Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

4 minutes reading time (826 words)

Make your health food store a winner

make your health store a winnerWhich silver car is it?  Tony Kibonge shouted, as I tagged a car and he raced by. This race to the silver car was a re-match of another race I had won one cold morning in Stuart Lake. We had raced through the water up to my chest and Tony’s neck!   While I had won both races, the truth of the matter is that Tony ­– who is 13 years old – is a much faster runner than I am.  In fact I think he might be one of the fastest 13 year olds in the country.  However, in both races, I made sure that I had distinct advantages. I really had no intention of losing, although in both races it was a real possibility.  More on that later.

But what about you? Are you intent on winning with your store? Do you have a strategy or are you going up against, quicker, faster, better competition and just hoping that you are going to win, without really even a hope?  So often we are going against competition that is so stiff that our goal is just to keep our heads above water and pay the bills. 

Give yourself an advantage

So why don’t we change the game?  When I raced against Tony Kibonge and his class the first time in a lake, I knew I had a clear advantage.  I knew that I weighed 100 lbs more and was a good eight inches taller than Tony and this would help me as I moved against the water in the lake to the finish line. In business, we often think that we have to run the race that our competitor has already established an advantage in.  I knew that if I was to race Tony in the 100, 200 or 400 meters that he so loves to race,  I would be left in the dust. So I don’t race those races.

In the health food business, we too need to change the odds so that they are in our favour. We need to think about what we are better at than our competition, both online and mass.  If our competition has better prices than us, then, we better focus in an area where we can add value and price is less of an issue.  This may be great service or exclusive products.  To distinguish ourselves, we need to really be different and find customers who are willing to pay for that difference.

Setting goals

And what does winning mean? In every race, there is a finish line and a goal that we are striving for. However, most small retail health food stores don’t have real goals. We are just plodding along hoping that our store is going to grow without having any real plans, any targets for sales or marketing, profit, or any other measurable outcome. 

If you would like to double your business in three to five years, you need to grow at 20 per cent a year.  So, how do we do that?

  1. The first step is to establish a goal and to write it down.  Put that goal up on a wall or white board – somewhere you will be reminded of it often and everyone on your team can see it. 

  For example, “Sales Target: by 2020, we will have two million dollars in sales.”  

  1. Pick a Strategy to Achieve Your Goal – It might take time to work this out with your team, but if you want to get people on board, you might want to include them in picking the best strategy. If you have a really small store, it might mean that you need to set time aside to put some thought into how your business will achieve the goal.  What specific customers are you going to go after? Where is the area that you are going to have a distinct advantage over your competition? Do you need to change your pricing model or your marketing strategies?
  1. Lay out some tactics to achieve the strategy. These might be things like: We are going to start putting on more seminars in the store; we are going to focus on brain health this year; I am going to spend 50 per cent of my time each week working on the business and getting more people in the store, and 50 per cent working on the floor. 
  1. Measure your progress.  Once you have started working towards your goals by implementing your strategies and tactics, you need to measure the progress and celebrate the wins. In the retail health business, we need to play to our advantage.  Just as I tried to beat Tony by setting the parameters of a race that I could win, you need to do the same thing with your business.

Focus only on areas where you have an advantage. Know where the finish line is, and celebrate each and every accomplishment. Make your health food store a winner! •

 

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