Who is your project manager?” is one of the first questions I ask when I start working with a store on a design project. I’m often given a look that says, “What do you mean?
My friend Aaron likes to tell the story about how he arrived at a hotel and how they greeted him at the car. Shortly after, a staff member said, “Aaron, you’re a Manchester United fan, aren’t you?
Walking into a Whole Foods or a Loblaw’s is exciting for most people for so many reasons: the food smells simply incredible, the atmosphere is electric with the chatter of happy shoppers and the ring of the registers is almost soothing. These aren’t just circumstance - they are planned. Just like the floor you walk on and the perfectly lit product you race to.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of running a retail operation in the wellness industry in Canada is working with suppliers who have inconsistent or unsustainable pricing strategies.
The result is that retailers are left between a rock and a hard place and have to be very adept when setting their retail price. Just high enough to maintain margins, but low enough to retain credibility. Due to market conditions, online sales, and industry consolidation, this balance is and will become increasingly difficult.
One of the keys to a business’s success, and a factor that needs to be paramount in the success of many small businesses, is the ability to relate to customers and sell his products and services. While selling seems to come natural to a few people, to most of us entrepreneurs, it takes work and we need to understand that there is a science to it. Below are the steps to being successful in selling.
A manager of an independent natural food store, when her store was smaller, met individually with her department managers every week to talk about how things were going in the department. If this GM noted any performance issues in the department, she would bring them up in this meeting. She would ask if the manager wanted any help in strategizing how to address the issues. Sometimes they would go over “talking points” for the manager to use in a conversation with an employee.
For entrepreneurs without a strong financial background, the job of capital budgeting can seem overwhelming. Capital budgeting – essentially the process of deciding how to invest excess cash within a company on items that are not regular “operational” items – covers a wide range of activities, and can include everything from purchasing a new piece of equipment to making a substantial investment in capital assets for a new location.
You’ve been working on this project for several years. After overcoming every obstacle, putting up with countless delays, raising hundreds of thousands in financing, moving all your inventory, and staying up all night, you open the doors in your beautiful new store.
While the big push to get the new store open may seem like the hardest work you’ve ever done, a harder job lies ahead of you – getting through the next year or even two years. As a colleague of mine says, “You open the doors and then the hard work really begins.
In the world of retail marketing, there is a huge choice of media, strategies and techniques that a retailer has at his or her disposal to promote their store. Whether the objective is to create traffic with point-of-sale promotions, build the store brand or promote specific events… no matter the type of promotion, the tools available to reach the desired audience are collectively known as “the advertising mix.”
The concept of the advertising mix was developed in the early 1950’s. It is essentially a toolbox of different media and promotional techniques that a retailer chooses to fit the needs of their specific marketing objectives. For example, a retailer that has identified that their clientele are highly mobile, may decide to invest a portion of their marketing dollars into radio. It’s a great way to reach travellers – particularly to and from work – and it is an ideal media for high frequency and saturation. It is a very good fit for reaching this demographic.
Conversely, retailers drawing from a large geographic area may choose television for its vast coverage and multi-demographic reach. Retailers focused on specific age-groups or demographics may choose media or promotional techniques that are particular to those potential customers. Trying to reach seniors? Sponsor the weekly bingo or perhaps place ads in the senior’s newsletter. Promoting all-natural acne cream for teenagers? Try social media or on-line promotions. Over-stocked on protein powders and L-glutamine? Try a coupon campaign in conjunction with your local fitness club. Melatonin sales plateauing? Why not run ads after midnight on the local radio station? Trying to boost your cold and flu remedy sales? Perhaps a few well-placed ads on the Weather Channel will do the trick.
Each of these examples utilizes a specific advertising technique (or media) that is best suited to reach the desired audience. And each offers the optimum chance of capturing the attention of that market.
Since its inception, the advertising mix has evolved as the sophistication of the markets has intensified and as the number of promotional ‘tools’ has increased. For many years, newspaper, radio and television advertising were the stalwarts of the mix. Nowadays, a retailer can also utilize direct mail, couponing (with instant gratification via UPC scanning), live and video in-store marketing concepts, outdoor advertising, transit advertising, google ads, facebook, instagram, twitter and the whole realm of social media, websites, web sales and webinars, guerrilla marketing (flashmobs to promote your new location?), product placements, email campaigns, public relations (a column in your local newspaper is unbeatable), community outreach programs, award, team and event sponsorships, QR codes, branded store promotional items, free samples, and so on and so on.
