PERSPECTIVES

From The Co-Founders

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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 savvy retailers know that now is the time to be putting the finishing touches on – wait for it – being ready for December 26!

Yes, this unique time period between December 26 and New Year's Day is a tremendous make-or-break opportunity. Indeed, many retailers find they net more from this time than any earlier stretch of 6-10 days!


Why? Three main reasons.

First, the many opportunities to reduce expenses "back to normal". Less advertising cost. Less staff. Fewer hours.

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There's a very important annual job for you, the owner, and all of your senior staff. It's vital, and it involves your presence.

The pressures are mounting on your stores, and in particular, your front line staff. 

  • Noticed all the "help wanted" signs in stores, coffee shops, restaurants? It's not just you; lots of (other) businesses are having a tough time with finding and keeping good help. 

    In fact, a nearby McDonald's posted a notice on its front door acknowledging that they were understaffed due to no-shows, and encouraging (imploring?) customers to be considerate to the people behind the counter who are there to serve them.

     
  •  Meanwhile, the deadlines for online orders to arrive before Christmas are fast approaching. This will lead to a surge in in-store shoppers. And more demands on your front-line staff.

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As the Holiday Season approaches, finding good help promises to be especially challenging for retailers this year. 

Then, we read "10 Things to Know to Get And Keep Retail Jobs," a to-the-point commentary from Bob Phibbs*, who specializes in retail sales training. 

Here are his Top Ten recommendations for prospective retail employees:  

  • "Performance is Key"
  • "Treat Customers with Respect"
  • "Go the Extra Yard"
  • "Be on Time"
  • "Don't Gripe About the Hours"
  • "Be Flexible"
  • "Don't Be a Drag" 
  • "Be a Team Player"
  • "Respect the Rules"
  • "A Cut in Hours is a Sign"

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In the free enterprise system, owners are free to succeed. And free to fail. 

That's why The Retail Owners Institute has defined the #1 responsibility of the Owner as the survival of the business. 

But then, the owner must define "Why?" Why are we doing this, anyway? Why are we working so hard for this business to survive and thrive?

  • There are many good answers. To be the biggest? The fastest growing? A way of life? Something to pass on to the next generation? To create wealth? To support a cause? 
     
  • It all depends on the owner, and what she or he decides. Then, that answer must be communicated: to staff, customers, family, the community, competitors, everyone.  

That brings us to an event that captured a great deal of attention in the business world last week. 

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It's back-to-school season! 

We were struck by these comments from folks for whom "back-to-school" is more than a season. Look what a state superintendent of public instruction* had to say about the upcoming school year. 

  • "The sheer burnout of the last two years caught up with everybody."
     
  •  "But out of that came a genuine assessment of what matters most."

Lots of retailers can identify with those comments, don't you agree?

Or, these observations about the disruptions and uncertainties of the pandemic:

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You've no doubt seen the headlines and the commentary:

  • "Retailers Stumble Adjusting to More Selective Shoppers" *
     
  • "Consumers Uneven Spending Fuels Caution Among Retailers" **

Consumer spending is up, but not on what was expected, especially those publicly-traded chains that must report quarterly. 

  • "As people watched the prices of food and gas rise, their spending became more selective, leaving retailers with shelves of inventory they couldn’t get rid of." 
     
  • "Although some consumers are cutting spending on goods, it is being accompanied by increased spending on services," according to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics. **

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It doesn't make any difference if you're selling tires, turbans or tuxedoes. 

Poor prior planning produces pitifully poor profits. 
(You can take that to the bank!)

We came across an article on this checklist theme for the rapidly approaching fall/Holiday season. 

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We think this may be a very different 4th of July Holiday weekend. 

It will not be just about red, white & blue window displays, or flag waving, or fireworks displays. Instead, there is a new mood, a new attitude that is emerging. 

First, we believe that all shoppers are reeling from being swamped by some major and concurrent attention-grabbing events and trends affecting all of us. Seemingly with no end in sight.