Going Back to Basics Works for Retail and Restaurants (short piece 26A)

I happen to be back in retail and ironically work in the retail store I managed years ago right before I got fed up with 80 hour weeks and started in restaurant business as a bartender. The economy has changed and the sales are about 50% of what they were back then. I admit things have changed, the economy is bad and we are in a different era but I think many things still apply as they once did. A retail business as any other business has a basic setup that is, if done right, essential to the success of the business. This setup is everything from choosing the location, the decor, the arrangement of things, the back office, the products, the services, the philosophy of the business and so on. The list will go on but my point is simple that these factors are the basics of the business. One thing that happens over the course of time is a good business that is built on good foundation and basics may find an opportunity and expand in that direction. This sometimes works great but then that trend may die out, change or become confused leaving the business amidst uncertainty. Economy may be bad today but even if it was not the business could be lukewarm because of the confusion of the products. This type of retail electronics once specialized in home appliances. Landline telephones were all the rage and probably a hundred of them populated the better parts of the floor. Those happy days are gone and now over forty cellphones populate the area and the few landlines have disappeared to the back of the floor. Cellphones did take over and landlines did turn into DSL connections rather than basic telephone lines and it was definitely wise to follow this trend but now the market is saturated and even if the economy was good, the trend would be confused if not weak.

You cannot just follow it straight because it goes nowhere. The customers who would be there to be sold are no longer around. Everyone including all little kids already have cellphones and are prompted to upgrade so regularly one cannot identify a strong market waiting to be sold by simple action. Whatever is out there is confused and has to be clarified to be of some use. I learned a good rule in sales years ago.

Salespeople have to work in the field and can have good or bad times. That is inevitable. A salesperson can start and do great without any problems and eventually fall into a slump and never recover fully. A retail business can end up the same way. One solution for those who have to worry about this salesperson and his or her performance has been to make him or her go back to the basics.

The basics are the initial things that set things up for the person or the business to go into operations. They are known to work though have limitations. The business existed because of them without any other great trends and the salesperson can do well without any truly hot product as long as one masters and follows the basics. In the case of the retail business, if things are not going well because the great trend has somehow lost its drive, there is always the choice to return to basics to save the day or week and so on until may be another clear and strong trend appears. The basics also save the salesperson until he picks up again.

What are the basics of retail? How about good retail practices? The location is already there but many things can be done well to run it well. Does the inside and the outside of the store work the best they can? Is the store visible from distance? Does the inside invite customers to want to browse and shop there? Is everything on display properly? Are they priced accurately? Does everything work as they should? Are the salespeople in good shape for meeting customers? Is everything setup professionally? A retail business has guidelines for a basic setup so the store is sales ready and those basics can be excellent means to hold on while things are going rough. One great retail principle is by following the basics, one can expect not to LOSE customers. We already know why customers do not shop or do not return and the basics were created with that in mind to change these basic flaws and tendencies into advantages. A true dedication to following the basics results in losing as few customers as possible. The result is holding on strong to every dollar, every customer, every transaction by being focused and performing. This focus and performance comes from following the basics religiously. The ship can sail the stormy waters until better waters by being disciplined and organized.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.


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