I am currently working on a textbook useful to small business classes, small business managers and CEOs. I am drawing on my four decades of successful retail experiences, observations of hundreds of retail stores both large and small, experiences as a sales clerk, store manager and chief executive officer of a variety of store concepts, and talent at figuring things out, to create a guide to setting up and operating a retail store at the highest level of efficiency.
This book is not designed for business owners. Since a business owner often has unhealthy (for the business) emotional ties to his/her creation, very similar to a parent-child relationship, it would be a very special and unusual business owner indeed who would be able to get past those strong emotional attachments and view these concepts in the proper light. However, as a manager or CEO responsible for the stewardship of another person's child, so to speak, you will find the information in this book enlightening, practical, and invaluable .
I am going to post a sneak-peek at my chapter outline and some actual book entries (first drafts) here over the next several months as I work on the content. Eventually, this will serve as a "movie trailer" for my new book.
- Who Can Use This Book
As stated in the paragraph above, store managers and CEOs will find this book most useful. Store owners are generally too close emotionally to proceedings in their store to get full value from the content.
- Who Am I and Why Should You Listen To Me
This chapter lists my wide range of employment experiences, both as management and hired staff. Everything that has shaped my system will be mentioned, then described in detail later in each chapter.
- Business Owner Personality Types and How To Appeal To Them
This is why companies hire CEOs. Owners are not necessarily skilled at running a business. But they all think they are, at least in the beginning. If they manage to stay in business for any length of time, the notion that they are doing things right really gets cemented in their minds. Getting the owner away from the business is often, but not always, a big part of future efficiency. So how do you convince them? Or at least marginalize their flaws so the bottom line is not effected? This chapter answers those questions.
- Personnel - Management. Happy Workers are Productive Workers. Or Else
This chapter will enlighten you to the fact that "money is not everything" when it comes to employee happiness. Sure, there are employees driven by money, and you can certainly gain a lot of leverage on a person who lives at or above their means. And you will probably need a few employees who live like typical Americans to stabilize your work force. However, the real gems out there - too often passed over by other companies - are the folks who love some activity outside of the workplace more than money. Extra time off for some people is motivation more valuable than gold. This chapter shows you how to find such people, and how keep them on staff as long as possible. Conventional benefits will not appeal to this talented, motivated group.
- Front Counter Setup, Management, and Positioning
It is hard for me to believe how many stores of all sizes do not place their checkout counter in the most optimal store location. I have managed stores that had this down to a perfect science, and worked in others where counter placement was so wrong that customer flow, employee movements, and other very important functions of proper counter placement were unbearable and costly. Diagrams will be included in this chapter with full explanations of each counter feature, employee placement behind the counter, counter employee expectations as well as limitations to what tasks they should handle, how to greet, or not greet customers etc.
- How To Handle Difficult Customers
- Payroll, Bonus Incentives, Commission Sales, and Profit Sharing that Make Sense
- Utilize "Fresh Eyes" of New Employees
New employees often spot glaring defects in store operations but are often intimidated or hesitant to bring them to the attention of seasoned management. This chapter highlights the importance of creating an atmosphere conducive to instant feedback from fresh employees.
- The Two Most Important Rules of Retail
Many retail stores strangle themselves with rules, protocol, and complicated procedures for doing business. It really boils down to just two main points. Yes, you will have to wait for the book to find out what they are.
- Scams and Advertising - Often The Same Thing
I have an entire chapter devoted to detecting outright scams from persons in the store, on the telephone, or through Email. Closely related to illegal scams is paid advertising. I will help you to create a formula for dollars committed to advertising, and often this amount is zero for certain companies. Not everyone benefits from advertising, and often print or television ads can just create worthless phone calls that use your employee resources for no financial gain.
- Watch Your Back! Check Up On Your Vendors.
Develop a schedule for investigating how your important vendors are marketing thier products outside of your store. You may be surprised to find that some of them are working both sides of the street. It is foolish in most cases to sell products in a specialty retail store that is being given away at The Mart down the road or online.
- Inventory Is Worth More Than Money
Some store owners and managers are afraid to fill the store with inventory if it means over extending some imaginary budget. If you can not fill your square footage, find a smaller, cheaper location and fill that up. Money in the bank draws pathetic interest. Most of your inventory will more than quadruple your investment in a year. I have followed some departments in stores I have managed where the inventory turns 12 times a year, which of course is rare. Do you think I filled the bank with money, or that department with inventory?
- Disadvantages of the Owner Present in the Store
There is a long list of reasons. This chapter will dive deep into this topic. Unless the owner is some sort of celebrity, probably best they do something else during business hours. The owners of very successful businesses are very often talented visionaries - an attribute that offers little to the actual mechanics of a retail store.
- Using The Crystal Ball
Ever wished you had a the ability to see into the future when placing pre-season orders due to ship a year from now? I can not deliver that sort of insight in a book, but there is a crystal ball that goes unnoticed by many store managers that increases cash flow and decreases slow moving inventory. Again...you have to wait for the book to get this answer.
- A Short Economics Class
You should know what a "point of diminishing returns" is all about. At least.
- How To Be A Customer - Bonus Chapter
I will publish this check list as a PDF online so you can print it and use it as a handout for your more challenging "customers". For instance, a CUSTOMER by definition actually spends money in your establishment. Someone who hangs out with you, asks a million questions, taps your knowledge, then orders the items of conversation online to save some money is NOT a customer. My customer checklist will be a nice wakeup call for these people. It is a win-win for your store. Either they see the error of their ways and drop a few bucks with you, or then never return to waste employee time and resources.
- And of course - much, much more!