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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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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Except for the lingering sugar high, Halloween is soon to be behind us. Retailers know what that means: on to the Holiday Season!

Of course, for most retailers that brings a major focus on sales. 

But, savvy retailers are focused especially on the targeted ending inventory on December 31. Those retailers are carefully watching sales reports, and are poised for action. 

  • Each week, they identify "What's not selling yet?" And they do something about it! Move it around on the floor? Display it differently? Pair it with merchandise that IS selling? Lots of choices. 

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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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We recently learned of a restaurant with a kids menu which is quite unusual.

Of course, having a kids menu is not unique. But here's what IS unusual about this one.

When kids are asked "What would you like to eat?", often their answers can range from "I don't know" to "I don't care." 

But at this restaurant, here is what each all-too-familiar answer brings to the table:

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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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As the final third of the year approaches, there's a "new era" afoot. There is optimism in the air. 

Optimism? Really? 

Yes! And it could catch a lot of folks by surprise. 

 

Consider these "early warning signs" of approaching good news:

  • Those surveys of "consumer attitudes" indicate that folks do reflect the news headlines regarding the economy – that is, respondents are pessimistic about "the economy." But when asked about their own financial situation, the responses were very positive; people feel good about their personal financial situation.

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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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Artful Idea for Retention Bonus

When asked "How many people work for you these days?", one owner we know responded, "Oh, about half of them."

Hopefully you don't share that same lament.

But, most retailers know all too well the challenges and high costs of competing for talented employees.

And, keeping staff – versus dealing with constant turnover – is even more important. Especially to your bottom line. 

So we were intrigued by this report in CNN Travel*:
  • Germany's Ruby Hotels, which has 16 properties across Europe, is offering new recruits up to €500 ($511) to get a new tattoo, piercing or haircut once they reach six months of employment.