Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post called Vision Casting that talked about how to make sure you’d meet your store’s goals by 2020.  Certainly the past six years have brought us challenges that we couldn’t have predicted back then, including huge increases in rents, wages and health insurance – and the growth of Amazon’s sales by some 250%.

But one truth from that post still rings true: you won’t make progress towards your goals unless you make time to work on them.  Are you preoccupied by making sure that the customer bathroom is not out of toilet paper, and other details?  As I said in 2014, “If you are managing things at that level every day, you need to delegate some responsibility so that you are free to do future planning.”

In addition to taking time to look to the future of your business, you’ll need to set some realistic goals.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Decide if you want to increase your commitment to e-commerce. If you do, make sure that your order fulfillment systems are efficient, and consider consulting with an SEO expert about how to draw traffic to your site.
  2. Look at whether you can finance your inventory and other expenses without incurring credit card interest.  It’s great to earn miles on store purchases, but only if you pay off the balance in full each month. There are other options, including bank loans, personal loans and fintech companies like Fundbox (see the Finding Findtech blog post).
  3. Consider whether you can step up your social media game, perhaps by delegating. I’m fine with handling our store’s Facebook account, but I’m happy to have the help of a team of younger staff members to make sure that we post regularly on Instagram.
  4. Set up a calendar for the year’s special events and window displays. Take notes to market with you so that you can buy product to support these plans.
  5. Invest in your staff in order to provide stellar customer service.  Make sure that your pay scale is competitive, and brainstorm ways beyond the hourly wage to make working at your shop rewarding.  Asking for your employees’ input is essential to make them feel involved in the shop’s success.
  6. Reach out to your business peers for mutual support – and to promote cooperatively.
  7. New merchandise and new lines make shopping at your store exciting. Go to a trade show, and consult with your sales reps to see what introductions are out there that would work in your store.  Ask for specials in order to offer your customers sale pricing at full markup. 
  8. Watch your margins.  Use free freight and other discounts whenever possible to reduce inventory costs, and don’t be afraid to take more than keystone markup on some items.
  9. Examine your expenses.  Your bottom line could improve if you can cut back on even just some of the costs associated with running your shop.
  10. Get involved in your community. Shoppers like to support local businesses, and the more you do in your town or city the better known you’ll be to potential customers.

I hope that these ideas help you start planning for this new decade, and that setting goals helps your business succeed! 

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder