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Adding to a Strong Sales Department
If you are a retailer that has computerized your store, one of the advantages is your being able to accumulate a sizeable amount of information, and being able to generate many informative reports. This, however, is also one of the disadvantages of having the computer system. There are so many reports available, along with those automatically printed each month, that frequently the valuable information can get lost in the shuffle.
One of the best judgments you can make in regards to your personal time management is to review the reports that you are generating. If you are not using a report to verify figures, or to make decisions, then you may want to consider deleting that report from those being created. And what about the reports you are using, or that you could use? Perhaps, you can use some of the information in growing your business.
Many progressive retailers make a point to attend a trade show. During the show these retailers, in addition to the reports and manufacturer's order forms they have brought with them, are visiting with other retailers and wandering the aisles looking for the proverbial "Beanie Babies" of the shooting sports industry.
To maximize your attendance at a show, you may want to consider creating a group of retailers from different parts of the country to get together each day, either before or after the show, to compare notes and opportunities that you have found while wandering the aisles or attending the seminars. This "think tank" would then become many extra sets of eyes and ears for you at the show. The show will be a successful event for you because of the retailers, vendors, products, or services you have now found at it.
Probably, there is also a future success story for you to be found in the reports your computer is now generating. In addition to this "hidden information" on your reports, there are factors and trends within your store that can lead you to additional sales.
Starting with the information that your computer generates for you, the sales by department and fine-line report would be one of the best areas to examine.
This report should list for you the sales, month and year to date, for each of the categories that you have in your store. The four factors that should stand out to you would be the fine lines that have shown the greatest increase in actual dollar sales over the last year, the fine lines with the largest margin, the fine lines with the fastest turn in merchandise, and the fine lines that have shown the largest margin increase in the last year.
Each of these signs indicate probable healthy growth that would merit additional research for widening the product selection, product depth, and perhaps the addition of related fine lines In regards to any business that is looking for opportunities for growth, this would probably be one of the financially safest areas in which to gamble.
The second area that you should examine is the competition to determine which areas your competition is strong in. The reasoning for this is to make sure any area in which you decide to expand should not be an area in which the competition, whether it is another independent retailer or a chain store, is already strong.
In our example, consider a retailer that has a selection that, overall, is his strongest sales department. Looking at the competition, we find that most of the box stores and discount stores also have a smaller selection of the same products. Closer examination of the fine lines within the department indicates that some of the best margins are with the more expensive items. And again looking at the competition, we find that they are offering a limited selection, more inexpensive items, and that they each carry many of the same lines as each other.
Here is the opportunity to carry unique product lines or products the competition does not stock. You can demonstrate to your customer that you are priced right, by carrying a small selection of the same rifles the chain store does. Pricing these items with little to no margin to match the price of the chain store will verify to your customers that you are priced correctly on all of the items you sell.
The second point that we are looking for, are areas which have a substantial turn. Looking at our example dealer, we find other items have the highest turn. While the competition offers many of the same products, he is pleased with the quick turn of these products in his store.
One of the opportunities that we would see in this scenario would be to expand the selection to include several unique choices in regards to sizes or colors. Adding these items, we will probably find we can again increase our margins.
Start this exercise by looking at the reports from your computer, and then begin to look for these opportunities. You will not only grow the sales in your store, but you will find many ideas to offer services to your customers that the competition just can't match.
This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.