Kelly Sharp is the owner of Heart of Iowa Market Place.
With Christmas still a week away, it’s pretty difficult for small retailers to start thinking about what to do when the rush is over. The truth is, every owner and employee of a small retail business should be more focused than ever on delivering quality customer service right up to the minute the lights go out on Christmas Eve.
When the lights come back on next Friday morning, though, smart retailers are going to have an eye on the year ahead even as they handle the usual number of returns and welcome post-Christmas bargain hunters. They're also going to be focused on the year that's almost over.
The weeks right after Christmas are the perfect time to evaluate the five P’s – products, people, pricing, planning and process.
Which products sold? And which ones didn’t? Which ones sold out? And did you lose revenue by not having enough of those items in stock? Take some time to pinpoint the reasons why certain products sold or didn’t. Did you overstock or under-stock? Do you make the most effective use of sampling?
Did you price products too low or too high? Did your pricing provide you with a solid profit margin? Did you actually make any money?
Did your people meet or exceed your expectations? Do they need more training? Or do they deserve a bonus?
Did you have the right plan for the holiday season? And did you execute it properly with the right ordering, marketing, display, packaging and staffing processes?
Take time as you go along the next few weeks to write down what worked, what didn’t and why. A year from now you may remember what you did, but you may not remember if it was a success or not. Get rid of any inventory that’s just taking up space by sampling it and putting it on clearance as quickly possible.
It’s also the right time to follow up with key clients and new customers so you can thank them for their business.
And, finally, when that’s all done – take a deep breath and relax. You’ve earned it.