The truth is, running a convenience store is not that hard – but staff management is. Most of my time is taken up dealing with staff issues. So how can tech help manage people? The honest answer is that it will never replace a good chat with your staff, or a calm head (the ‘Alan Sugar-style’ is not the way forward). However, it can help reduce the work load associated with your business. This leaves my managers with more time to deal with customers and improving store standards.

We use a web-based program called ‘Parim’. This one tool does all of the following: rotas, holiday allowances & booking, absence controls, proof of right to work, clocking-in system, smart phone apps, messaging systems… the list goes on. Without getting too techy, you manage your rota via a web browser and your staff can view this in the same way or via an app – if you have used Google calendar (or Apple’s equivalent) you are more than halfway there. A quick look on Google and you will find lots of different options from different companies all offering free trials – this really is a huge market!

We have been using our current system for more than two years now and have shown it to a lot of different retailers as well as people from different businesses. The one thing that always amazes me is that everyone loves our system, but it is normally closely followed by a “but”. The “but” is the fact they don’t like change and it’s far easier to find a reason not to make the move rather than make some changes. The reality is this will be a big change for your business if you decide to give it a go and it will take a couple of months to get things right. ‘But’ imagine the benefits it could bring: even after paying the monthly costs it saves me more than £6,000 a year across three stores; more importantly it takes far less of my own and my staff’s time. No more disagreements about rotas, or when someone is due back from holiday, or forgetting to cover a shift! It’s an end-to-end solution.

When was the last time you did a store refit? Maybe now is the time to refresh your staff management; it’s your biggest cost and your greatest asset, and it deserves a second look.