Bob Phibbs is the Retail Doctor. He’s been consulting with retailers across the country for 26 years and knows how to instantly assess any retail location. In addition to offering consulting services, he also has an in-depth blog that discusses the ins and outs of running a retail location. For the next 8 weeks, we’ll be running a series of articles where we Ask The Retail Doctor for advice. See all Retail Doctor articles here.
Abound: Most store owners already have a passion for retail when they open their store, but they might not know the best business strategies to follow. What techniques should store owners always be thinking about?
Bob: Well first you have to make sure there’s a market for what you want to sell. You need to look at anyone that might be a competitor.
Notice how their customer service is, what their location is near, and how they’re merchandising. Critique their strengths and weaknesses, and then really know your numbers. If you know you should be doing 24k-30k a month, how many items at what price will you have to sell?
Really, really knowing your numbers is very important. People that have some kind of accounting background and a logical mindset do well. You have to operate strategically instead of with your heart. If you build it, they will come? That’s only in the movies.
The other thing is that the internet is always on. Store owners want to be open 10am – 5pm, Monday – Friday. But the thing is that people with money work during these times. They’re not going to be walking around during the time that’s convenient for you, they’ll be walking around during the evening or on a Sunday when it is convenient for them.
I’m not here to be your best friend. Obviously, I’m here to tell you what most people need to hear, which is simply that retail is hard. It’s not difficult, but it’s about being brilliant on the basics, over and over again. And that takes a lot of skill.
If you’ve never worked at a retail store, it would be foolish to open a retail store. If you haven’t been a cook at a restaurant, it would be foolish of you to open a restaurant.
Yeah, you’re going to expect that you’ll just figure it out, but there are some major mistakes you can make along the way. If you overbuy during your first 30 days and can’t afford to buy anything else for four months, that’s a problem. People who came in months ago will think the store looks old.
They’ll decide they’re not coming back, but they’re not going to tell you that. To overcome that possibility, you’ll have to already be using smart techniques to guarantee return customers.
Check out all our interviews with the Retail Doctor here.