Preparing your independent retail business for 2019.
The tough thing about the last couple of months of the year is that not only is it usually the busiest time of the year for retailers, but it’s also the time of year to reflect on how the year has gone and to plan your goals for the next.
So, in-keeping with the lack of time I am assuming you currently have as a retail-owner, I wanted to give you my suggestions for what I believe you really need to focus on in order to start the new year effectively and achieve your goals for the next year.
In order to help you, I have created a simple 3-page template for retail business planning for 2019. It’s short and simple to use alongside the notes in this blog and for those retail owners who are really short on time right now, it’s a great way to set aside some notes to end the year with. So print it out, grab a pen and a festive cocktail and do some planning for an hour or 2.
Main goal. The first step is to decide on your main goal for 2019. Is it to become profitable? To grow your business with a 2ndstore? To launch your ecommerce store? Or maybe it is to simply build on your 2018 growth with more sales & bigger profits? Whatever it is, start by identifying the big goal and let’s take it from there.
Sales Goals. In order to work out how much you want and need to sell next year, you need to be clear on what you sold this year. Look at it from all angles. The annual figure, the monthly figures, the best and worst months, things that influenced those figures. The good, the bad and the ugly. What could you have done better this year to influence those sales figures? What did you mess up on? Be honest with yourself. And what did you do very well and should do more of? Write these things down and if you can talk them through with someone close as it’s a great exercise to hear yourself say something out loud Write down some reasonable sales goals for 2019 and also write an amazing goal down. A figure you currently aren’t you sure you could even reach but write those numbers down too.
Inventory. What is your end of year inventory level sitting at? If you have an inventory software look at the total purchase value and also the retail value of it. If your system shows a report for aging stock level then see how much of that inventory is slow selling and how much is active stock likely to sell-through quickly. If you don’t yet have an inventory software and are doing things manually, perhaps that could be one of your early 2019 goals. Yes it takes time to set up the first time but it is totally worth it. There are a lot of systems out there now that cost a minimal monthly amount and are very simple to use. Watch out for an upcoming blog on inventory/POS software. One major factor to plan in is an end of year stock-take/ inventory count. The best way to start the new year is with a grip on your inventory, especially after a busy festive season. Maybe you do them monthly, maybe quarterly but either way the end of year is the main one and when you need to balance the books and write off any missing stock or stock discrepancies. Start with a clean slate and a real picture of your actual inventory.
Purchase Planning. It’s a bit like making a new year’s resolution but as a store owner it’s great to make some buying plans at the beginning of the year. A lot of trade shows are early in the year and you will want to know your budget. Obviously, you need to work with your cashflow for this task but start now by making a plan based on your business needs and desires. If you are multi-brand store for example, plan in the key brands for your 2019, your repeat brands and what you want to add new and what you need to discontinue. You can allocate budgets depending on how your store works, if you are seasonal fashion then it will differ from a baby store for example but I always found it easier to work on quarterly budgets, then breaking it down by category and/or brand. Don’t forget to factor in the order to payment to delivery timescales. You might need to pay for something in February but won’t receive the stock until June for example.
Marketing Plans. You may have the luxury of having a marketing person on your team or somebody who runs your social media for you which is fantastic but as the owner of the business you still need to highlight some marketing plans for the year ahead. One main factor is to identify how much you can afford to spend on marketing. Perhaps as a percentage of your sales revenue? It will include printing fliers, gift cards, memberships to sites such as Mailchimp, event costs, designer fees, in-store posters and also of course actual advertising spend. Marketing should not just consist of posting on social media. Download my free footfall guide for more ideas in this area. It is worth putting a dollar amount to your marketing plans as it will help guide you along and as opportunities come up throughout the year you will know what you can afford to do.
Team plans. It’s time to review your team situation. Do you have enough people? Do you have too many? Do you have any underperformers? Do you need to reward someone who has done a fantastic job and keep them motivated for another year? Remember this is your business and your motivation is different than the team you have. Even the most loyal of employees will always have one eye on the road for the next opportunity in their career. Keep pushing your team with achievable goals, offer regular training sessions and reward them for smashing targets. It would be great if you can find time to have an end of year review individually with them too. You might feel uncomfortable doing it but employees love to feel appreciated and acknowledged. Heck we all do!
Your Personal Goals. One thing I wish I had done more frequently when running my retail business was to assess my own needs. As my team grew, I focussed more and more on them and never on myself. Set yourself some work goals for the new year whether it’s a structure for your time, a promise with a friend to have a monthly lunch date, a personal challenge to learn something that will help you in the business. Yes, we would all love to have weekly facials and daily gym sessions but put down goals that are realistic to you and that will help you achieve your business goals and work/life balance. Remember your worth! You have started a fantastic retail business and 2019 is the year you are going to smash those goals!
P.S Don’t forget to download the simple retail business planning template to go with this article!