Archived Tips and insight for new Softlines TL?

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Hi all! I was recently promoted to Softlines TL and I was hoping some of you might have some advice or insight to share.

I know that many of you on here are very knowledgeable, however, so my hope was that some of you might be able to suggest some tips and tricks that you've learned in your time at Target that might not be known at my store or stores in my district (since all the local stores are still very new).

Thanks all! It's much appreciated!
 
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Deli Ninja

Formerly Softlines Ninja (Now in Deli Flavor)!
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Take things in small chunks and make sure your team knows what has been really and truly fixed. Always ask them to help maintain what you've done and don't be afraid to ask for help.
Men's denim, in my experience, is the most worthwhile thing to fix first. It tends to stay looking pretty good for a long period of time with minimal maintenance. In Jewelry/Accessories, your vendor is a valuable asset. Get to know them and make sure to thank them. Ours is wonderful and she's a huge help, pushing freight and helping swimwear whenever she has the time. In Intimates... the panty bins are often neglected. Keep an eye out for broken dividers, especially on the ends. Even if it isn't perfectly sorted, it'll make it look neater and be less of a pain to zone. Sleepwear shouldn't be too difficult of an area. Once it's 100%, it should stay that way for some time. And RTW? First of all, good luck. Swimwear is going to deteriorate quickly no matter what you do. I'd say your best bet for keeping things looking better is to make sure your tables don't get overstocked. You may have to get your ETL to fight the flow team on this, but fewer individual items to fold will make it a lot easier to keep the tables from looking like hell.
These are really just suggestions on where to start. Your store will not be exactly like mine but I would be more than happy to answer any more specific questions you have. I'm sure you'll do just fine! I may type up some suggestions for the other SL areas in a bit, but I'll leave this here for you right now.
 
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commiecorvus

Former Signing Ninja
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Get to know your Signing Ninja, well.
Work out schedules for when you'll be doing things so you can coordinate.
Set up a drop off point, that isn't the changing room closet, for signing and fixtures.
Keep good communication and make sure your ninja has access to the adjacencies so if they need to work on something alone they can.
I also recommend bringing them cookies.
 
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sher

Guest
Don't let areas go neglected. Maintaining a zone is a million times easier than starting all over. I swear when my TL ignores areas, when someone finally gets to it, the zone is so bad that it's impossible to tell where the original location for an item is. Most of the time, items being on the exact rack doesn't seem to matter, but sometimes the signing gets all crazy because the wrong things are together. Also, all those c9 pants are a pain in the ass when no one's zoned them.

Try to keep table reshop down. Usually when I open, I do the table stuff ASAP because it's easiest then as long as all the tables were folded the night before and I think that tends to help alleviate over push of table stuff. I guess this little "tip" is only relevant if your store isn't one of the ones that stays past closing. We leave at 11:05 at the latest haha, so I have to take advantage of perfect tables when I can.

Don't do any of the stuff I complain about my TL doing lol. That's all I can think of right now.
 

sigma7

Former ETL-All the Things
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If it's all that bad, I would honestly start with your new adjacencies. Get them set 100% (or as close as you can get) and hold your team accountable for maintaining them. If you have time, work on or task a team memeber with getting the areas that don't reset often (basics etc.) back to brand. You're going to have to get buy in from your flow TL, ETL logistics and ETL salesfloor. They're going to be the ones that can get flow back on process. It does no good to have the salesfloor trying to maintain presentation while flow is still pushing everything everywhere. The whole store has to be on the same page for anything to work right.
 

sigma7

Former ETL-All the Things
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If it's all that bad, I would honestly start with your new adjacencies. Get them set 100% (or as close as you can get) and hold your team accountable for maintaining them. If you have time, work on or task a team memeber with getting the areas that don't reset often (basics etc.) back to brand. You're going to have to get buy in from your flow TL, ETL logistics and ETL salesfloor. They're going to be the ones that can get flow back on process. It does no good to have the salesfloor trying to maintain presentation while flow is still pushing everything everywhere. The whole store has to be on the same page for anything to work right.
 
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sher

Guest
Make sure the tm is doing whatever zoning they can as they put things away. Even if they zone everything to the wrong place, I think the adjacency probably goes easier with everything organized.

That sounds like a tough situation, though, with the low hours. I usually just zone a chunk each day and hope someone comes to the area when I'm not there to do touch ups. At my store, most of the neglect is just because my TLs tend to only send people to the places that have the most reshop, but that doesn't always reflect how things look on the floor. I think they care more about the level of reshop than the zone lately.

