In the Battle of Alesia, Julius Caesar besieged a fortified Gallic settlement in what is now modern France. He built a line of fortifications facing inwards towards Alesia to allow his armies to lay siege to the city, but he also built a line of fortifications facing outward in anticipation of Gallic reinforcements coming to lift the siege. In other words, Caesar planned ahead, thinking not just about his current objective, but about his next move, and the one after that.
Retail business owners, while probably not in the business of besieging fortresses, can nevertheless learn from this strategic example. It is important for any retailer to plan inward, to look at the current, pressing objectives of the business and make moves to enact them immediately. But it is just as important, if not more, for retailers to plan outward in time, considering objectives beyond the present and developing a strategy in anticipation of coming challenges. 'Challenges' often have a negative connotation, but for retail conquerors, those same challenges can offer big opportunities.
Think about your best sales season. Whether it's summer spending sprees, back-to-school sales, or the holiday season, most retail businesses have a time of year that stands out from the rest in terms of sheer sales volume. You love that boost in sales, of course, but are you truly maximizing it? Are you planning far enough ahead (and establishing the right kind of plans) to make the most of your biggest sales season? Let's explore a few ways you can ensure you do just that.
1 – Start Planning Now
Maybe your biggest sales season is in a month. Maybe it's in six months. Maybe you just finished it. Maybe you're in the midst of that season now. Whatever the case may be, it's never too early to start planning for your next season of sales.
A great way to start planning is by conducting a thorough review of your most recent big sales season. What worked? What didn't? What would you have done differently? Don't just think about the answers to those questions – write them down. Categorize them. Were they failures of execution or failures of planning? Put them in one of those buckets, and then examine the causes of each failure.
Why didn't you execute on your last plan? Was it too ambitious? Did you not have the right tools or well-positioned team members to pull it off? Think it through and analyze it deeply; your retail success could depend on your willingness to learn from your mistakes.
You are likely to find that examining what not to do informs what you should do next in many ways. If you don't have prior successes or failures to go on, build your plan from your goals and objectives and set realistic metrics of success.
In both cases, consider your key metrics carefully, and have good reasons for them. If you are going to judge your sales team by their success against those metrics, make sure they truly directly relate to the success or failure of your business.
2 – Lock Your Plan In Place
Once you have a plan written down, explain it in detail to your team. There is rarely a time when you can give your team members too much information about your business's goals and metrics for success. In fact, bringing them onboard with your plan can help them feel more confident and give them a greater sense of ownership in their roles.
Ensure your team members have the training they need to deliver on your key objectives. Never assume your team members know your thoughts or that they automatically have an understanding of how to do what you want them to do. You can have a brilliant strategy in mind, but if you don't communicate that clearly and effectively to your team, you'll never see it come to fruition.
3 – Use the Right Tools and Technology
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you and your team have the tools you need to deliver on your plan and maximize your sales during the most important part of the year for your business. A gap in your tool and technology arsenal could mean money walking out the door. Consider, for example, your consumer finance program. If you don't have an effective automation solution in place to help ease the finance application process for your customers and employees, capture critical reporting, and make the entire financing experience a good one for your customers and your team, you are likely to lose out on sales at some point, either immediately or through attrition of customer loyalty.
Take advantage of the FormPiper solution to give your team members the best chance of success when offering financing to your customers, to capture the data you need to plan and make adjustments, and to smooth over what can be a trying process for your customers. With a little bit of forethought and an adjustment to your strategy, you can make the most of what this comprehensive consumer finance solution has to offer and make your next big sales season your best and biggest yet.