Prepare To Depart for the Unknown

January 1999

Publisher's Comments

Prepare To Depart for the Unknown

 

Here we are at the beginning of another year, an appropriate time to wonder what the business climate may be in the months ahead. We hear mixed signals as usual. But overall, the prognosis is favorable.

Interest rates are down. The Consumer Confidence Index is up. The stock market is, well, who knows? A couple of things we do know: (1) there are a lot of unknowns and (2) whatever the economy has in store, we'll have to live with it. But take comfort in the fact you can do a great deal now to prepare for success in the months ahead.

Here, in capsule form, are a few "to do" items you might consider to get your business in shape before you have to deal with the unknowns.

  1. Give your business a reality check, starting with your business plan. Chances are it needs to be updated to reflect changes in your trading area, customer base, competition. Enter your 1999 goals and review long-range objectives. Once you've brought the plan up to date, distribute copies for discussion with your employees. The more they know of your objectives, the more they'll be dedicated to your (and their) success.
  2. Take a dispassionate look at your inventory. Is it turning at a profitable rate? Are there "dogs" that need to be closed out? Does your merchandise mix satisfy your market? Should you add new styles to attract a broader clientele? Do you offer enough price points to attract a broad base of customers and give them an opportunity to trade up?
  3. Take a close look at your image. What about your furnishings, fixtures, window displays, promotions, advertising? Do they convey quality?
  4. Take a new look at your staff members. Are their appearance and demeanor in context with your company image? Do they have the product knowledge your customers expect? Are they properly rewarded for their ability? Do they work well together? Do customers view them with confidence and trust? Are they passionate about what they sell?
  5. Take a look at your management style. Do you lead by example in appearance, knowledge, dedication, and character? Do you encourage input from customers, vendors and employees? Do you communicate consistently and share information with all employees? Do you give credit quickly and openly to deserving staff members? Do you build on your knowledge and skills by reading publications and by attending conferences, seminars, etc.?

Once you've updated your business plan and evaluated these points, you should be ready to make some critical decisions. You may even decide it's time to reinvent your business, expand your horizons or take some new risks that will stir up your competitors and impress your customers. Do today whatever it takes to put you in good shape for tomorrow.

Above all, enjoy what you do. As one savvy retailer once said to me: "running a business shouldn't be something you do to live, but something you live to do."

Happy New Year!

– by Charles Bond



Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


 

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