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  e-ret@iler newsletter
October 2010
Volume 11 Issue 11
Profits_Plus Solutions
Tom Shay Photo
Article of the Month

Repairing all Makes and Brands
Tom Shay

Having just returned from both the Canadian and US bicycle shows, this article - while written for another industry - is very appropriate.

The article makes a strong argument for why your business should make a point to assist customers regardless of what they purchased and where they purchased it.

After all, if you do not offer to assist the customer that did business elsewhere, you are very unlikely to get their business in the future.

Click on Article of the Month to read this article.

Book of the Month

Firms of Endearment
by Rajendra S. Sisodia
David B. Wolfe and
Jagdish N. Sheth

I haven't read this book yet, but one of the e-retailer readers called to suggest it and said reading it got them charged up to work in their business. Looking at book reviews, I saw several points that impressed me with a business being a firm of endearment.

Those points were:
*Aligning the interests of everyone - owners, employees and customers
*Above average employee education
*Empower employees to satisfy customers
*Hire employees who are passionate about the purpose of the business
*Honoring the spirit as well as the letter of the rules
*Pays attention to their corporate culture instead of competitive advantage
*Lower than average marketing expense

Just reading these components tells me this is a good book for you to read.

We have more books to suggest for your reading. Click on Book Referral to visit this page on our site.

e-ret@iler Conversations


We have a lot of new information on the e-ret@iler conversations blog. We invite you to add your comments, ideas, and observations.

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.

  1. Advertising
  2. Employee Issues
  3. Financial Management
  4. General Discussion
  5. Merchandising
  6. Sales Techniques
  7. Vendor Issues

And you can follow my daily posts on Twitter at ftomshay

Contact Us

Profits Plus
P.O. Box 1577
St. Petersburg, FL
33731 USA
(727) 464-2182 Voice
(727) 898-3179 Fax

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Business Advisory

It is 'who' that matters; not 'what'

There was an article in the September 27 issue of Business Week which discussed textbooks for college students and the new ways students can get books. The article mentions rentals, PDF downloads, and several other options.

As I read the article I begin to think about those of you who read this newsletter and are in the bookstore business; specifically those in the college bookstore setting. When I have visited with their associations I have had many of you tell me what a large percentage of your business comes from text books and how the other products (clothing, notebooks, and all the other accessories a student needs) are the small portion of your business.

The same goes for the neighborhood pharmacist. I hear from them that what is sold in the front of their business (gifts and 'over the counter' medications) may only be five to ten percent of the total sales in the pharmacy.

The bookstore is already seeing the challenge of their main product being changed. The pharmacist is going to have to guess as to what is going to change by prescription drugs in the coming years.

My point? My concern? One concern is a business that has that many 'eggs in one basket'. And it is a basket that you cannot control. My point is that we are dealing with customers, and laws, that are changing. These changes are out of your control. Even for businesses other than these two examples, there are aspects of business that are going to change for every type of small business.

So that you can control the destiny of your business, let me suggest looking at the 'picture' of your customer and your business in a different frame. When we think of our business we often think of 'what' we sell. We allow that thought process to frame what it is that we do and sell.

What if you changed the frame to focus on 'who' you sell to? For the college bookstore, focusing on the student means we are going to sell to the student what the student needs and wants. (Just ask their parents, they have plenty of both). If we insist on being a bookstore, what happens when the information the student needs is available in something other than a book?

Students are not going to go away; their wanting and needing to spend money is not going away. But a properly focused business is going to find themselves shifting to the current, and future needs of the student.

The same is true for the pharmacist. Prescription medication may continue to have changes with regard to insurance plans and what the pharmacist is paid. But the front end aspect of the business is 'fair game' to whatever the business owner wants to sell.

Continue to sell the 'what' and you may find yourself being affected by how the world dictates. Sell to 'who' and your business will morph as necessary to address the needs and wants of a customer as well as give you a reason to still be in business.


The September conference call dealt with financials and was a review of many of the questions I have received over the last couple of months from e-retailer newsletter readers. If you missed the call when it was live on September 28, you can visit the link below to download it or listen to it through your computer.

