“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” While the expression goes back to the 1400’s, you can count on it that the originator did not own a store. There is just too much to do for you to get to bed early each night. Here are 10 tasks you can take for a profitable retail business year:
Task number one: One of the best investments we can suggest is that of a staff education program. From personal experience we can assure you this works. It starts with a biweekly staff meeting that is one hour long, held before or after hours. All of your employees — and we do mean all — are required to attend and participate.
Task number two: Few owners are in their store for every hour that the store is open. This means that at some point, someone has the key to the store and you are trusting them. Having a manager work full time, but then making all the decisions yourself, is letting that manager work part time while being paid for full time.
Task number three: Educate your staff on how your business functions financially. Create financial statements for your staff to see. These numbers should be representative of your business without giving away personal information, such as how much you pay yourself.
Task number four: Implement semi-annual job reviews. Of course, to have job reviews you need to have job descriptions. We found that having the staff write their own job descriptions gave us better results than job descriptions we could have bought with some software.
Task number five: Create a customer survey to ask customers why they do business with you, where else they shop, what they would like to see in your store, and any other point of curiosity you might have. Make it personalized, and don’t use online survey tools.
Task number six: Create a 12-month advertising plan. Develop a personalized system so that you contact customers when new merchandise arrives, or you are hosting events in your shop. It is much easier to sell to an existing customer than to find a new one through the media.
Task number seven: Become adept at understanding the financial aspect of your business. You can only manage and improve on what you understand. Far too many retailers leave financial matters to their accountant to take care of.
Task number eight: As you learn how financials work, you will want to develop budgets for every aspect of your store. Establish budgets for your purchasing of inventory, and your profit and loss statement.
Task number nine: Profit is not cash on hand! Imagine being able to see today each of the next twelve financial sheets; this is what a cash flow chart will give you. You will see the opportunities and challenges of business well in advance.
Task number ten: A very important task. Number ten is taking care of yourself. To make all of this happen, you have to be at your best, personally. Improving yourself can start with getting out of the store and looking at other stores. Some of the best ideas in retailing come from looking at other businesses.
Read business management books: Paco Underhill and his series of books, and Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.” Books are great for recharging your business and personal batteries.
It’s our top ten tasks — make them your best ten efforts.
Tom Shay is a lifelong small-business owner and manager. He has authored 12 books on small business management; a college textbook on small business financial management and co-authored a book on retailer/vendor relations. Read his recent piece, How Alcohol Retail Adapts with the Pandemic.