Counselling small business retailers through the challenge of employee theft

It is difficult hearing an adult cry on the other end of the phone when you pick up the call expecting it to be a regular business to business discussion. This time was different. Their story was one of hurt and pain, considerable financial hurt and considerable personal pain. They were distressed. They did not see how they could go on with business, they were so upset.

Our job in the call was to empathise and support, to not judge and to help them navigate next steps in what was a complex and unexpected situation.

The person on the other end of the phone was a retailer using our POS software. They called because they had just discovered an employee theft situation. While they knew they had tools in their POS software for early intervention on employee theft, they had not used them, until now, following a suspicion.

It turned out their suspicion was wrong. The person stealing from them was their most trusted employee, a family friend.

The first few calls with the customer about this were about them, about our customer, helping them navigate their own distress, so they could continue to function, to keep their business going, while they did what was necessary to have the theft dealt with formally by the authorities.

In addition to structured advice on handling any discovered employee theft, we provide help and support personally for the business owner, to help them personally deal with the violation they feel because of the theft.

We help the business owner(s) personally in several ways. These including pointing them to professional counselling services, physically being with them in the business when taking steps to deal with the theft, doing independent research on the theft so the authorities have the evidence they will need, being a pillar of support and strength for the retailer, ensuring they know we have their back and that how they feel right now will pass as they step through dealing with this.

While we are not professionally trained counsellors, we have been involved is supporting retailers from many different businesses in navigating the discovery and management of employee theft. We take care to support the person first, to ensure they are okay and reinforce that they will be okay. We help them as they pass through emotions ranging from hurt, anger, despair and hate. We take their hand and offer ourselves as a pillar of strength.

We do this because we have been there ourselves, in our own retail businesses over the years. We draw on our own experiences as we find this helps.

Practical advice for new small business retailers

If you are new to owning or running a retail business it is likely that you have been too busy opening the business and settling in to have time to pay attention to basic advice about running the business.

Business consultants and others who advise business owners, too, often get caught up in big picture strategies and themes to deal with the basics.

In the interests of helping new retailers and retail shop mangers, here is a checklist of basic retail business advice, headlines mainly – not too much detail, just enough to remind you of key areas which need attention to build a stronger and more profitable retail business.

This checklist has been developed over the years of us supporting plenty of start-up small business retailers. The list is based on things we often see them neglect or forget.

We have grouped the advice into business areas.

Hiring, training and managing employees

  1. Create an employee manual with all employee terms and conditions.
  2. Hire the best employees available.
  3. Train your employees well. Do this by working with them, taking them into your confidence about the business, what it stands for and what you expect of them.
  4. Pay employees in a way which respects your faith in them.
  5. Share the rewards you make from the business.
  6. Remember, you are more responsible for employee performance than anyone since it is usually you who hire, train, manage and fire them.

Cash

  1. Cash is king in retail. An unprofitable business with a good cash flow can weather a storm.  A profitable business with poor cash flow can fail.
  2. Have a strong cash management policy.
  3. Bank regularly.
  4. Keep little cash on the premises.
  5. Never let one single employee control the cash. Have checks and balances.
  6. Keep expenses to an absolute minimum.
  7. Watch your product margins, make the most from each product you sell that you can without hurting sales.

Inventory

  1. Buy what sells.
  2. Use your software to determine replenishment stock.
  3. Never sell anything without tracking it.

Marketing

  1. Use all the free touchpoints: receipts, customer display and more in your software.
  2. Use social media, daily.

Operating costs

  1. Be frugal.
  2. Know dead stock as this is too often a big overhead.

Your time

  1. Automate as much as you can.
  2. Know how to get data to guide decisions.
  3. Delegate, with rules.

Too often new retailers and retail store managers look for advice to react to situations.  Consider the headline advice in this article early on and revisit it regularly to ensure that you have a strong and healthy business.

How the Tower Systems POS software helps small business retailers compete with big retailers

Tower Systems has the back of small business retailers.

We believe in their value economically and socially to Australia and Australian families.

Small businesses matter.

They give people their start in work.

They are an excellent training ground.

They often pay more tax as a percentage of income than big business.

They serve local communities.

They provide a level of personal service you rarely see in big business.

