Independent Retailers and the COVID-19 Crisis

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Since March 2, 2020, The ROI's Co-Founders have been offering insights, strategic approaches, and online resources for independent retailers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

These appeared first in The ROI NEWS.

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Enough already with the "Covid Fatigue"
Have you noticed? "Covid fatigue" has been spreading lately. It seems to be almost as contagious as the virus itself. Ugh!

And small wonder. Even as parts of the economy strive to re-open, they only remind us of how different everything is.
  • Major League Baseball played in stadiums of cardboard cutouts of fans. The U.S. Open Golf Tournament with no spectators. Professional basketball teams in "the bubble" at Disney World. 
  • And some colleges preparing to resume fall classes have been described as "a cross between a seminary and a minimum-security prison."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress cannot agree on what should be done next. A nasty election campaign season looms. Protests are still happening in many locations. 

Remember this: all these things that contribute to our Covid fatigue, what we have called the "Pandemic Trifecta of 2020" – the virus, the economic meltdown, the national protests – all of these are uncontrollables. We all are victims of all three pandemics. 

But, you CAN control what you choose to do with your business going forward. Will you choose Door A, Door B or Door C? 

While it may feel like there are no good choices, we believe there can be good decisions. 

  • First, accept that "business as usual" – Door A –  is not available.Don't even try to go back to that. 
  • Next, give yourself permission to really re-imagine your business. What would it take to put the fun back into retailing for you?
  • And third, give just as much serious thought to getting out of the business. No shame in that, especially if it has been your 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?

Given those assumptions:

  • 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.)
 
Start by thinking through all three kinds of assets in your business. This goes beyond the Balance Sheet numbers. You have Other Tangible Assets and Intangible Assets, all of which have value. 


Recognizing all of the assets that you have built over the years puts you in much better position to consider what's next.

  • There may be a buyer for your entire operation.
  • Or, if not, there may be ways for you to very shrewdly "part out" your business. Given all of the "going out of business" or "store closing" sales going on, this could be a productive way to go.

Of course, you also must consider what would be next for you? 

It comes back to three fundamental questions retailers need to answer:

  • Do I have the capacity to do this? (The customers, products, systems, people, locations, 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?"

You DO Have Choices
Again, while it may feel like there are no good choices, we believe there CAN be good decisions.

So, summon your optimism, and take control; choose your own adventure! It truly may be the opportunity of a lifetime!



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