Mirror, Mirror…

Like most men, I want to preserve my good looks, flat stomach, and youthful appearance. But when I look in the mirror, a stranger is looking back at me. What I see is different from my perception of myself.

Have you checked your mirror lately?

To all of you who own, manage, or work in a tackle store, I can pretty much assure you that your mind’s image and your customers’ image of your store are not in sync.

Why is that? Why does our perception of our store not mirror what our store actually looks or performs like? Is it because we use defective mirrors, have significant sight problems, or are shielding ourselves from a reality we don’t like?

Part of the problem is that we’re too familiar with our own operations. We work hard every day and strive to do the best we can. But in retailing, working hard does not necessarily translate into working smart or profitably.

Let me also make another observation. “Great” does not necessarily mean “profitable.” While it’s true that great companies are typically profitable, profitable companies are not necessarily great. Profitability is a mathematical measurement over a defined period: sales, minus cost of goods sold, minus expenses. Greatness, on the other hand, is more of a qualitative assessment of a company’s core values, practices, and potential for sustained growth and profitability over the long term.

If retailers are to enjoy profits, growth, and longevity, then they should practice the principles of good profit management as well as emulate the common traits of greatness in business.

Have you explicitly expressed your core values and practices to your customers in writing and in deed? Have you communicated compliance instructions to your entire staff? It’s one thing for management to say “These are our values,” but if they are not communicated to consumers and staff alike, it’s of no value.

There must be a perpetual evaluation of the store’s pricing policies to ensure compliance and the efficacy of those policies. Are management, the buying staff, and the store staff in step with the written values and aspirations of the business? You can’t wish it so. You must make it so!

Have you established written performance metrics for sales, inventory turns, stockout percentages, margins, and vendor/class performance objectives? To merely say business is good or average in the absence of a comparison to a pre-determined performance goal is an inadequate assessment.

Is your store dynamic or static? If you just put the goods out, stack things neatly, and never again return to change the location or display, spruce up the signage, or take advantage of end caps and major traffic isles, then you are static. The same can be said of pricing. Change it periodically through price promotions and signage.

What does your company website say about your business? Does the presentation, selection, graphics, photography, pricing, and ease of site navigation augment sales or does your website merely exist to say, “we have a web presence?”

If you are selling essentially the same merchandise as your competitors, then you have not defined you point of difference. Make sure your pricing and product selections are equal to or better than that of your competitors, inclusive of Internet providers.

Is your inventory replenishment program sufficient to support your anticipated sales and to minimize stockouts? Do you periodically calculate your “service level” (i.e., what percentage of the time are you in stock on high demand items)? This crucial calculation is paramount in sustaining high sales and consumer allegiance.

Does your store offer companion support services such as extended warranties, instruction, delivery, handicap accessibility, “meet or beat” price guaranty, guiding service, instruction for kids or novices, etc.?

Is your sales staff trained in the art of selling and positive interaction with consumers? More plainly put, does you staff approach and offer assistance to store customers or are they left to meander around the store without any interaction from the “sales staff?”

Is there a commitment to maximum customer service, assistance, and satisfaction? Does management communicate these mandates to all store staff and is it monitored?

Remember that you reap what you sow. Look in the mirror!

Do you like what you see?

This article initially appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of Fishing Tackle Retailer.