Here at Tower Systems we only sell our POS software to small business retailers. For the reasons we outline here. This has always been the case with us. We don’t chase big business customers.

Being small business focussed means our customers can trust that we have their backs in our services and in our software. This gives them confidence that the software they purchase from us is for their size and type of business. It means they are not using software that a big competitor also uses. This plays to their point of difference.

Here is what is different for our customers, by purchasing software from our small business focussed POS software company:

  1. Tower customers have a terrific say in the evolution of our software thanks to a unique transparent process accessible to all customers.
  2. Tower customers know the names of each person they speak with.
  3. Our phones are answered by humans.
  4. Tower customers can speak with anyone on our leadership team, directly.
  5. Easy access to unlimited training opportunities.
  6. Accessible user meetings.
  7. Small business marketing advice.
  8. Small business management advice.
  9. Small business support.
  10. Employee theft assistance.

Tower Systems is a small business focussed POS software company. As our motto says, we’re here to help.

How our POS software helps small business retailers reduce the cost of dead stock

Dead stock is dead money for small business retailers. Too often we see businesses where buying mistakes have been made and action has not been taken to correct the situation.

Using our POS software, small business retailers can make better buying decisions. They can buy based on evidence, hard data showing what works, hard data showing exactly what they need to satisfy demand, based on past performance data.

Small business retailers who buy by the numbers, who buy based on data, are less likely to have dead stock challenges in their businesses.

Here at Tower Systems we provide the software with tools to reduce the incidence of dead stock. We back the software with practical advice and help for our small business customers on how to actually use the tools.

It is one thing to sell someone a hammer and another thing entirely to show how to best use the hammer for safety and efficiency. That is what we do but here the hammer is our smart POS software.

Our goal is to stop the dead stock problem before it is a problem, before the business purchases stock. This can be done as we can show in many businesses with which we engage regularly today. We can show it in our own shops where we use our advised principles to reduce the incidence of dead stock and thereby save the businesses significant costs compared to others.

We work with retailers, retail business employees and suppliers on a range of tech and business solutions to ensure that dead stock is minimised, to provide commercially sound outcomes for small business retailers such that the cost of dead stock reduces in businesses with which we engage.

Our POS software is part of the solution. Training is another. Business management processes are another. Together we combine these and offer our partner small business retailers a solution on which they can rely to achieve better outcomes for themselves and their businesses.

The how, the real nuts and bolts of how are a discussion for a more private place as it is part of our IP, something that separates us in how we have the retailers who use our POS software and who rely on our support and business assistance services.

Helping small business retailers relax when feeling overwhelmed

Through its help for small business retailers, POS software company Tower Systems helps beyond the software, beyond what is usual for a POS software company.

The most recent help has been through practical advice on how to deal with feeling overwhelmed…

If you feel overwhelmed and can’t work out what to do, reach for this list and try one of the practical and safe ideas. They cost nothing.

The goal is to help you see small steps you can take to walk through whatever it is that makes you feel overwhelmed.

  1. Go for a 5k or longer walk outside, alone. Not a stroll, but a walk, at pace if possible. Unplugged, no phone, no music.
  2. Establish rituals for your day. How you start your day, how you end your day, lunchtime, bed time. For example, starting with breakfast, and a nice tea or coffee could be the calm start to the day you need.
  3. Have apps on your phone that are fun and you enjoy. Play one of these for a while to take your mind off things. It is amazing how our mind helps us resolve things when we turn away from those things.
  4. Learn meditation. From simple controlled breathing to yoga, meditation can be a perfect reset from a busy and overwhelming day.
  5. Play Scrabble through Facebook on your computer. You can play anytime with someone you have never met and will never speak to.
  6. Draw, even if you think you can’t. If you are not sure what to draw, draw why you feel overwhelmed.
  7. Write. Anything but you could try writing on the page about what it is that you think makes you feel overwhelmed.
  8. Talk. We are good listeners.
  9. Three-count breathing. Inhale for three counts. Hold for three counts. Exhale for three counts. Do this for, say, ten rounds. Then increase the count. The rhythmic nature of this and concentration can help you see ahead.
  10. Earth. Go to the beach, a park, your backyard and take your shoes and socks off and put your feet on the ground.
  11. Watch. Go to a playground and watch kids play. If there is a local sports game on near you, go watch that.
  12. Start a journal. Write in it every day.
  13. Be clear to yourself when the day is done. While it is tough in small business to turn off, have a threshold so that once you cross it, you have turned off and the time is yours.
  14. Find a quiet place, put on headphones connected to a music source and listen to your favorite album of all time, with the volume turned up and a do not disturb sign on the door.
  15. Get away to a safe place and write a note to your overwhelmed self. Give yourself honest advice you’d give your best friend if they came to you with the feelings you have.

