Article of the Month
The article for September is written from the perspective of someone working in the office supply industry. It does however apply to everyone. I first mention some of the horrible customer service experiences that everyone has surely had.
As I frequently say in classes, 'Why don't people take a bad experience they have and compare it to their own business? We need to take every experience and see how a similar situation plays out in our own business. Only by constantly working to improve will it actually happen.'
The rest of the article talks about some techniques that can be implemented in any business to make the hiring process be a bit more accurate.
Click on Article of the Month to read this article.
Book of the Month
Results: Keeping What's Good, Fix What's Wrong and Unlock Great Performance by Gary L. Neilson and Bruce A. Pasternack
Think about the many opportunities you have to do business with another business. Consider those businesses that seem to always get it right when it comes to customer service, as well as those businesses where you never have great customer service.
Secondly, look at the business that during a tough economy still manage to grow their sales. And think about those that are struggling in this economy, if they are continuing to exist at all.
There is something going on in the background that you need to know for your business. This book not only tells you about it, it provides you with a way to learn what type of business you actually own.
The authors have described seven categories of business and this book will help you determine which of the seven you are.
My expectation is that if you know which one you are and which one you want to be, you will see the necessary path to get from one to the other.
Click on Book Referral to see the list of small business books we have found that may be helpful to your business.
Hey, we are blogging, tweeting, facebooking and invite your participation.
Visit our e-ret@iler conversations, find the category of interest and post your comments, questions or best practices. You may also go directly to one of our categories by clicking on one of the links below.
Financial ManagementGeneral DiscussionMerchandising
And you can follow my daily posts on Twitter and Facebook.
P.O. Box 1577
St. Petersburg, FL
(727) 464-2182 Voice
(727) 898-3179 Fax
Send Tom an e-mail:
Send our staff an e-mail:
Is this an annoyance or people that really want to do business with you?
Stuart, Florida is on the other side of the state and further south on the Atlantic coast, so I am definitely removed from the situation. Like many communities, it is smaller and there is a larger community nearby, Palm Beach. Customers have the option of doing business locally or driving to the 'big city' to spend their dollars.
This got my attention because it is on Facebook. The person may simply be one of those 'agitators' that every community seems to have. I do not know and therefore am not qualified to speak to that point.
However, as you read this post I copied from a Facebook page that was created to promote their idea, I invite you to think about this. Here are people in a community that are trying to tell the businesses several things. I see it as:
* I want to spend my money locally.
* I want to spend my money in your business.
* I am willing to make a concerted effort to find other people who feel the way I do.
I hope the business owners in my community will hear of this and make changes so that I can stay away from the 'big city'
The alternative to an effort such as this Facebook page, is to simply take the dollars and go elsewhere.
When I have asked business owners about making changes, too frequently the answer is, 'We can't seem to get that idea to work with the other businesses in our community'.
You don't need to get all of the businesses together. Do it for your business; do it for your customers. Some businesses will eventually see the advantage of changing. Others will not. We refer to those that never change as being 'CAVE' people. CAVE is an acronym for Citizens Against Virtually Everything.
Let me invite you to read a part of what I took from their Facebook page. If I were a business owner in Stuart, Florida I would be thankful that my potential customers have taken the time to tell me what they want.
If the customers don't tell you what they want, will the business owners figure it out on their own? Or will they simply complain about customers that do not shop locally?
The Facebook page, with the typos corrected, said:
'I have a question for everyone, would you like it if Downtown Stuart shops stayed open until late, say 12 on week ends? If they did do you think you would shop in them that late?'
'Now before you answer that, think about how nice it would be to have a nice dinner at Gusto's, then walk to Earthtones check out all their cool merchandise. You could then head on over to Social Sparklers to make the lady smile, (now that I think about, it the men too :) stopping at all the cool shops along the way and ending the night at Crush Wine Bar or Hoffman's for a do it yourself sundae???'
'I think that would be great and hopefully bring more money to Downtown Stuart. What are your thoughts and can it even be done? (I guess I should have asked that first. lol :)'
'A few of the 31 comments received:'
'My husband and I have often said we don't understand why so many of the shops are closed so early and some not opened on Sunday. Friday and Saturday nights, especially the foot traffic, is kickin' down town.'
'I honestly don't know if the need to be opened till 12, but 9 or 10 would not be bad.... Many people do not have to opportunity to get down town when a lot of these stores are opened. I often hear window shoppers say things like "too bad they are not opened". Maybe weekends hours should be 12pm till 10 pm? Something to consider!'
'For sure. I always thought it unusual for them to close so early.'
'It is a synergistic thing...the more stores that stay open, the more people that come downtown....the more people...the more interest for the stores and restaurants to be open. We opened on Sunday night for that reason and hope it will catch on. We are open til 10 and would open later if there is the interest ...Osceola Street Cafe.'
'I have always thought that Osceola was a lot like Lincoln Road on Miami Beach which opens later in the morning and does stay open later in the evening. It's a wonderful walk around and the restaurants would increase their attendance. And just a hint of outside music would add the atmosphere needed.'
'Think it's a brilliant plan!!'
'Bring some much needed energy ... panache and people!!'
'We don't head downtown with out of town company because everything is closed. It would be awesome if it was an option!'
'If the city gave artists permission to set up on the weekends, there would be more of a reason for the shops to open later. Set it up like Pier 60 in Clearwater.. 5x10 space, no tents, umbrellas only and a lottery system, It would be profitable for everyone.'
'I don't get to Stuart very often even though I have a place there. I was surprised when I went downtown and there was very little open on a Sunday.'
