Stretch the bottom line

In any business, cash is king. Making, and keeping, that cash can be the problem. Follow these tips to make the most of your money.

savings

Ask for help. Delegating tasks in the most effective way is easier said than done, but it’s amazing how far a little reflection can go in your business. Take two weeks and keep a journal with everything you had to do that someone else could have done, and any question you had to answer that you shouldn’t have had to. After two weeks the answer to making the most of your time (and time is money) will be obvious.

Stick to your guns. The next time you budget, chose a dollar amount for every line item and then refuse to go over it. Download an app to help you stay on track—like Mint—that links to your bank account and shows where you’re spending your money. If you’ve never kept data on your expenses, be ready for a wake up call. Numbers don’t lie though, and sometimes a wake up call is necessary. The app will send you alerts when you’re approaching your budget and tell you when you’re spending too much on something.

Purge, baby, purge. After sticking to your budget, check for ways to cut costs. The ways you can save money begin to be pretty apparent after using a data-driven budgeting app; start making those changes effective immediately.

Weigh your UPS and FedEx packages. You’d be amazed when you start doing this yourself how much you’re overcharged. Of course this isn’t the only money saving tip, but as our stores are inventory-driven, this is one process you could add that may end up saving some big bucks.

Use your resources. Chances are you’re a member of a trade association, but when was the last time you logged in and checked out what options are available to you? Save (and actually read) the next email blast or promotion you receive from them as a reminder to take a minute and peruse new ways to use your association membership.

Take your time. Money can be one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of our lives. If you’re hesitant about making any of these changes, sleep on it. If when you wake up (and after you’ve weighed your options) you realize the pros are greater than the cons, follow through. Change isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it saves you hard-earned cash.

money money.jpgIf you have had any success making a change in your business, and reaped the benefits financially, we’d love to hear about it! Contact American Quilt Retailer through our Facebook page today.


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Affordable Foot Traffic

Affordable foot traffic—is that even a thing? And what does it even mean? If you want to increase your foot traffic without breaking the bank, follow these suggestions.

  1. Ask yourself one question: what is one thing my business could to to _______? Then answer that question honestly.
  2. The second step is to fill in that blank! What is one thing my business could do to increase foot traffic? Host an event! When you answer that question honestly, you’ll probably come up with an event that you would want to attend if it wasn’t your store. Don’t forget to think outside the box, the event should attract a new demographic and offer a sale. And since events are low budget the biggest resource you’ll use is the time it takes to plan it.
  3. Use social media. Email blasts should be sent every 15 days, and budget to spend at least $2 a day on Facebook ads.
  4. Offer coupons. Coupons are different then sales, every store can offer a sale. Set yourself apart by using coupons; statistics show 96% of consumers use coupons and 85% of consumers look for coupons before visiting a store. The more you know!
  5. Last but not least, put time and effort into your store display— it is more important than many business owners realize. The display can also be one of the most fun parts of running a store, so have fun with it!

foot traffic

All of these things take advanced planning, so be sure to include these topics in your company meetings. Not to use one liners, but these are tried and true statements: remember, more hands make light work and the early bird gets the worm.


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Small Business Advertising

Each day we are inundated with advertisements, for things we need (and maybe things we don’t need), on more platforms than I’m sure any advertising professional ever thought possible. With all the options it’s hard to decide which to chose. Use these tips below to help you with the process.

Advertising is a much more complex process than people outside the industry would think. The first step to making sure your dollars spent are worthwhile is by knowing your audience. Chances are, you fit into your audience! Think about where you like to shop, what social media you enjoy, or something you saw and you immediately thought, “I want that!” Make a list of these outlets and start there.

The next step is narrowing your list; chose a couple options in your list and focus on advertising within them well. Once you have your outlets chosen, determine how you’re going to measure analytics. Today, with online advertising, sites like Facebook make it easy. There are other effective ways to advertise however (like billboards, trade show advertisements, and radio) that are harder to measure. Include promo codes or “Tell the clerk you heard it on fill-in-the-blank” to help measure this efficiency. And of course, ask friends and trade club members for their input on your advertisement as well.

