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Small Business Center

The Debrief

March 10, 2022

By Angel Cicerone, Tenant Mentorship

One of the most powerful and effective management tools is the debrief. It is an important way to end a particular program or sales cycle by analyzing performance and brainstorming opportunities to improve.

The end of the holiday sales season is one good time to debrief, while the circumstances are still fresh in your mind. You also may want to schedule debrief sessions monthly or as often as once a week, depending on the type of business you run.

Gather your staff together for an undisturbed hour or so and review the different aspects of your business over the time period you’re reviewing — e.g., customer service, product mix, customer satisfaction, sales goals, marketing effectiveness.

Ask the basic questions about each area: What did we do right? What could we have done better?

In the debrief process, there is no “wrong.” The key is for everyone to feel safe enough to be honest about their perspectives and learn from the experience.

Questions for Discussion

Did we meet our goals? If so, what elements of our plan helped us get there? If not, what prevented us from hitting those numbers?

Was our marketing effective? Did we see an increase in customers, sales, foot traffic and/or average sale?

Did we properly track and monitor these efforts? Which programs worked best? Whichever programs we decide to keep, how will we modify and or improve them next time? Are there any new programs to add to the mix?

Did we have the right product? The right price? Did customers seem put off by any particular items or category of items? Suggestions for purchasing next time? What do we need more of? Less?

Did everyone meet their sales goals? For those who did, what do you think were the reasons behind that achievement? For those who didn’t, what obstacles prevented you from reaching the goal? What can we do to better train or help the staff to meet and exceed goals next time?

The purpose of the debrief is not punitive. It is to get honest input, to gather information from everyone’s perspective to improved decisions next time.

The key to a successful debrief is for everyone to get as specific as possible with their feedback. They can’t just say, “We didn’t reach our goal because there wasn’t enough traffic.” If they think there wasn’t enough traffic, encourage everyone to dig deeper. For example, did our marketing efforts drive traffic? If not, what could we do better? Was our conversion rate up? If average sale was down, is that an opportunity to adjust your pricing strategy?

Be sure to write everything down in detail so you can revisit the suggestions as you plan for next time.

Small Business Center

ICSC champions small and emerging businesses in getting from business plan to brick-and-mortar.

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