If you are struggling beyond what these suggestions can help with, consider speaking with your GP about a mental health plan. This provides access to medical professionals who can help you more effectively deal with what it is that leads you to feel overwhelmed.

Tower Systems develops and supports small business POS software. Our advice and help often reaches beyond what is usual for a POS software company. www.towersystems.com.au

Advice for small business retailers on leveraging the teacher gift opportunity

This is another in our series of practice advice for small business retailers.

How to make the most of the teacher gift opportunity.

Gifts for teachers can be lucrative not only at the end of the year but also through the year by establishing your business as a destination for gifts for teachers. As with much in retail, it takes a commitment of time, space and capital.

While you can make money sourcing a teacher pack from a supplier, you will make more by taking a broader approach.

Our advice is that you offer a selection of gifts for teachers including the traditional plaques, mugs, apple-themed, frames and pens but this you expand the offer to include other suggested gifts such as scarves, Charlie Bears, soap, fudge, plush, jigsaw puzzles and other premium gifts.

Don’t be restricted by the traditional teacher gifts. Also, don’t be restricted by a price point. We suggest you show how two or more students could pool funds to buy a bigger gift such as a jigsaw puzzle. Show your customers how they can do this. For example: $19.99 or $10 each if two of you share giving this gift.  Maybe even consider a whole of class gift.

Promote the broader range of gifts with an appropriate sign such as: GIVE SOMETHING THAT WILL ACTUALLY BE USED.

Have your suggested gifts represented together in a location branded as gifts for teachers.

Be sure to include cards in your range – Thank You cards and blank cards. Consider packaging selected gifts and cards together to make buying easy.

Also consider a discount if customers purchase above a threshold for multiple teachers. For example, you could offer 10% off for purchases of $25.00 or more. Choose a spend hurdle that suits your area.

Marketing and promotion tips:

  1. Offer a $50 shopping voucher for one lucky teacher. To get an enter customers should purchase a card and gift from you.
  2. Include a flyer with all purchases announcing your teacher gift range.
  3. Leverage the local parents association to have them help you promote the offer. Consider having them hand out a coupon offering 5% off for purchases a 5% to them for each coupon redeemed.
  4. Setup a THANK YOU TEACHER WALL where anyone can write a note thanking their teacher – from any generation or year.
  5. Maybe run a Teacher of the Year competition where students vote. This could work well in a smaller location. However be careful as it could be seen as divisive if not done well.

Australian newsagency sales performance benchmark study results

For fifteen years, Tower Systems has published quarterly sales performance benchmark results based on accurate data from a broad cross-section of retail newsagency businesses.

This study is the most comprehensive even for the newsagency channel. Here is the latest report, for the April – June quarter of 2017 compares to 2016 on a same store basis.

The April – June quarter was tough for core products sold through the newsagency channel. In addition to the continuing decline in print media sales, this quarter’s benchmark results reveal a troubling downturn in lottery revenue as well as card revenue.

Here are the headline numbers by key product category:

  1. Magazine unit sales declined 11%.
  2. Greeting card revenue declined 4%.
  3. Lottery revenue declines 4%.
  4. Newspaper unit sales declined 12%.
  5. Gift revenue increased by 11%.
  6. Toy revenue increased by 16%.
  7. Stationery revenue declined 8%.

These are not good headline numbers. The bottom is falling out of the historic core of the newsagency channel. This will not be news to many as it continues a trend we have seen in this benchmark study for several years.

The above percentages reflect the overall performance of the 181 newsagency businesses in this benchmark study. It includes stores from a range of banner groups as well as independents. There are large businesses and small. Some are in shopping centres while others are on then high street. The cross-section is broad.

