The Top Mistakes of Independent Retailers
By Tom Ryan
In his new book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing
Your Business: A Step-by-Step Approach to Quickly Diagnose, Treat, and Cure,
Bob Phibbs explains the pitfalls many independent businesses fall into when
running their businesses. The Retail Doc touches on hiring/training, merchandising,
sales techniques, pricing and website presence.
The following is a list of
Mr. Phibbs’ "Top 10 Mistakes Independent
Businesses Do That Hurt Themselves The Most":
- They hire the exact same person as themselves. This works if all
you want to talk to is people like you, but having a balanced crew lets you
speak to all four of the personality types. With only one type of person,
you often find a "hive" mentality where it’s us versus them.
- They fill their stores with merchandise based on "gut feeling." Rather
than having a system to replace the sellers as well as remove the dogs, their
floor is littered with duplicates that leads to the merchandise being dated,
shopworn and inhibits their ability to repurchase best sellers.
- They have no sales process. This leads to customers doing all the
work and employees that become slackers. Clerking has no place except in
fast food. No, it has no place – everyone can up sell.
- They display their merchandise with no flare, creativity or system. Stack
it on the shelves and hope it sells. More often than not, it’s accompanied
with a handwritten starburst sign with a price, rather than a fun sign that
makes us stop and consider the items in the display. Remember: just because
it’s cheap doesn’t make it want-able.
- If they have a website, it frequently is lacking in the most crucial
details – rendering it invisible to potential customers. Because owners don’t
understand the Internet, many throw up their arms and settle or tell themselves
its great, when it misses on the most basic of criteria.
- They train by crisis, instead of logic. This often means the best employees
leave quickly and the worst are rewarded. Being the one "in charge" only
means you’ll be the one taking all the stupid questions when you take
a day off or go to the bank.
- They do not review employees to high standards. This allows the
weak to thrive on the owner’s dime.
- The only quiver in their bow is to discount their merchandise, price
match and participate in multiple discount programs in a wrong-headed
belief it will grow sales. This robs profits and often means they’re putting money
into the business, instead of taking it out.
- They have little or no presence on social media, which means they are unaware
of what customers are saying about their business.
- They whine that it’s the economy, government, or their online competitors
who are ruining them – never taking responsibility that it’s
up to them to make a profit.
Discussion Questions: What do you see as the most egregious failings of
independent retailers identified in the article? Are there others you would
Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business, A Step-By-Step Approach to
Quickly Diagnose, Treat and Cure – Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor