In our retail businesses there are hundreds of aspects, areas and activities we could change. Before we dive in let's pause and have a good think about the reasons and the benefits change could bring to our business and to our customers.
We are constantly being bombarded with articles and messages about changing – the times are a’changing, the way we do business is changing, we must change our thinking, we must change and adapt, change or die! All well and good and , yes, probably true!
But what are we changing from and to? How are we going to change? And more importantly why?
Change for the sake of change is not enough – let’s not do it because every newspaper and journal we read tells us we have to. There have to be sound and good reasons before making changes.
Let’s look at some of the areas we could improve; think about why and how they would benefit our customer's shopping experience and therefore our business:
Change the layout – to improve customer flow, make it easier for customers to find and purchase products, to expose more products to customers.
Change the fixtures –to display product more effectively, improve visual appeal, make it easier for customers to shop, give the store a more modern, contemporary feel.
Change the merchandising techniques – more bulk displays for high volume sales, more inspirational displays to give ideas and motivation, more colour blocking for high impact and visual appeal, more vertical blocking to make shopping easier, more integrated displays to sell the package.
Change the signage and ticketing – more customer friendly language, not botanical/technical jargon, more key benefits and reasons to buy, make sure the price is bold and clear, put your brand and logo on every sign, use colour to highlight price and value, use A3 size or larger to create impact and improve visibility / readability.
Change the pricing strategy – more everyday value prices on known value commodity lines, more multi-buys to increase sales and be more competitive, more deals, specials and sales to increas volume sales, higher margins on non-known value items to maintain margins and profitability.
Change the way the garden centre is staffed – to reduce wages costs and maximise best use of staff skills, fewer full-time contracts and more part-time and casual contracts to maximise flexibility, use glide time to have the right staff doing the right tasks at the right time, training and empowering staff to do their best.
Change the way we give information to our customers – computerised product information system for customer use in store, electronic ticketing for smart phone users, interactive websites - all contribute to ease and convenience with which customers receive information.
Change the way you talk to customers – set up a business page on Facebook, Twitter, re-format the website to make it more interesting, inter active and informative, regular email newsletters to your customer data base, a value added loyalty programme or valued customer club.- make your business top of your customers’ minds.
Change the services offered – purchase on line, delivery, garden advisory, place and plant sevices, landscape design and build, potting up, tool sharpening – what can you add to provide increased service and convenience to your customers.
Change the premises and branding – create a clean and modern environment where customers will want to stay and shop, create a modern contemporary brand and logo that tells your customers you are a business of the 21st century, not of the 1970’s.
Change the way the business is managed – record and react to key performance indicators, write an annual budget, prepare a five year business plan, manage and control expenses and buying, - create efficiencies which will increase profitability.
Change your attitude – look for reasons why, not excuses for why not, become a glass half full person, not a glass half empty one, accept that you don’t know everything and no matter how long you have been in the business you can still learn and grow.
Here then are a dozen things you could change or improve in your business – changing just one of them could make a big difference. Whether you choose to change one or all of them make sure the changes you do make will make your business better for both you and your customers.
- John Russell