One more thing, make sure your team is looking at the labels on pants/shorts (ankle, skinny, flare, boot cut, high waist, etc etc etc). It makes shopping for those things annoying when they're all mixed up. You think you found your size in those beige skinny pants and you pick them up and they're boot cut. The worst.
 

mrknownothing

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One more thing, make sure your team is looking at the labels on pants/shorts (ankle, skinny, flare, boot cut, high waist, etc etc etc). It makes shopping for those things annoying when they're all mixed up. You think you found your size in those beige skinny pants and you pick them up and they're boot cut. The worst.

And I thought the men's jean wall was difficult to shop.
 

Deli Ninja

Formerly Softlines Ninja (Now in Deli Flavor)!
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The best way that I've seen is to get a thorough zone of shoes. Once that is done, try to make sure someone goes through it every couple hours every day to pick things up and drop a few CIHYFS. Some of your team will probably fight you on this, but it really beats just throwing the shoes and boxes on the shelves and running away every night.
 
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As for reshop...work with your guest service people. Don't let them give you a huge pile of unsorted/unfolded/unhung mess. At my store, I tend to send it back in emptier carts, but those carts are all sorted. And regardless of how a TM sorts the stuff, it is all expected to be hung and folded, when at all possible. Teach them to put everything without a sticker on a hanger...we know that isn't always 100%, but that will get them right most of the time. Show them how to fold things properly. If they do the sorting, folding and hanging throughout their shift and don't let it pile up, it does not take them much longer to do and will save your people a lot of work.

If they are super busy swamped (think 4th quarter returns) then let a cart of chaos slide through...but otherwise work with the GSTL with the expectations you need and let them know if the cart isn't sent back properly, it will be sent back to them to redo.
 

mrknownothing

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As for reshop...work with your guest service people. Don't let them give you a huge pile of unsorted/unfolded/unhung mess. At my store, I tend to send it back in emptier carts, but those carts are all sorted. And regardless of how a TM sorts the stuff, it is all expected to be hung and folded, when at all possible. Teach them to put everything without a sticker on a hanger...we know that isn't always 100%, but that will get them right most of the time. Show them how to fold things properly. If they do the sorting, folding and hanging throughout their shift and don't let it pile up, it does not take them much longer to do and will save your people a lot of work.

If they are super busy swamped (think 4th quarter returns) then let a cart of chaos slide through...but otherwise work with the GSTL with the expectations you need and let them know if the cart isn't sent back properly, it will be sent back to them to redo.

Wow. In my A+, ain't nobody got time fo' dat. Our operators do all the folding and hanging, and we just make sure they have enough extra hangers.
 
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Make sure your team is on board. I've worked really hard to get them invested and find out what each person's favorite and least favorite tasks are. By using people where they prefer to work when possible, I know that I can get more work out of them. Sometimes, they just have to work in shoes and they understand it's because I needed them there.

Is your fitting room also the operator? Make sure they're always busy. A pet peeve of mine is walking back and seeing an operator just hanging out. When I see that, I make sure to bring back the girls accessories convertible or some other problem fixture for them to zone. That's what the wheels are for. It's also a good incentive for them to keep working on zoning in Mens/Active/Maternity, which helps maintain those areas throughout the day.

Partnership with the Flow TL is imperative to fixing the zone. They have to know what your expectations are for pushing and you have to give them feedback when it's not being upheld. At my store, flow has the mentality that they have to get it all out as fast as humanly possible. They never follow up or hold the team accountable on their own. Accuracy and overstocking issues run rampant. My schedule only allows me to be present for 2 hours when the flow team is there, so I cannot monitor them constantly.

4x4 walks are overplayed right now, but make sure your team is using that time effectively. We have a whole kit of stuff for the team to take with and fix problems with missing signs, labels, or table numbers. The first couple passes through a department are time-consuming because you'll have lots of little issues to fix, but the goal is maintaining them over time, so it will become quicker and easier as they keep working on it. Make it a priority.

I also agree that it's a waste to fix issues now. Set the new VAs as they come up and it'll be better. The older ones will have lots of missing product, and you'll have new product that isn't on them. Just ensure that brand blocks and racks make sense now. RTW is a huge department, so work ahead on it. If you have Mens one week and RTW setting the next, finish mens and start early on the RTW VA. It's over 3x the floor space as your other departments, so you have to be proactive to tackle that task.

Let me know if you ever need help and feel free to PM specific questions if you ever need anything.

P.S. I'm jealous you have another TL to help out. We're in the process of condensing our entire salesfloor to 1 TL. Looking forward to that.
 

Deli Ninja

Formerly Softlines Ninja (Now in Deli Flavor)!
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I work in a Super and the operator is always busy. In the morning, we have cleanup from the night before (about 50% of the time), table folding in RTW, and the basket at Guest Services from the night before. Then there's the tasks like hanging folded clearance as necessary and, if we get the chance, we wipe down the desk to get all the dust and sometimes clean the mirrors. Yeah, some socializing happens, but I just see that as part of FFF from one TM to another.

Bottom line, between the operator posts here, YMMV. Some stores have a wireless phone for the operator. Mine doesn't.
 
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sher

Guest
Yea, our fitting room attendant is almost always busy. And when they're not, they help out in rtw and accessories (I guess this would depend on the location of your fitting room). That happens rarely, but if fr closes, they usually help with that stuff once it slows down.

While a deeper level of organization would be helpful from the service desk team members, they often don't have the time, space or hangers to do all that stuff mentioned above. I think if they started folding, though, they'd eventually be fast folders.
 
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We're still responsible for our own POGs, so I can't say from experience. However, in terms of partnering with the Presentation TL, I would see if they have specific plans laid out for the week. If so, make sure you're included in any emails about what they're planning to do or were unable to accomplish. That way you know what was supposed to be completed on a certain day and can follow up without walking everything and checking the set date. You'll also know if something did not get finished and what their new plan is. This is assuming, of course, that your store already has strong communication. If not, I would encourage it.

You'll have to be careful how you word it. While it's within your core roles to ensure your department is brand, if they aren't emailing their workload out already, they aren't going to want to do it just so you can audit it. Make sure it's for partnership so you can direct your team to maintain it or speak to the transitions that are occurring(or help prep an area before a big transition- for instance, we usually will de-merch lingerie at close for POG to help that transition go smoother).

It sounds to me like you are doing well thus far. Keep up the good work, and keep asking questions. They first few months everything is new and then the seasons change and it seems new all over again. If you always work to maintain, it becomes that much easier to add a little more.
 

ExpertTL

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I was promoted pretty young and looking back the transition went pretty good, but there were a few things I could have done differently. Firstly, don't back down when being challenged by someone who's older or challenges your authority simply because of your age. For example, when becoming GSA/GSTL, I had an older cashier who kept telling me that she was old enough to be my mother, and that she didn't understand why they promoted me so young (yeah she was pretty rude, in that sweet old lady kinda way). Over time, whenever I asked her to do something, she constantly sought to override me with another leader at the front and encouraged the other cashiers to not listen to me cause I didn't know what I was talking about. So I brought her in the office with another TL present and just had a conversation to clear the air. Turns out it was less an issue of how I ran the front and more of a fact that she had been dealing with personal stuff and just kinda taking it out on me. I told her that if she does have concerns to feel free to bring it up to me because I am straightforward and would rather just talk about it. It was a good learning experience for me also to just be able to listen to a TM without feeling like I needed to constantly talk or control the conversation and it did teach me to learn how to cater my message differently depending on the TM. Not all TMs respond in the same way to instructions, direction, and encouragement.

Secondly, don't be afraid to admit when you don't know something. This may be less of an issue with you at your store but sometimes with being promoted younger people automatically assume that you are a "know-it-all". I had to learn that instead of trying to make shit up as I went along, I got comfortable saying "you know, I am not at all sure what's best practice in this situation, but let me find out and get right back to you." I think it makes yourself more relate-able as a new leader in general. Lastly, find the balance between being professional and not taking yourself too seriously. One thing I did unconsciously was try to take myself too seriously and go over the top to show how mature I was, to the point where some of the team were telling me to loosen up a bit. You obviously don't want to go too far in the other direction where you're too much of a goof and not professional at all where your team will lack respect for you because of it. I ended up finding a good balance with my team of taking opportunities to share in valid frustrations, talk about their personal stuff with them at times, but at others let them know when we have to be able to buckle down and get things accomplished.

Sorry this ended up being a bit long winded but hopefully it helps you out somehow. Seeing as you've already been in the store for one year, your team knows your character, but it does get easier when you've been a leader longer than you have a TM. When I tell my new team members now that I started out as a cashier at 16 they just can't see it lol.
 
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Deli Ninja

Formerly Softlines Ninja (Now in Deli Flavor)!
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I don't have any tips on how to deal with your ETL situation, but I can make a suggestion on reshop. If you're doing a wave zone, grab a handful of hanging and a small stack of folded at least and bring it along. You can put it away as you zone or at the end of that area. If it's 2+ people wave zoning, one could start out doing the reshop and the other can start zoning, with the reshopper joining them when they're done. On a good night, you might take all the returns for each area as you arrive at them.
 
