By David Brown
A few weeks have passed since the most hectic part of the retail year, which means it’s the perfect time for retail owners to sit down and have a good hard look at how their businesses are running.
Although ongoing performance monitoring is important, it’s also critical to dedicate a particular time of the year for setting some clear goals and asking some strong questions about where you have been and where your business is going.
This exercise is worth doing both with December in mind as well as placing the whole year in perspective. While the questions below are worded for December, retailers are advised to also ask the same questions about the previous 12 months.
Why review what is already history you may ask? If you don’t learn from history then you are destined to repeat it. If business wasn’t as good as expected, then the last thing you would want is to repeat it.
Without further adieu, here are some relevant areas within a business and the types of questions that should be asked.
- Did you spend more or less money on marketing activities compared with previous years?
- Did that reflect in more or less customer traffic?
- Where there items marketed that created high demand?
- What effect did you notice from competitors’ marketing?
- What will you do differently for the next year?
- Were there product categories that were short of product, thus resulting in lost sales?
- Was this a purchase issue or a continuity of supply issue (i.e. a buying issue or a supplier issue)?
- Were there any customer product requests that you could not satisfy or offer an alternative? Were there any issues with re-orders that potentially cost sales in December? If so, how can these be minimized?
- Were there any issues with product quality (This could have a negative impact on staff confidence with the brand/supplier)?
- Did the items you purchased specifically with December in mind, sell?
- How much aged inventory did you successfully target and sell in December?
- Were there vendors who let you down with re-orders?
- Have you made them aware of this? What will you do to stop this being repeated?
- Were there any vendors that had sales that exceeded your expectations?
- What do you plan to do about this?
- Were there vendors that you had Memo product from through December? How did this perform?
- Have you returned the balance and paid for what you sold?
- Were you happy with the staff’s performance through December?
- Are there any members that need recognition for exceptional performance?
- Are there any that need re-focusing because of poor performance?
- Did you give team members enough direction and motivation? If not, what is your
- plan to change that?
- Were there team members whose performance suffered because of the longer hours (Tired staff are not as sharp or as keen)?
- Could you have allocated hours better?
- Did you have your best people working during peak times?
- Could they have benefited from some ‘December’ based training?
These questions have not been developed as a complete or exhaustive list but should rather act as a catalyst for jewelers to ask better questions regarding themselves and their businesses.
Moving Onwards and Upwards
Now it’s time to look forward. This means setting some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and asking how these numbers ideally should look – again both for the year ahead and for the next December trading period.
Sales, Gross Profit and Net Profit
- Quote: “Most people aim at nothing at hit it with remarkable accuracy.”
- What are your sales, gross profit and net profit targets for next December and also the coming twelve months? A clear goal will increase the chances of hitting targets, which is the most important goal of all.
- Do you have too much, too little or just enough stock?
- What do you need to achieve your sales goals?
- If you have debt – both personal and business – what targets are in place for reducing it?
- Are these targets broken down monthly so you know how much you want to see your debt dropping throughout the year?
- What hours do you plan to work this year?
- Will you do more or less?
- What would be your ideal workload in the coming 12 months?
For retailers who are looking for even more guidance on how to make positive changes in the year ahead, contact …
Finish by following this formula:
Four key areas that business owners should address:
- What should you do more? This involves looking at what worked well – either by careful planning or sheer good fortune – and whether these processes can be expanded.
- What should you do less? Think about the biggest frustrations over the past trading year and how you can have less of them. Delegation is at the forefront here.
- What should you start doing? Don’t procrastinate; make changes now!
- What should you stop doing? Are there product lines that are no longer profitable or staff members who are no longer an asset to the business? Are there activities/tasks that now appear pointless?
If you want the next Holiday season and 2016 to be different from previous years then plan ahead now. It’s never too late to make New Year resolutions.