Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sales Planning; a profit enhancing MUST for your small business

Being a retailer means a life full of planning--- planning for the products you are going to carry, planning the marketing programs you are going to run— planning the store hours and staffing, but do you plan for the biggest thing of all???

What type of sales planning do you do for your store? Do you have a sales plan that everyone in the store knows about and is geared up to achieve?

If you do not plan, the question begs, WHY DO YOU NOT PLAN for your store?

In today’s market, there are sophisticated sales planning tools catering to retailers of every size, shape and product category. While these high tech systems can be expensive, the paybacks that retailers see more than cover the cost of the software. The slightest shift to change a sales plan based on actual results can lead to millions of dollars in inventory savings and staffing savings.

Many large retailers today know that a lack of planning can cost much more than just lost profits—it can lead to a lack of competitive advantage and a loss of market share.

Today’s independent retailers are slower to understand this same phenomenon. The results are proven by turnover statistics and increased profits alike---small independent retailers can achieve the same type of rewards- with just as big a percentage of savings to the bottom line by starting with a much smaller and simpler planning process.

The key is to get started and to put down in some way- a plan by day, by month, and total it to a year plan for the store—

So why plan? Whether you are a big store with a planning system, or a small store with a piece of column filled paper, by planning the sales you wish to achieve, you will do the following:

1. Allow for you, as a business owner, to sit back and review the strategic plans and goals for your store. This will have both short term and long term positive effects.
2. Set up a system built to achieve your monthly expenses and cash flow requirements.
3. Create an ongoing business tool that can be used to help effectively plan inventory levels for the store on monthly basis.
4. Set up an ongoing communication tool for your sales associates to understand the store sales goals and create a sense of team responsibility to achieve the results
5. Set up an objective process for employees to be reviewed and evaluated

The list above is by no means complete, but it gives you an idea of some of the benefits you can expect to see with regular sales planning--- Whatever you do, and whatever system you use to start the process- START NOW-- it can and will have profit saving improvements for your business.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Small Business Success is elusive at Best- what to do?

Small Businesses Have More Challenges Than Ever To Succeed.

The facts are clear:

Fact 1: The Retail Marketplace is crowded- there are more places for consumers to find goods and services than ever before. Big Box Stores, the internet, there are more choices than ever before and this is leading to a generation of shoppers that has little or no store loyalty.

Fact 2: Consumers are bombarded with messaging. The reach of marketing today extends well beyond the traditional newspaper ads or radio spots that many independent retailers succeed on for years. Internet advertising, outdoor advertising, even cell phones are places where consumers now receive information about goods and services they might be buying

Fact 3: TIME matters to customers- Gone are the lazy strolls down main streets across America that led to customers walking in your front door and making an impulse purchase. Purpose driven shopping trips rule the day today and it is harder than ever for merchants of all size and shape to get customers into their front doors without any solicitation to get them there!

Fact 4: Competition is fierce. The growth of the big box retailer as well as the internet only merchant is carving a piece out of the independent retailer’s market share today. With online purchases expected to grow at double digits over the next 5 years, and big box retailers entering the marketplace from around the world, this trend are only going to continue.

Success today requires retailers to deliver an “experience” to their customers. Retailers of all size must “move from a single transaction mindset to establishing ongoing relationships” with their customers. That means retailers must PLAN to attract new customers, they must effectively PLAN for ongoing marketing campaigns and sales programs, and they must PLAN to utilize technology to attract new customers and to retain current customers all the while delivering a personal customize interaction to any customer the store may have.

In effect, retailers today must actively and continuously plan to garner a larger “share of wallet” from every customer they have. Another way to look at this new paradigm shift in the world of retail today is to suggest that “retailers must shift from what moves product to what moves people”

So just how do you move people to purchase in today’s retail environment? That is the question that requires time, energy, research and a well executed response from independent retailers everywhere. Ask for help from a professional if you need to, but DON'T ignore the signs-
Assume that consumers will continue to change--- success today requires you interpret these changes and implement them accordingly for your business!