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Management, Business












The busiest period of the year is upon us, and as overwhelming as it can be, it is also the most profitable time of the year – and you must be prepared. | Source: Freepik
The busiest period of the year is upon us, and as overwhelming as it can be, it is also the most profitable time of the year – and you must be prepared. | Source: Freepik

December is nearly here – are you ready?

Are you ready to make the most of the busiest stretch? DAVID BROWN encourages you to be well-prepared for the holiday trading period.

The busiest period of the year is upon us, and as overwhelming as it can be, it is also the most profitable time of the year – and you must be prepared.

You may have hit a wall as you juggle cash flow while the new product starts arriving.

Quality inventory control isn’t just about clearing space in the display cabinets; it’s about finding room in the bank account to make the required payments.

With that in mind, the start for your December preparation is to actively clear the old items that are not meeting your customer's needs.

These old favourites are getting in the way and must be moved on!

Begin by setting a clear goal. How much money do you need to get back into your bank account to achieve the cash flow you need ahead of time?

What would make you comfortably afford the product you need to sell over December?

Identify your targets. To realise this cash, which items need to be moved on to top the bank account up again?

Depending on how aggressive you plan to be on pricing, the amount of inventory that has to go will vary.

If you’re still returning a profit on these items at a reduced price, you may not need as many sales to achieve the desired result.

If you cut them more ruthlessly, these products will sell quicker while realising less of their original retail price, so more of them will need to be sold.

Of course, some targeted products won’t sell well.

Assume you will need to move at least 50 per cent more inventory items than you need to allow for this.

"Make these products look presentable. Are the tickets tattered? Have they been given a proper clean recently? If not, this may be half of the reason they haven’t been sold yet."

These items have sat on your shelves for a while, and their current retail price may not reflect the market value or even the cost of their materials.

Repricing these products to current retail prices will allow you to reassess them better.

Decreasing prices may help move these products.

Increasing prices may give you a more accurate start from which to discount them.

Either way, you’re starting from a more accurate assessment point.

Make these products look presentable. Are the tickets tattered? Have they been given a proper clean recently?

If not, this may be half of the reason they haven’t been sold yet. A quick polish and re-label may make a surprising amount of difference.

Offer your staff some incentives! Why not offer bonuses to staff for moving the older jewellery?

A discount of $100 on a $1,000 item may not enthuse the customer; however, the promise of $100 to any staff member who sells it at a total price may get a motivated response!

Discounting is still an option. If you’re still left with a product you are tired of looking at, give the customer a good reason to take it off your hands.

Sometimes, you need to cut your losses on these items.

If a customer is looking for a deal on a new piece you have, then why not offer the item at a total price with a sweetener on one of your older items thrown in?

A new stock ring offered at a total price with a free pair of old earrings might get the deal across the line.

Follow up on the items you have chosen to clear.

This is not a set-and-forget plan! You will need to review your progress regularly.

Give these items their own ID tag in your reporting so you can quickly view what has moved and what you have remaining.

Talk to staff regularly about these targeted products. Remind everyone, using the information from the reports, which pieces you still need to sell as a priority.

Managing older inventory is always a work in progress, but it can be essential at this time of year when you need to start improving that pre-December cash flow.

An active strategy will work far more effectively in this regard – do not leave it to chance.

Managing your staff for victory
"While business measures in profit and sports teams measure in score lines, the important thing is that a measurement of performance is taking place, and an outcome is noted."

I've often drawn comparisons between running a business and coaching a sports team.

While business measures in profit and sports teams measure in score lines, the important thing is that a measurement of performance is taking place, and an outcome is noted.

Customers and fans must be kept happy, especially for those who may be willing to shop elsewhere – not all fans are committed for life!

Both must rely on their staff or personnel to achieve their desired results.

Relating a business situation to a sporting scenario resonates with owners.

They often can’t see the point of something that relates to their business until it is portrayed in a language that they can understand as sports fans.

As such, I’ve identified several comparisons from the sporting world that illustrate the best areas to work on with your staff during the year's busiest period.

  • Set clear expectations: Wingers score tries; strikers kick goals, and batters find boundaries.

Sales staff need their targets too! Everyone benefits when the objectives are concise and easy to understand.

Define the expectations for each employee's role, including sales targets, customer service standards, and job duties.

Let them know what you expect from them and provide the necessary resources and training to help them meet these targets.

This should be a routine discussion with your staff so that they understand that these targets are not a 'wish' - they are your expectation.

  • Provide regular feedback: Every athlete gets pointers from the coach, and you need to give regular feedback to your employees on their performance constructively.

Praise employees who are doing well and guide those who could do better.

Identify areas where they can improve and provide specific actions to improve themselves.

  • Encourage teamwork: Find a sports team where one person does everything, and you'll see a team that won't win.

Retail is a fast-paced industry, and workloads can be overwhelming. Encouraging teamwork can make a big difference.

Foster a culture of collaboration, where employees are willing to help each other during high-volume periods.

As the old saying goes: 'many hands make light work.'

  • Invest in training: A successful sports team puts more time into training than playing.

This isn't possible in retail; however, providing continuous employee training is critical in any industry, especially in a retail environment.

Invest in ongoing training for your staff to keep up with the latest trends, technology, and customer service techniques.

  • Celebrate successes: Your team need their victories and trophy moments too!

Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to stay with a business long-term. After all, time flies when you’re having fun.

Celebrate employee successes, reward your team for reaching sales targets, and acknowledge their hard work.

This creates a positive work environment and motivates your employees to achieve more.

  • Build relationships: On-field results are best when the players know and trust each other well.

Getting to know your employees and having them know each other personally can also help create a positive work environment.

Engage in casual conversation, take an interest in their hobbies, and ask them about their families. Building positive relationships with employees can help create a sense of community and a better dynamic in the workplace.

  • Lead by example: After a poor start to the season culminating in a 0-4 loss, the new Manchester United manager, Eric Ten Hag, dragged the entire team out for a punishing early morning run the next day.

Ten Hag didn’t just punish the team and put himself through the run, earning massive respect from a squad of stars who had been bickering like prima donnas.

Needless to say, they turned their season around. Being a good manager is about setting the right example.

Lead by example, be present, and provide guidance when needed.

Show your team what is required to be a successful retail employee by being prepared to do it yourself.

More reading:
How to improve and create great retail displays
Repairing our sales win rates
Quality customer service always beats out pricing
How do you treat your customers after they leave?
Finding a way to deliver something different

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Brown

Contributor • Retail Edge Consultants


David Brown is co-founder and business mentor with Retail Edge Consultants. Learn more: retailedgeconsultants.com

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