May 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

It is amazing how time away from something that captivates so much of your time, energy and thought process can add perspective.

I took a week off last week and took the family away. I have come back with some tools that formed by connecting the dots. In other words all the elements were there before, they just hadn’t been mixed together. My perspective has changed and now it is simply about using the tools to test it out.

First and foremost is to prioritize better at work and the tools needed. I have developed a threshold for each category for each store that should allow me to manage our inventory better, track movement against expectations better and that will hopefully lead to greater profitability and accountability of more than just me.

There it is… the reason I blog. Every blog asks me to work out an idea. The idea of this blog was to have the tools that made more people accountable for our mutual success than just me. To create a playing field where it is pretty cut and dry if you are succeeding, getting by or getting tossed.

Ooh that feels good. Feels like I have finally itched that spot that keeps moving.

Social Media Success… let’s See

August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m a sucker for a contest especially when comes to being able to talk about what Social Media has meant to my business.

Before attending Social Media Camp 2010 I had built a bit of a following on Twitter and our Facebook page was a source of a great deal of fun and engagement. What I took away from SMCV10 was that these platforms were more than simply and new way to communicate, they were nothing more that telephone lines into our business that were operating 24/7 and all we had to do was to answer them.

After having some fun with this we did the big ROI analysis. I can remember quite clearly Scott Stratten almost blowing a gasket when speaking of ROI – “do you question your telephone on its ROI? Of course not your moron!” Although very impassioned I was about to make a pitch to a number of people whose concept of social media was that it was a diversion from real stuff. My pitch was going to be simple – put the money we spend on Traditional media into to two things – 1) the in-store experience and 2) social media.

To make a long story short I was given the green light and the switch was made in January 2011. By the switch I mean that we were re-directing $70,000. So what was the result?

A retailer measures success in two ways 1) the bottom line and 2) the ‘flavour’ it provides its customers. To see if my game plan was working we needed to be able to see it in gross margins and an increase the number of customers visiting our stores each week. After 4 weeks there was reason to be confident, however it was still to early to tell as we needed to see loyalty from our new customers.

As I write this  it has been 8 full months since the switch and this is what we have seen.

Advertising Spend $7250 vs $70,000

Gross Margins +5% over same period the year before.

Average Weekly Customer Count +9% over the same period the year before.

I don’t know about you, but that is a success to us. Thank you SMCV10

Bully vs The Force Field

October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

As I kid I remember playing Super Hero games and I always had a force field. It protected me from all the bully’s of the universe and I could rely on it at anytime.

I no longer play Super Hero games with my competitors, but I do deal with bully’s and have a force field.

Every industry has some bully’s in it and it seems that they hold all the cards. They have greater cash reserves, they can and do buy more advertising, they get first crack at a lot of things and it is really hard to see how one can compete.

You need a force field. Your force field is your proposition that your competition, no matter how big, can not take away from you.

I was reminded of this the other day when in the bully in my industry was able to circumvent an order I had  placed with the supplier. It was an illegal move but the regulators will turn a blind eye, why? because my regulator is also my distributor who is also my retail competitor. It made my blood boil. I sat down at my computer to write an angry, acerbic e-mail that was guaranteed to have everyone that I was yelling at bending to my will. Ridiculous – delete.

I reminded myself that the bully had lost over 35% of the their market share in the last 2 years to companies like ours. They are starting to get desperate and, like all bullies, resort to underhanded tactics to try to pull back market share. They don’t get that I have a force field that even under handed and evil tactics can not penetrate.

My force field is only as strong as the relationship we have with our customers, suppliers and other vendors. Our relationships are premised on having open dialogue with a goal to raising the bar. Our force field is directly impacted by the level of engagement we have with the customer. That engagement has many faces(price, selection, customer service, hours, parking, location, personality) but it all comes down to honesty and doing what we say we are going to do.

The bully can’t deal with that. If they did it would become clear that they are a bully and they stand to lose even more market share. I have yet to come across a story where the bully wins anything that lasts. They will lose but you have to help them lose by constantly building your force field.

Thank you for reading this.

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