With this ring, I thee wed
The commitment of business ownership
I, ____, take you, ____, to be my lawfully wedded(husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
Congratulations, you are going to have a baby ____.
Each of these are indicators of several things; the first is that your life is going to change. A second is that you now have a lot more responsibilities. What you enjoy doing; how you spend your time and money may have previously been up to you but with either of the statements as described in the two opening paragraphs, you are making a commitment that something else is now most important.
The same is true for your firearms store. You may enjoy collecting firearms, shooting and/or hunting; you may enjoy selling firearms and talking to those with similar likes. However, once you become an owner you are making a commitment and the profitable operation of the store becomes the most important part of your work.
You have likely hired people; they and their family now depend on that job at your store. You have likely given personal guarantees to wholesalers and manufacturers. If the business fails, you will be paying off those vendors for a long time meaning this will affect your family.
So, past what you have previously enjoyed, what are the new responsibilities that you have to shoulder?
The big picture requires your attention. Past looking at the store for the next season, you need to be looking long term. Have you written what you see happening with regard to your store for the next three to five years? It is called your vision statement.
Have you made mistakes in what you have bought for inventory? How about employees; hired any that you regret hiring? These, and other mistakes occur because there are other missing components. Your business having a mission statement will remind you of what you are trying to sell, who to, and how you want it sold. Remaining true to the mission statement can help to eliminate many of these challenges that all of us have faced.
Plenty of firearms retailers decide their advertising based on the salespeople that call on the store from the various media. Instead, the responsibility to the store requires there be an annual budget and plan for all of the advertising, marketing and promoting.
While most every firearms retailer will say that they and their staff give great customer service, few make a commitment to making it happen. While the competition may give some basic training to employees, we should instead have an ongoing staff education program. With this the employees learn to sell multiple items within each transaction as well as selling the more profitable items.
Hopefully each firearms retailer utilizes the services of an accountant, be it a CPA, EA or bookkeeper. However, for many this is somewhat of a distant relationship as the firearms retailers receives paperwork that often is a confusing bunch of numbers from which little is understood and fewer decisions are made.
The responsibility of the owner is that of understanding the income statement and balance sheet; even if it means taking a course on small business accounting at a local community college. What most receive with these documents is historical information; the owner who is an active participant in their business uses this information to accurately predict the future. The owner understands and studies financial metrics so that profitability and items such as return on investment are maximized.
With these larger overview components, there are also several smaller and hands on items. Each day as the owner approaches the business they have to look at the business with the eyes of a customer. Meaning that you have to look at the parking lot, signage, windows and everything the customer sees from the outside. The same is true for the inside of the store; if it looks the same on a second visit by a customer then the customer is less likely to be looking around your store to see what is new in your product offering.
Our last aspect about the commitment; taking care of the owner - him or herself. This is accomplished in part by making a commitment of self-improvement by reading business books. An old saying is that the average retailer does not read business books. Perhaps that is why they are average.
A second point is making sure that key employees – your managers – are working full time. This does not mean they put in 40 hours each week. Instead it means that when they are in the building they are making the decisions they would be making if you were not in the store. If you are making decisions while they are working, they you are allowing them to work part time.
A final point is that your working more hours is not a badge of honor or sign of commitment to your business. Instead, the owner working a controlled amount of hours is one that understands and commits to a balance between work and life.
A commitment has been made; be it to another individual in marriage, in having a child, or owning a firearms business. All three should be a long and healthy relationship.
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.