Sure do, “buddy,” it’s 4:30 p.m. Sorry, that’s not what I meant. I intended to say “do you take business actions at the right time so as to maximize their effects?

In sports, love and in business, it is often said that timing is everything. Setting aside sports and love, contemplate just how important it is in the business world. Consider the importance of the following:

  • Take your markdowns before the season ends versus after the season is completed.
  • Begin a promotion on Thursday or Friday and not on a Monday.
  • Take delivery of products before their sales peak, not after it.
  • Develop your marketing plans before the new season commences, not after the fact.
  • Develop your strategic plans for the new year before the end of the current year.
  • Negotiate for markdown money before you place or order with a vendor, not afterwards.
  • Thoroughly train new staff before they are put on the sales floor, not afterwards.

The same actions can have entirely different results depending upon the time they are implemented. Thus, timing, planning and good implementation are paramount in achieving the desired results. 

It’s like baking a really good cake . . . well thought out ingredients and proper sequential mixing and cooking steps will produce the best tasting results.

This all sounds terribly basic, but candidly, I see timing blunders all the time with retailers. The primary cause is a lack of a well thought out and timed implementation plan for most all business activities. In the absence of an effective plan, your results will likely mirror the casualness of the plan.

Consider the act of soliciting additional discounts, free goods or advertising participation from one of your key vendors. Consider the timing here. If you ask for additional discounts or advertising money or similar financial help after you have already placed your large seasonal order, then you have lost the advantage.

In this example, in the alternative, meet with the vendor before placing the big order and explain your promotional plans, product representation on the sales floor and your anticipation for achieving a certain sales increase for the coming season. Also solicit their thoughts on the matter.

Then ask the vendor to join you in developing a joint promotion wherein both the vendor and your store will enjoy significantly escalated sales. Things that you might ask for are a special discount on the opening order, advertising participation, markdown money, stock rotation, special makeups or any other reasonable requests that equally benefit you and the vendor and that will augment sales and margins.

In order to maximize your efforts, sales and profits, in advance determine what has to be done, who will do it and within what time frame. Keep in mind, that the right thing to do but done at the wrong time may often produce negative rather than positive results. 

Remember, you should always be asking yourself “what has to be done, when should it be completed, who should do it and how far in advance should an implementation plan be successfully executed.”