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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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.

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See the forest, not just the trees

Now that we've put a wrap on 2021, and before we really dive into 2022, it's time to catch your breath and reflect on where we are after 2021. 

Perhaps like us you believe that fundamental and enduring changes have occurred; no one can operate on "auto-pilot" anymore. All of us have to learn new processes, and form new habits. What's it called? Oh yes; "embracing change." Lots of it. 

That's why it is a very opportune time, particularly for owners, to have a very active Q&A session with themselves. 

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As we get ready for the New Year, and the post-Holiday season slowdown settles in, here's a positive way for retailers to re-energize and re-focus their entire organization, whether one store or even a hundred. 

We learned this from one of our clients with nearly 50 stores widely scattered over 6 states. Each day, without fail, they would take time for what they called the "Corporate Cheer." 

You will see how it can be a fun addition to any retail business, no matter the size.

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In most years, this is the week that is typically a bit of a lull. The first wave of shoppers – Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, Cyber Monday – has crested; the final wave doesn't begin in earnest until this coming weekend.

But this year IS different. Shoppers began shopping in earnest much earlier. And they use the internet to do their browsing, and then have an array of choices for receiving their purchases, from delivery to curbside pickup to in-store pickup.

So, what better time than this to revisit your returns policy?!