Your ability to reach your market(s) – those groups of customers that make up the largest percentage of potential customers – will ultimately determine the techniques that will give you the best return on your investment. Choose wisely. But take note, everything you do to promote your store is a really good thing. Just do it, do it well and do it often. • by Doug Muldoon
Extensive research on job interviews shows that structured interviews are more accurate than unstructured ones in predicting which applicants will make good employees. By “structured,” researchers mean that the interviewer uses a consistent format with all candidates, asking the same questions in the same order.
With great fanfare and many friends and industry colleagues in attendance, Avril Supermarché Santé opened its first store in the Québec City region (Levis, QC) on May 27.
According to Avril, the 20, 000 square foot Levis store becomes the largest of its kind in the region and represents an investment of $4 million. Like its Brossard, Granby and Longueuil locations, it offers organic and natural products, fine grocery, local and gluten-free products, certified organic fruit and vegetables, natural supplements and vitamins, natural and organic cosmetics.
Dining options include the Avril Café with 60 seats, offering breakfast, a daily menu, a sandwich and salad bar, smoothies and a delicious selection of desserts and snacks. The first Crudessence counter in the Quebec City region offers organic, raw food.
Sylvie Senay and Rolland Tanguay, owners of the other three Avril Supermarché Santé stores, are the initiators of this project. “For a few years now, the people of the Québec region have been requesting a store through our website,” says Sylvie. “We noticed during Expo Manger Santé that the people of Quebec are aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.”
“We offer a 100 per cent healthy and natural alternative to traditional supermarkets,” added Rolland. •
1) There is warning. The stove radiates heat. You know what will happen if you touch it.
2) The burn is immediate. It doesn’t take two weeks for the stove to work up the courage to burn you.
3) The burn is consistent. Everyone who touches the stove gets burned every time. If you touch the stove, you can count on getting burned.
4) The stove is impersonal. The disciplinary action was taken against the act, not the person. The stove doesn’t hate you. It burned you because you touched it.
Let’s try this out. Alison is late again. Every day she clocks in three to five minutes after her shift starts. Today she showed up 20 minutes late, full of excuses. But you’ve heard these excuses before when she was 30 minutes late two weeks ago.
The Employee Handbook states:
“It is extremely important that you arrive at work on time. On time means that when your scheduled shift begins, you are in the store, punched in on the time clock, with appropriate employee identification on, and ready to work.
Habitual tardiness, or any single incidence of tardiness of 15 minutes or more, or failure to notify your supervisor or lead person in your department of your tardiness for work, will be subject to corrective action.”
You meet with her later that same day, show her the time clock records for the past two weeks, remind her of the verbal warning after her last lateness, and issue a written warning.
Other staff members with similar patterns of lateness have received similar warnings. You are not singling Alison out. You are not turning a blind eye toward others’ tardiness. You did not ignore the previous time she was late by more than 15 minutes, when you gave her a verbal warning.
You’re not angry with Alison. You hope she’ll succeed and continue working in your store.
Now let’s try another scenario. Zachary is friendly with customers but he gets into long conversations that don’t result in sales. This leaves co-workers to do his share of the stocking and receiving.
The performance appraisal form lists these criteria for evaluating efficiency:
a) Keeps focused on task at hand. Keeps busy during slow periods.
b) Balances friendliness with efficiency. Doesn’t let personal conversations keep customers or co-workers waiting.
c) Conscientious to needs of co-workers and flow of work.
d) Plans ahead and prioritizes the day's work.
It can take time to detect a pattern. The first time you observed everyone scrambling to unload a truck while Zachary conversed with a customer, you asked if he realized the impact on others. He apologized, but you haven’t noticed sustained improvement. At his performance review, you rate him “unsatisfactory” on b) and c) and “needs improvement” on a) and d). As a result, you withhold a pay increase with the offer of considering a non-retroactive raise in three months if his performance shows improvement.
No one else on staff is exhibiting the same performance problem as Zachary, but you have recently terminated one new employee during the trial period for “lack of hustle” and co-worker complaints about leaving tasks undone. You aren’t allowing others to slack off while singling out Zachary.
You’re disappointed in Zachary but your emotional response is moderate. You’re giving him a second chance.
Disciplinary action is never easy. But like a hot stove, at least you’re being fair. •
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