What is concerning is the pace of decline, especially with magazines as the decline had slowed recently. Looking more closely at the data, the decline is in the volume categories. Fringe categories such as special interest titles are doing well. Indeed, some segments show terrific growth.

Newsagents need to manage the overhead cost of newspapers and magazines. Labour, space and capital investment needs to be kept in line with the gross profit contribution of these categories. Busy work relating to newspapers and magazines should be eliminated.

The decline in greeting card revenue is a surprise. The reported percentage of decline, 4%, does not read well. However, like all the above data points, it is an average from the entire data pool. There are stores experiencing decline above 20% with others reporting growth above 20%. There is a clear correlation between stores with strong gift sales and card performance – in this case card revenue is stronger.

GOOD NEWS.

The good news is the performance of businesses playing outside the traditional space. For example, the newsagency with $25,000 in toy revenue in the quarter, reflecting growth of 18% or the newsagency with $45,000 in gift revenue and year on year growth of 22% of the newsagency with card revenue of $47,000 and year on year growth of 22%.

There are many good news stories in the latest study results. However, the good news will be overshadowed by the performance of the majority. It is challenging, some days, to know what to do or say to cut through with newsagents who are not engaged.

Too many newsagents think growth will come from categories close to what they have done historically. For example, too many get into cheap social stationery thinking that is competitive with Kikki.K or Typo.

My experience is the best growth comes from turning away from traditional lines and traditional suppliers and going with products and price points you would never have considered for a newsagency business. I see this approach working well in the benchmark results in businesses of different sizes and in different situations.

OVERALL PERFORMANCE DATA.

  1. Customer traffic. 78% of newsagents report average decline of 5%.
  2. Overall sales. 53% reported an average revenue decline of 3%.
  3. Basket depth. 61% report a 2% decrease in basket size.
  4. Basket dollar value. 63% report a decrease in basket value of 3%.

It is in the overall business gross profit numbers where the differences in businesses can be seen. 62% sit in the traditional newsagency GP performance band of 28% – 30%. 7% sit below 28%. 20% sit in the GP band of 30% and 35%. 7% sit between 35% and 40%. The rest, 4%, have a GP of more than 40%.

GP is a function of what you stock and the type of shoppers you attract to the business. Buying is where it starts.

WHAT IS DRIVING THE DECLINES?

Close to 80% of the businesses in the benchmark reported a decline in traffic with the average decline set at 5%. However, just over half reported a decline in revenue. This is because plenty are selling higher priced items, usually gifts. This softens the blow of the decline in legacy products.

I think the traffic decline is being driven by a decline in interest in legacy products on which traditional newsagency businesses have relied. I have said for years it is crucial newsagents have a strategy to drive net new traffic. Relying on legacy product to sell new products is not a plan. You need to source new products and to use these to attract people to your business who would otherwise not have shopped with you.

HOW TO RESPOND TO TRAFFIC DECLINES?

Any newsagency business can be successful, regardless of location and situation. This is truer today than at any time in the past thanks to what we can see being achieved online – not only in newsagency businesses but through other retail channels.

The key to success is to not run the business as a newsagency. That’s is, to not obsess about legacy products. Focus on new traffic products. Focus on price points you would usually say would never work in your business. Buy products you think will never work. Be radical and through discover what is possible in your business.

I urge you to ask yourself daily, what have I done today to reach a new shopper, someone who does not know we exist? This is what successful businesses in the benchmark study are doing and doing well.

DOES THE NEWSAGENCY CHANNEL HAVE A FUTURE?

I ask this every quarter. My answer remains – Yes! Absolutely. If you are prepared to shrug off what has been traditional for a newsagency business, stop hoarding, embrace change and embrace social media – you can have a bright future. The transformation from traditional to the new world must be urgent and dramatic.

AGENCY IS OVER.

My opinion remains – there is no upside in any agency parts of the business. People saying they are proud to be called a newsagent are entitled to their view. History will show that era is behind us.

OPTIMISTIC.

I am optimistic for my own newsagency businesses and for the businesses of many newsagents. Indeed, I have opened a new outlet the last few months. It does not look or feel like a newsagency. The numbers are terrific.