Knowing when to advertise is the biggest move you can make to get the furthest reach. Things like sales, new products, employees, or partnerships, are wonderful reasons to advertise. If your business is at capacity, then wait until you have some breathing room to start an advertising campaign.

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Making your advertisement look good is not as fun as creatives would like to think. Chances are your business has a “look” also known as a brand. When it comes to advertising you don’t want to stray too far from that look; the more your customers associate the copy, font choice, and colors in the advertisement with your business, the better your sales will be (this just means you’re advertising well!)

Advertising isn’t on the forefront of every small business’s budget, but once you start you realize it should have been. Using these tips can help you get the most bang for your buck — and to know how to prepare for that next advertising move.


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What’s in stock?

Inventory management. What a scary phrase, right? And when spoken as a task it can sound even worse.

But all business owners know how important inventory management can be. How is anyone supposed to know how much of a new product a business should order? Being small business owners makes these processes a little harder when time is already thin.

For those of you who don’t know, inventory management is the process of tracking assets and stock items. Inventory management follows the flow of goods from the moment you order product from a manufacturer to delivery to your local store and finally to the point of sale.

The goal is to keep as good of records as possible for each new and returned item in your store.

Inventory management

Building your own excel sheet is a good start for keeping track of your inventory. Another way to make the numbers more personal is by including the cost of the inventory in the spreadsheet as well.

Stock review is an important manual step in the inventory management process; simply analyze what’s on hand versus what you will need in the future. Of course you can always order product for a customer if they request it; but isn’t it handy for both of you when it’s already in supply?

Another plus of inventory management is that the process forces you to keep records; be sure to review these records once a year to know your best selling products during certain seasons. This can also help with new product predictions too. Keep in mind the ABC system when you’re doing this to keep you focused and organized, where

  • A equals high-value, low quantity goods,
  • B equals moderate value, moderate quantity goods, and
  • C equals low value, high quantity goods.

There are systems in place now to help with the financial side of inventory as well. Since each business owner has their own personal preference, I recommend this article that may help you make the best decision for yourself on what system to purchase.

Once you get this system in place, it can help you determine your reorder point and the amount of stock you want to keep on hand. Knowledge is power, and the more quality data you have on your inventory can save you time and money.


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Top Notch Customer Service

No matter what your resolution is, for your life or for your business, exceptional customer service should be a priority for your business. Below are some tips to ensure you’re offering the best service you can.

  1. Greet customers with a smile. When selling to strangers, a proper greeting is a must to get that sale. You have 60 seconds to make an impression and every second counts. Not only does it show you’re happy to be there, but you also confirm their time is valuable to you. Starting with a smile can help the conversation that follows.
  2.  Be mindful of pronouns. The most common misused pronoun is “guys.” Instead, ask the customers name and use memory hacks to help you remember it. Whether you associate the name to a friend who has the same one, or with a rhyme that will help trigger your memory, knowing a customers name can go a long way into making them feel appreciated.
  3. Be present. Ask how you can help, and stay within the customer’s sight. If the phone rings during a conversation, the person in front of you takes precedence. If a customer approaches you, stop what you’re doing. At the same time, be mindful of the customers who are consuming too much of your time and honor everyone in the store who may need your assistance.
  4. Go above and beyond. If a customer wants something out of stock, go to the storage room and check your inventory. If that item is still out, offer to order it for the customer. Never use the words “I don’t know,” unless you’re also going to say that you will find out. And no matter how busy you may be, don’t talk about wanting to go on break.
  5. Be tactful. If a card is declined, ask if they would like to use another form of payment. Haste makes waste; spend your time with each customer. Check the items before the customer leaves the store for any damage, and make sure the customer has everything they purchased too. Ask for help when you need it, and don’t forget to smile and thank the customer as they leave your store.

What can often seem as common sense is easy to get lost in the everyday hustle of being a business owner. Start the New Year strong by building and keeping relationships with the people who keep our businesses running.

business conversation


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.