opening and closing. The routine ensures that everything including your cash counter is being checked and replenished multiple times a day.
Jenna says: When everyone is on the same page and doing things in the same manner, order, etc., it creates a cohesive system for all involved and makes training new team members a breeze. In addition, having clear and labeled “homes” for all supplies, etc. creates visual clues that are quick and easy to spot, so things don’t get thrown in random places when team members are in a hurry. The easier and more intuitive the organizational system, the more quickly things can be found and put away; the key here is to keep it simple, simple, simple so employees don’t have to think twice about where something is or goes after using it once.
Vertical storage. Hanging supplies vertically rather than laying them flat practically eliminates clutter because each individual thing will have a home and not left piled on top of each other. Pegboard storage systems are easy to install under your cash counter or inside a back counter cabinet where the customer cannot see. They’re easy to label, and use. I found these metal peg boards in the $5 bin at target, that come with hooks for vertical storage, but you can find other options online.
Back counters! I often see retailers not taking advantage of the extra space their back wall (behind the register) offers to them. Installing a second counter for you and your staff can provide so much extra storage, and you can finally get those shoes off the floor. If you don’t have a back counter I would strongly suggest thinking about one. You might have to move your current counter out just a few feet.
Whiteboards instead of paper and post it notes. Jenna suggested a whiteboard for daily goal setting, team “check-ins”, and messages as a way to minimize sticky notes and papers. I was so grateful that Jenna recalled this from her time working in retail. Check ins, hand offs, chat ins, - whatever you call them for your store, are essentially a run down of information and sales numbers that each staff member gets after they clock in, but before they go out on the sales floor. This gives them all the information that they need to be successful.
I took this whiteboard idea one step further and found dry erase clipboards which make them mobile and handy no matter where you are on the sales floor. It’s entirely your preference, but you could then potentially write most of your daily checklists/open and closing routine (the things that never change) as well as the sales outline in permanent marker (thin tip), so then all the staff needs to do is fill in the whiteboard with the necessary information for each day with a dry erase marker. As Jenna pointed out: a permanent marker outline prevents accidental erasing and eliminates having to write the same thing over and over each day/week!! We also love, love, love the bonus of SAVING TREEEEES!
Horizontal dowels for gift wrap and hanger storage under the cash counter, or along the side of your cash counter. Having rolling gift wrap and a hanger system under or alongside the cash counter simply makes your job easier by housing things that take up space on the counter. Don’t forget that your counter has sides and they’re an excellent place to stock extra supplies, and or sell product. Don’t leave these spaces empty.
5 minutes a day checklist. If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean. If you have five minutes of down time it makes sense that there’s a “five spare minutes” checklist that simply has you taking stock of your counter, and tidying it up.
Personal cubbies. If space allows — having a personal cubby for each person's belongings is much more effective than cluttering the floor, or the counter. The cash counter isn’t the most appropriate place for these things because they’re a distraction, so look for solutions in your back room as well for staff to place their things in secure storage. Lockers or locked cabinets work well.
Small bins and drawer dividers. If you do have to use drawers and cabinets it’s important to separate items and small bins and drawer dividers offer this incredible solution for keeping everything, no matter how small, in its own place.
Snap a photo. Commit to the new standard. Each function of the store should have some kind of standard operating procedure that ensures each person is doing that function consistently. All of these standards with directions are generally housed in a binder for training new employees, but work as a brilliant reference guide when you forget or have questions. Once a store sets their cash counter the way they want it, it’s advantageous to photograph it, make a map of the counter and place that standardized tool in your binder for easy reference and training.
Accountability. Now absolutely none of this is going to matter if you or the leadership team do not hold everyone accountable for following the system. I often find stores will use being busy as an excuse to leave everything for the closing staff. A few hours of busy shopping traffic can leave the cash counter looking like a war zone. There's hangers (sometimes sensors) that were just removed from purchased items. There's pens everywhere, the gift cards and business cards are running low, etc. This is a space where staff will be expected to handle cash with accuracy, balance tills and deposits (sometimes throughout the day) and especially at closing time. They certainly don't need a messy counter complicating that process. It would be so much easier to maintain it throughout the day if there was a step by step system for cashing each customer out, that includes organizing the space after each customer, as well as holding your staff accountable to restock the counter before they leave for the day no matter the time.
Sometimes shop owners don't see the immediate connection between an organized and efficient cashwrap and maximizing sales. An efficient cashwrap facilitates and expedites the cash counter experience for the customer, but also so the salesperson can easily maintain it and get back to serving other customers on the sales floor which makes the store more money.
There it is! An organized and efficient cash counter that helps you keep a tidy store, run a successful sales team, encourage teamwork, and prioritize the customer’s satisfaction!!! A big thank you to Jenna who blew my mind with her knowledge of organization and dedication to this project! You can find more information on Jenna and what she does at Workspacery by clicking these links:
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