E-retailer conversations

The October e-retailer conference call is not yet set. The reason for this hesitation is our daughter and my mother both have birthdays during the week of the conference call and I have to wait for the family to decide if we are having any parties or going out to dinner.

Our topic for October is going to be the Profits Plus website and many of the calculators I have created for your free usage over the past decade. I will be preparing a list of the calculators I want to cover, and will welcome your suggestions for specific calculators to be discussed. Perhaps there is a calculator you are trying to use but are having a challenge with; there may even be suggestions from participants for new calculators.

Thanks to a participant from Canada, we found that the conference call number did not work for them for the September call. Therefore, we have a new number for the conference call that I have been assured will work for anyone, anywhere in the world. The new number is 805-360-1000.

You will get an invitation about 6 days before the conference call and again on the morning of the call. They are always free; all you have to do is call in.

Internet Tip of The Month

Gross margin discounting calculator

The gross margin discounting calculator is an idea I got from knowing some buyers within some of the chain stores. The idea of this calculator is that as a buyer you should know how much you are going to make from a purchase before the merchandise even gets to your store.

Let me use clothing as an example. A store is buying merchandise for the spring season. There are multiple types of garments, such as tops and bottoms, in this purchase. The buyer knows that as they begin to sell this merchandise not every customer is going to take a top and bottom; the store is assured of having miscellaneous colors and sizes as the season continues.

As this happens, the buyer is going to take markdowns on the price of the merchandise to get rid of it. These markdowns are established before the merchandise even arrives at the store with markdowns being established by either a certain date being passed, or a specific dollar amount of inventory being sold. When either of these points are passed, there is an additional markdown taken. The free calculator allows you to establish four of these points.

As you determine how much the markdown is going to be, the calculator will be able to tell you what your maintained margin is going to be for the overall purchase.

Buyers in chain stores use this tool; why shouldn't you have it as well?

Gross margin discounting calculator

The Power Promoting Idea of the Month
'Tis the season

Have you ever observed the Christmas tree lots that show up in communities around the middle of November? Some of them have been in the same location for many years while others change their location because the one they had last year is not available, too expensive, or just did not produce the sales they anticipated.

As these lots are making their decisions to locate for this holiday season, you could bring that business, and all of their customers to your parking lot. One of the ways you can locate these businesses is by checking with your community government department which handles licensing. This could give you the appropriate contact information.

Why bother to do this? Let me tell you sometime about the tree lot I visited that sells $150,000 (some 2000+ trees). Would you like to have those people come by your business?

In the blue power promoting book, the first promotional book, this is idea #77.

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


So, what can you celebrate and promote in November? Here is what Melissa has found for you:

All of November:
Family story month - A reason to be collecting and recording stories of your family. Scrapbooking stores, this could be a great event for you.

November 1 - Author's day. This could work for bookstores. How about any other type of store finding books about what you sell? You will likely find local authors by contacting your public library.

November 2 - Dakota Day - North Dakota and South Dakota became states in 1889.

November 4 - Use your common sense day - Not sure how to promote this one but it sure is necessary.

November 7 - Daylight saving ends - How about an early morning or late evening promotion?

November 8 - Anniversary of the first release of Microsoft Windows. You mean you don't miss MS-DOS?

November 11 - US Veterans Day - Proudly display the red, white and blue.

November 14 - Loosten Up, Lighten Up Day - This could be a fun promotion.

November 19-25 - Farm and City Week - Highlighting the interdependence of rural and urban residences

November 20 - Family Volunteer Day - Encourage families to become involved in community associations

November 26 - Black Friday - So nicknamed because some say it is when a retailer starts to make money each year. In the US it is often the busiest shopping day of the year. How about a promotion that starts on the 22nd so that you beat the mass merchants to the punch?

November 29 - Cyber Monday - Biggest shopping day on the Internet. Can you help customers to see the advantage of shopping with a local store as compared to an Internet store?

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Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.
PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179