If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Being a retailer, you have probably experienced it another thousand times over.
As retailers, what do we need to do to get tough? Certainly not join in with the rest of the world that seems to be predicting the doomsday of retailing. Keeping company morale up is vital to the success of your business and weathering this storm. Make sure that your employees know that no matter how tough things get or what they might hear, never share that information with customers.
Over the last several months, many of our customers have asked how business has been. After all, they watch the same newscasts as the rest of us. Fortunately, although sales slowed after the holiday season, we have been able to say that we have been busy — which seems to make potential clients want to do business with us.
We believe that taking an overall look at our store and business practices is the logical place to start. Anything that we could do to make our business stand apart from the competition was a must, which for us meant changing the standard merchandise in some way so that became uniquely our own design. From Christmas decor right down to our gourmet food line, we take advantage of private labeling and in-house designing so that our merchandise stands above what other area stores are selling.
The beginning of the year is a good time to fine-tune every aspect of any business. There is something that can be done each day toward the goal of making your business practically recession-proof. Focus on providing exceptional customer service, drafting marketing campaigns and paying close attention to accounting practices.
We train our employees to care for our “guests” as if they were entertaining them in their own home. It might seem elementary, but always having something refreshing or warm to drink is a priority. Serving a product that we sell is a conversation starter and keeps the guests coming back for more. A definite win-win!
We have found that our e-mail campaign is the most effective and least expensive means of advertisement. In this technological age, there are very few people that don’t use some type of electronic mail. Tracking customer information is basic, but vital, and can be easily done on a good point of sale system. When our guests come into our store, our staff has been trained to ask for and input their personal information, allowing further contact for marketing purposes.
There are several innovative programs that can be used to prepare e-mails in advance and schedule each to go out at a specific date and time. We can tell, almost to the minute, when our clients receive our e-mails. This is the first step to a successful marketing campaign.
Paying attention to reports from our POS system has proved to be successful in both getting the tired inventory out the door and knowing what to buy (or not) when going to market.
A good inventory report will let you know what your best sellers have been in the past and which categories to anticipate buying for in the future. Vendors that produce the highest margin on a consistent basis are highlighted, as well as those companies whose products are still sitting on your shelves. Using these reports can save you lots of headaches and you’ll be on the way to establishing better accounting practices.
|Pamela Reeves is president and special events coordinator of Ambiance Interiors & Gifts Inc. of Suwanee, Ga. She is a sought after speaker and writer for Life By Design Women’s Conferences, Americasmart Retail University, Crown Financial Stewardship, and the City of Suwanee Design & Master. This article first appeared in Home Accents Today and is reprinted with permission.
This article was first published in Home Accents Today and is reprinted with permission.