WHY I DO THIS STUDY

My interest in the study is as a newsagent and as a supplier to the channel through Tower Systems and through newsXpress. I want the channel to grow for selfish reasons and because it has been my life since 1981. I am invested.

BENCHMARK GOALS.

I am often asked for benchmark goals newsagents ought to aim for. Here are some benchmarks I have developed in my work with newsXpress and through Tower Systems:

  1. Gross profit: this is the goal gross profit for all product sales not taking into account any revenue or costs related to any agency business. The traditional newsagency average sits at 28% to 32%. For a newsagency focused on the future, the goal has to be at least 45%.
  2. Ratio of Gift revenue to Card revenue: 50% minimum. The goal ought to be 100% or more. If you do $100K a year in cards, target to do $100K in gifts, or more.
  3. Revenue per employee – $250 an hour minimum not including agency revenue. This is a contentious KPI. If you think it is not for you, work the numbers back and see what your number needs to be based on each labour hour in the business.
  4. Revenue PSQM $4,500 – $8,500 depending on country vs. city / high street to shopping centre and depending of product mix. Higher GP lower revenue required.
  5. Overall revenue mix percentage targets: Cards: 25%; Gifts/toys/plush: 25%; Stat: 10%; magazines/newspapers: 20%; other: 15%.
  6. FLOORSPACE ALLOCATION: Cards: 25%; Gifts/toys/plush: 25%; Stat: 8%; magazines/newspapers: 15%; other products: 15%; office/back room / counter: 12%. It’s rare you make money from an office or store room.
  7. Mark-up goals: Stationery: 125%; Gifts 110%; plush: 110%.
  8. Occupancy cost: between 9% and 11% of revenue where revenue is product revenue plus commission from agency lines. Location and situation are a big factor in this benchmark. For example, a large shopping centre business will have a higher cost than a high street situation.
  9. Labour cost: between 9% and 11% of revenue where revenue is product revenue plus commission from agency lines. Labour cost should include fair market costs for all who work in the business. (See above).

Mark Fletcher.
Email: mark@towersystems.com.au  Website: www.towersystems.com.au  Blog: www.newsagencyblog.com.au
M | 0418 321 338

Footnote: I founded Tower Systems in 1981. That company now serves in excess of 1,750 newsagents as customers with its newsagency software. In 2005, I joined newsXpress. That newsagency marketing group now serves 243 retail businesses with a traffic and revenue growth strategy.

Helping small business retailers quit dead stock with best-practice advice

In our weekly customer support email to our small business POS software users we include everyday business management advice.

We are grateful for customer feedback on the practical tips we provide and for suggestions on new topics se can cover.

Here is recent advice we shared with our customers on quitting dead stock.

If you want to quit stock, quit it, quickly. Quickly means different things to different people. We think it means 7 days … gone and out of the shop in 7 days from when you decide to quit the products.

The easiest way to quit stock is for your shoppers to understand the deal. Understanding the deal starts with how you brand the sale.

A sign with SALE on it could mean anything. We suggest you NOT use this.

A sign with, say, 50% off could be confusing as they don’t know the starting price and some may not understand percentages.

A Sign with HALF PRICE is more easily understood but they still do not know the starting price.

If you really want to quit stock, we suggest you have tables or dump bins at price points: $1, $2, $5 – or that ever is appropriate to you.

We have tested this. We have tried $9.99 priced an item at 50% off, half price and $5.00. The $5.00 pricing worked the best, by far.

This is our recommendation on quickly quitting stock: get the price messaging right.

If your price messaging is hard to understand or if there are too many different price messages you could be creating a barrier and this could stop you achieving the sales outcome you want.

Also: display the product for a sale. i.e. not pretty. Reorganise it daily. Keep it separate to the premium merchandise.

This advice in another example of how Tower Systems helps small business retailers beyond our POS software and the support you may expect from a company like us.

We love helping small business retailers save time, make money and enjoy their businesses more. These are core goals of our Australian POS software business. They reflect what we call the Tower AdvantageTM.

Free marketing resources for small business retailers

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 8.10.20 amTower Systems has added to free marketing resources for small business retailers. New digital art is being loaded to our website for small business retailers to download and print and to load into digital marketing platforms.

This latest collateral from our in-house creative team is themed to provide retailers more options for pitching their businesses.