'So in conclusion we were thinking that if those who work in downtown Stuart knew, "if they build it, we will come", then maybe we can make downtown the place where we want to hang out and bring our visiting friends and family.'
'If you believe this too, then join our event. If you don't think that you would hang out downtown, even if they offered something more then please decline our event invitation. Stay tuned for more details!!! Please share this and invite all your friends, the more support we have the more likely we are to make a change.'
You do not have to live in Stuart, Florida for this to be the story in your community, or the story about your business. If you have ever heard anything to the effect of these comments, these are strong hints of customers wanting to do business with you. It does not require a change from everyone; just one - you.
Linda Cahan joined Bill Kendy and I for the August e-ret@iler conversation conference call. Our discussion point was visual merchandising. So you may have thought we talked about window displays and building a display somewhere inside a store. You will want to listen to the conference call recording to hear Linda's observations about the frequency of changing displays.
Yes, we did talk a lot about those aspects of business but we also talked about how the appearance of an individual is a form of visual merchandising. This was applied to those within a business as well as those who are calling on customers at the customer's business or home.
The discussion included comments about the visual aspect of a website, a blog, and the social media.
We got a lot covered in an hour. If you weren't able to join us for the live session, you can visit the Profits Plus website to listen to the recording, or download the recording of the call.
September e-retailer conversation conference call
8pm eastern, Thursday, September 13, 2012
Robbie Brown is going to join Bill Kendy and I for the September e-ret@iler conversation conference call. Allow me to share what I know about Robbie. I have never met him in person or even heard him speak at a trade show or conference. My first experience with Robbie was reading his articles in a trade magazine. His information was correct, on target and definitely lacking in 'fluff' that I too often see in articles.
As I read trade magazines today, I like what Robbie has to say more than what I read from anyone else. He knows how to run a business. When I share his profile with you in the announcements in September I am sure you will also be impressed by the individual who has given his time to be with us for this call. Let me suggest you schedule this now as Robbie is one you will definitely not want to miss visiting with.
You will receive an email announcement about four days before the September conference call, and again on the morning of the call.
Got questions for Robbie? Send them to me now and I will be sure we have them for Robbie during the call.
|Internet Tip of The Month
Gross margin return on inventory (GMROI)
Experience has shown that people believe there are only three ways of making more money.
The first is to eliminate expenses. In our industry we can first observe this as we see businesses that have cut to a bare bones staff. This is often to the detriment of the business as it almost becomes 'self-service', or for those online businesses providing little or no customer service online or by phone.
The second is to increase sales. Easily said; difficult to achieve. And a challenge with increasing sales is that it frequently requires more inventory or spending dollars on advertising.
The third is to increase margins by either raising prices or changing vendors. The 'changing vendors' is a component that has always amazed me with small business owners.
We don't like it when a customer tells us they can buy something we have somewhere else for a lower price. But we somehow feel the need to always be doing the same thing for our business. How is it that it is OK for us to do it but not our customers?
Let's look at making more money by being smarter at how we operate our business. The calculation is called 'gross margin return on inventory' and it a factor about your business that you need to know as a way to help you make more money.
There is good news and bad news with regard to determining this number for your business. The bad news first; it is a complicated number. But by understanding what factors are used for this calculation, you should also understand how improving any of the numbers in the calculation will help you make more money.
The good news is that the free calculator on the Profits Plus website will do all the calculating for you. Just take the information from your financial statements to plug them in.
You need your last 12 balance sheets. Take the inventory on hand from each of those 12 sheets, add them together and divide by 12. The resulting number is your average inventory on hand.
The next factor we need is the total sales for the last 12 months. Divide the total sales by the average on hand and the resulting number is your 'sales to inventory' ratio. We will need that number as we continue toward the GMROI.
Now look at your maintained gross margin for that same 12 month period. Multiply that number by the sales to inventory ratio. The resulting answer is your GMROI.
So, how do we make more money? We are looking at a combination of how much inventory it takes to produce your sales and how much of a margin you can get. As you enter your numbers on the Profits Plus website, try changing them to observe what the new resulting number is.
If your new number causes the GMROI to increase, then that should give you some idea of how making that change in your business can improve your bottom line.
Making more money should be a factor of your working smarter; not working more hours.
Gross Margin Return on Inventory Calculator
| The Power Promoting Idea of the Month
Think about the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. Some people make a point to wear something green; others make a point to visit a party store and get a hat or one of those buttons that say something like, "Kiss me, I'm Irish".
The idea of celebrating the day is easy for those of us having a last name that leads you to think we are of Irish heritage. But for those whose last name has absolutely no Irish connection it is a bit of a challenge.
Often when you ask someone about their connection, their response is something to the effect of, "I'm half-Irish". Which leads us to the Power Promoting Idea for the month of September.
Look at September 17 on your calendar. It is six months from March 17. That is half way to, or from, St. Patrick's Day. Surely, for that large number of people that claim to be 'half Irish' on St. Patrick's Day, this is their day.
You can create a very unique promotion, celebration or sale to celebrate the 'half-Irish Day'. Perhaps, you have a special price on anything that is green or has green on it. Perhaps your prices can end in seventeen for that one day.
My father did a promotion where he rented a silver leprechaun suit and stood at the front door of the business with one hundred $1 bills in his hand. He gave one to every customer as they entered the store along with a word of thanks for their having chosen our store to visit.
It is a unique idea and you should let your creative ideas run wild as you celebrate 'half-Irish' day, September 17.
You can find more ideas like this in our promotions books. You can order your copy by clicking on the link below; each book is only $9.95 plus postage.
Profits Plus Resource Center