Is structure and a set way of always doing things the right way forward? Or is rolling with what is thrown at you and adapting your business to deal with this the correct way in the modern world?
I have thought a great deal about this over the past few weeks. I have worked for many multiple retailers who have set policies and procedures for just about every eventuality. They usually have a company intranet where you go to find out what they require of you if a customer falls over, if an employee calls in sick, if a customer claims they have been given the wrong change, if just about anything.
There are other companies I have worked for and with that operate under a flatter management structure, where the heads of divisions and areas are much closer to the action and the team are empowered to make decisions that benefit the company and, more importantly, the customers.
You can probably tell from my tone that I am in favour of the second type. I think that training, coaching and mentoring your colleagues in the ethos of the company, and how you operate will give them the confidence to make the right decisions when dealing with customers. Being the business owner (as I'm sure many of you are) means that it's your ethos and your operation that you will be communicating. This flat structure means that there are not many layers of authority and it's easy for your sales team to contact you with any questions, suggestions or feedback.
Thinking in your feet isn't just something that you, the business owner, should be doing. You want an entire team that is able to be entrepreneurial in the same way. Building in incentives, to make your employees think that they own a part of the business will help you in this cause. Whether that is offering shares or offering a proportion if the sales commission is entirely up to what you are comfortable with.