From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

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The Fatigue of Uncertainty

Have you noticed? That persisting Plague of Uncertainty that keeps hanging around?

  • The troubling issues in Ukraine and the potential repercussions.
  • Inflation now includes an even greater hike in oil and gasoline prices because of the Ukraine situation.
  • Unresolved supply chain issues, particularly impacting smaller businesses with less clout.
  • Employee unrest, union organizing, the "Great Resignation." 
  • Stock market declines, which seem to foster even more talk of unrest and uncertainty.
  • Not to mention the extended Farewell Tour of Covid and The Variants. 

And amidst all this relentless uncertainty, you still have a business to run, employees to motivate, customers to satisfy, vendors to deal with, creditors to pay, etc, etc.  

Here are some ideas on how to approach that.

  • First, accept that "business as usual"(that is, pre-pandemic) – Door A –  is not available. Don't even try to go back to that. These indeed are unprecedented times for retailers.
  • Next, Door B. Give yourself permission to really re-imagine your business. In today's world, what would it take to put the fun back into retailing for you? There may be a strategy! Opportunities abound!
  • And yes, Door C. Give just as much serious thought to getting out of the business. No shame in that, especially if it has been your well-considered choice.

Let's take a closer look at what's involved. 

Door B: "Let's put the fun back in retailing!"

  • Which customer groups do you most want to serve? Of those at the top of your list, do you have an established following? Or is this an aspirational target market for you? (That's okay, so long as you know it.)
  • Which vendors do you most want to continue with? Grow with? And yes, which vendors or lines or categories are you most comfortable letting slip away?
  • Have any competitors gone away, creating growth opportunities for you? This could open lots of doors...

Given those assumptions...

  • Now think about your stores. Which ones are definite keepers? Which, if any, would you like to relocate? Which, if any, would you like some square footage changes?​
  • What else might need to be re-invigorated? How about your staff? Does this new vision take better advantage of their talents and strengths? If not, how readily are people with those talents available to you? What would it take to be able to hire them?
  • Of course, does it "pencil out?" Take advantage of The ROI's 3-in-1 INTEGRATED Calculator to quickly get a sense of "how much time and how much money" it would take to make your new plan happen. 

Door C: "Hmm. Maybe that doesn't sound so fun after all."

Be careful; don't dismiss your newly-imagined business too quickly. Embracing those changes can seem daunting. 

But, you do have to give just as much constructive thought to whether now is the time to close down your operation. (See the "Ready to Move On?" section in the OWNERS Center for more.)

Here are three fundamental questions retailers need to answer in this new world of uncertainties:

  • "Do I have the capacity to do this?" (The customers, products, systems, people, locations, capital, etc.)
  • "Do I have the appetite to do this?" Be honest; these pandemics have taken a toll on lots of folks. 
  • Most important, "Do I have the stomach to do this?" That of course is the most telling question. Do you still have the requisite "fire in the belly?"

If any of your answers are "No," start now to map out what could be next for you. 

How best to deal with the Plague of Uncertainty? 

First, dispatch Door A: Business as It Was pre-covid.

Then, summon your optimism and your good judgment. Really consider both Door B and Door C.

In other words, take control and choose your own adventure!

It truly may be the opportunity of a lifetime!

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