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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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.

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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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"Retail is a mirror of society."

Yes, Daylight Savings began a couple weeks ago. But it's not just the time on the clocks that changed; the times themselves have substantially changed. 

Followers of The ROI has heard us assert many times that "Retail is a mirror of society." As we reflect on the first quarter of 2022, we are struck by how much has changed in just those three months. And retailers must adapt – yes, again! – to this rapidly changing environment.

Think about it. Consider the assumptions you made just a few months ago, in late December and early January about 2022. 

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Just one week until Valentine's Day! Are you feeling the love yet?

  • Tumult, rancor and uncertainty abound in the day's news.
  • Big storms are pounding large areas.
  • The pandemic is lingering.

What better time to send a love note to your customers? 

That's right. A Valentine. Just a Valentine. No strings attached! Show your love!