Posted by: Diane Capuano
With 2010 on our doorstep, now is the time for New Year’s resolutions. You can hope that 2010 will be a better year economically than 2009 was. But you shouldn’t leave your fate entirely to economic circumstances that you cannot control. Take charge of your own business by making resolutions that will improve your business performance. Here are five suggestions.
1. Try something new.
You know the definition of insanity, don’t you? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you want different results, you should try something you’ve never done before. If you haven’t delved into faux-finishing products before, now might be the time to do it. If you aren’t meeting the equipment needs (airless sprayers and power washers) of your professional customer base, why not consider adding them? What about starting a “green product” section or adding in-home color consultations? Of course, if you try anything new, don’t do it on a whim. Do some research—i.e., check out what the competition is doing, talk to appropriate suppliers about product assortments and profit potential, talk with key customers about whether they would be interested in these products, etc. The point is to do some exploration and help your business evolve into new and profitable areas.
2. Vocalize your differences.
You know you have better service and higher-quality products than the nearby home center or chain store. But does your potential customer base know it? Don’t hide your light under a barrel. Let it shine for all to see. Plan an advertising and promotional campaign that touts your uniqueness. Use new media, such as your website, email blasts and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, to get the word out about what you do that makes you so unique.
3. Freshen your look.
As a retailer of decorating products, you should practice what you preach. You are advocating the idea that your customers should spruce up their homes with new paint, wallpaper, window coverings, etc., right? So, why not live that philosophy by freshening up your own store? Use the latest decorating colors on your walls. We hear that turquoise is going to be really big in 2010, so that would be a good color to feature. Also, make sure your displays show the latest window covering innovation or the niftiest time-saving tools. And, of course, make sure that your floors are swept, your windows are clean and the clutter is kept to a minimum.
4. Plan a special event.
Put something on the calendar in 2010 for you, your employees and your customers to look forward to. It could be something as simple as a pro painter pancake breakfast or a consumer “decorating with color” seminar. Or it could be something more elaborate like hosting a pro show in your warehouse/parking lot or taking a booth in the local home show. Whatever it is, make sure you promote it well and get your employees involved to make it a super-successful venture.
5. Take good care of your staff.
We’ve often said that the real strength of the independent retailer is in hiring and retaining a good, knowledgeable sales staff that has an affinity for serving your customers. You obviously want to keep these individuals on your staff, so do what you can to make the atmosphere a friendly, familial one. Pay good wages, try to put together a nice benefit package, but most importantly, be generous with praise and judicious with your criticism. Yes, it’s expensive to maintain good employees in these days of rising costs and reticent consumer spending, but the alternative is high turnover and constant training and retraining of personnel—and that can be even costlier.
We’d love you to add your own new resolutions to this list, so feel free to leave a comment offering additional ideas.
Tags: 2010 outlook