The saying “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going” is very apt for retail store owners today. The recession has been hard for many retail stores, most especially mom-and-pop stores, but there are also some that are prospering in tough times. You’d definitely want to be in the latter category, growing and thriving despite the rough economic climate.
One resource that could help your retail business prosper in both good times and bad is Bob Philbin’s new book “The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business: A Step-by-Step Approach to Quickly Diagnose, Treat, and Cure It is a must read for all retail storeowners looking for solutions to improve the performance of their retail business.
If your business is not performing according to your expectations, or even if you just want to see it grow, even more, Philbin’s book helps you examine the important elements that contribute to the success of a retail business. The author takes you to various aspects of the business, giving you a step-by-step approach to finding out problem areas and opportunities to improve your store.
More importantly, the book offers solutions, best practices tips, and advice based on Philbin’s years of experience consulting with other retail stores and helping them solve their problems. Even if your retail store is doing well, the book is full of ideas and tips on how you can further improve the sales and profitability of your business.
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Some of the recommendations are quite tough, even harsh. And rightly so, especially if your business is on the downhill, or worse, in the gutter. If your retail business has never turned a profit, or losses keep piling up, maybe tough love is what your business really needs.
The author stresses the importance of determining and understanding what’s wrong and what’s not working with your retail business. You need to zero in on the problems in order to provide a workable solution, tough it may be. You need to address the problems head-on, including firing the dependable but bitter Betty who seems to attract a lot of problems and turn-off customers and fellow employees.
The strength of the book lies in its approach to understanding the common problems of a retail business. The book starts with a chapter on understanding your financials and then looks at the setup and configuration of your store. He proceeds to focus next on your employees – which he calls “your most important asset” – from the hiring process, training and coaching, and how they sell. Only after you’d cleaned up your mistakes internally does Philbin delve into the marketing.
Importance of Knowing Your Financials
Many small business owners make the mistake of failing to understand their financial statements and what the numbers really say. But how can you know what’s wrong with your business if you do not know and understand your financial statements? Don’t be like many of them, who operate their retail stores based on what they think is right, not what their numbers are telling them they should do.
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The author repeatedly stresses is that the strategies designed to increase sales are not always good for the profitability and bottom line of your business. If your retail business is not making money, as it should, you should look at how everything is contributing to your profitability. Don’t just focus on trying to increase sales, because the strategies you use might end up hurting your profits. Take one of his suggestions:
“Limit the discounting. Without a plan, you’ll do anything to get money in. I know one toy store owner using Twitter tells her followers they’ll get 30 percent off if they come in that day! What she doesn’t realize is how she is robbing herself of profits to pay the bills.”
How Your Store Looks is Critical to its Success
The book then focuses on the look and design the store, explaining how merchandising placement, maintenance, and flow of movement are important to a successful store. According to the author:
“A great display takes customers from either not noticing or feeling stupid after noticing a product, to giving them a clear picture of how it would look in their homes, how they could use it in their businesses, or how they could combine several items. Great displays help build sales because they stop customers in their tracks and persuade them to select an item they hadn’t necessarily considered. Conversely, sloppy or poorly coordinated displays rob your store of its ability to make additional profit.
He proceeds to give tips on how to select the merchandise to display, the types of displays to consider, how to merchandise your store and even common merchandising don’ts. The ways you present your store and the items you sell have a huge impact on your sales.
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What should you not do? For starters, avoid hiring a man carrying a big sign outside your store as it makes you look unsuccessful. As Phibbs wrote,
“Nothing appears more desperate than a person standing on the sidewalk holding a red arrow pointing to your store. Though it may get you attention, it just makes people think: “poor guy.”
What’s Our Take?
If you are running an online store or thinking of opening your own retail store, “The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business” is just what you need. It is one of the best small business retail books that I’ve read in a long time It is full of common sense advice that could save you tons of money. Or perhaps even your business.