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sher

Guest
I like to zone on chunks, so I take as many pieces of reshop from that chunk as possible and zone and put back at the same time. That works out better with rtw since it's mostly on z racks, and other areas are stuffed in a cart. My store's zone and reshop are suffering right now though. Still playing catch up from that stupid 2 weeks of bogo sales (c9, shorts, dresses and swim and such).

Do your ETLs or STL ever come to help soft lines? Mine do only when the former etl-sl (now etl sales floor, but I think she still has a soft spot for SL) is lod and makes them. But they're always always helping out in hl.
 
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sher

Guest
People hate sl in my store too. The new TMs are being trained and scheduled in soft and hard and they all hate soft lines. One girl was absolutely annoying as hell with her constant complaints the one time she worked in sl. The thing they don't like is that the hanging stuff can't be located via PDA and that it can be a bit of guessing if there's only one or two of something left. I like that part though, because if I'm zoning, as long as the brands are separated, I can just out things wherever I want to that makes sense. I do baby gondolas often, too and I do think that's usually easier than the clothing areas. And stuff gets moved around less often over there in the gondolas so I like that. The annoying new girl is also just not good with little details and didn't like the little stuff like making sure the hangers face the right way, using appropriately sized hangers, folding so it looks good. Stuff like that.

But if your store is going through what mine is at the moment, catching up is going to be hard. We seem to have more people and hours than your store, but I'm guessing we're at dif levels as far as that yearly sale chart thing so it's still just as difficult for us.
 
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For months on end, we started midday zone in RTW. There wasn't a lot of love for it, but it really helped get people a bit more comfortable there and helped out for the night zone as well.

As you can see from the reply to my above post, there will be pushback if you ask your GSTL to ask guest services to sort/fold/hang their stuff. There was from my store as well...heck...from me! But there is time...when I go into an A volume store, I see them standing around with no guests...I'm sure they have a couple of minutes to hang or fold. And if it's kept sorted from the get go and stuff is hung and folded as they go, it is incredibly easy to do 95% of the time when they get a routine down. It's a culture shift...but unless everyone can help you get it back on the floor, it can't sell..and the margins on this stuff is too high for it to be sitting around.

I'm a bit concerned that there are stores still catching up from the bogo sales. We were hurting for a while, and reshop was high, but recovery should be within a day (or two, tops!) of the chaos ending.
 
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sher

Guest
I haven't worked in two days, but I doubt they're caught up because it's an unending cycle. Last few weeks we've had two-three carts of unsorted at the fr and 1-2 super full ones at the service desk (we don't pick em up because of space constraints so they pile it on). One of our TLs has been sick for idk, 2 weeks, the former ETL sl mentioned above hasn't been in in a week because sick, and she usually helps, our fitting room has been crazy since school ended (late June round here). They try on 30 swim pieces, buy 2 of em, maybe. And I'm not even exaggerating about that thirty, then add the 12+ dresses and pairs of shorts. Again, not exaggerating. In addition, we weren't caught up before the sale started! If people liked more of the clothes once they put them on, we'd be caught up, but yea, it's not a failure on our part, I assure you, but thanks for your concern.

And our cashier call out rate is beyond what should be normal. Backup like whoa, because no non-cashier says yes unless crazy desperate when they ask us to come cashier. And they haven't. Even scheduling us fitting room attendants for the whole day in months. On the rare occasion they do, when you get there, they request that you do reshop instead. It' sad times in store [redacted]. I came back 30 min after fr left Sunday night to clean up and pulled 2 carts worth of clothes out of the fitting rooms... And it' seen 3-5 in the past between fr leaving and store closing.

Oh, and the TL who's not sick is the lazy one. I'm done. Carry on with the actual tips.
 
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sher

Guest
Maybe I rambled, but idc idc idc. I'll defend my little red and khaki gang until someone else hires me!!!
 
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Oh, we have the same issue with people trying a ton of stuff on and not taking any of it...especially those darned two pieces. And last summer, we were in the same shape you were with reshop...so I understand where you are at. It's just something that we were able to get a grip on, and I would hate to go back to being in that place, so I feel for you!
 
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sher

Guest
I think back when the fitting room rules changed and we started answering phones, they tried to get our service desk to do a deeper level of sorting, but I don't think they ever actually did it.
 
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