We are grateful to the encouraging feedback from small business retailers – customers and not – who are using the facilities we have created and made available through our website. This feedback is what has encouraged us to do even more.

Tower Systems provides access to these free marketing resources without asking for any details – making the resources genuinely free.

Small business retailers love the new look and feel of our website

As part of the continuous evolution of our online presence, we released enhancements to our website several weeks ago including new inspirational images.

Too often we see POS software4 companies focussing on technology ahead of people. Our view here at Tower Systems is that people come first as they are the focus of all we do through our software and the services we provide support in the software.

Th feedback from our customers following the latest evolution has been terrific. Thank you!

Small business retail management advice – how to prepare your retail business for sale

Selling a an independent retail business is like selling a house, you need to prepare it so that it looks appealing to prospective purchasers.

The process of preparing a business for sale can take time, depending on the state of the business. It needs to start early and based on comprehensive planning.

Here is an overview of our advice and to what a small business retailer needs to do.

  1. Maximise profit. What anyone will pay will depend on the profitability of the business. While you should be on this every day, if it is a new project for you, start six months prior to putting the business on the market.
  2. Eliminate dead stock. It looks bad on the shelves and looks bad on the books. Purchasers should not pay full wholesale for inventory more than six months old as your poor buying or management is not their obligation.
  3. Streamline operations. Make the business look easy to run by ensuring it is easy to run for you. The easier it looks to run the more interesting to people who don’t understand the business.
  4. Make the business look appealing. Ensure displays are stunning, the shelves full and every pitch the very best you can make. You want them to want your business because they like it.
  5. Be happy. Owners who talk their business down will find it harder to sell the business. If you are complainer, keep it to yourself or in the family.
  6. Keep your social media presence up to date. Today, many people check out a business online prior to looking at it in-store. Maintain up to date Facebook and other social media presences.
  7. Choose your broker carefully.
  8. Get your paperwork in order. Early on, get business documents together and check:
    1. Premises lease.
    2. Equipment lease documents.
    3. Franchise document.
    4. Supplier agreements.
    5. Details of any forward orders.
    6. Any other documents relating to the operation of the business including manuals for any equipment items.

Success at selling your business depends in part on the work you do to prepare it for sale. Extra focus now can help you get timely price satisfaction.

This is another way Tower Systems helps small business retailers.

Why my software company is not embracing the new lower Sunday penalty rates in our own retail business

Tower Systems owns and operates retail businesses in part to provide us with practical experience on which we can draw to provide better software support experiences for our small business retail customers.

Here are my reasons, as owner of the company, for deciding to not embrace the Sunday penalty rates decision in my retail businesses:

  1. I value my employees. To pay them less as a result of the decision could suggest to them they are worth less. I have hated it when suppliers reduced margin or commission and argued then that they value me and my business less.
  2. I want to be competitive for good labour. Paying a competitive rate is key to this.
  3. The business reward. It is open to employees who are now told their pay will not be cut to return the favour to the business.
  4. Competition. A range of competitor business have made a similar announcement.
  5. While of economy fairness. While I agree with the decision, it should only be taken as a whole of economy review that fairly adjusts economic touch-points for all and not only salaried workers.
  6. Weighing everything up it is the right thing to do.

This is not a permanent decision. It is possible I will modify my position as the marketplace situation evolves. If I did and thereby embraced a saving in labour costs, I anticipate through would be invested in more hours.

All business owners need to reach their own conclusions on this matter. Unfortunately, as a country we are bereft of leadership on broader issues that should be confronted in any economic setting adjustment as has been done with Sunday penalty rates.

Mark Fletcher
Managing Director.

Five free to implement marketing tips that will work for any small business retailer

Each of these five small business marketing tips has worked in a variety of retail businesses. They are fast to implement, easy to implement and are cost free based on the success they generate for small business retailers.

We have developed these five ideas through our many years only serving small and independent retail businesses. They are the best, easiest and fastest to engage:

  1. Immediate rewards. On your receipts. $$$. This gets shoppers spending more per visit. With the right settings, over the counter pitch and policies you can expect double digit growth for little effort. This loyalty program is a game changer for independent small retail businesses in that big businesses will not follow you, they will not be able to match what you pitch. This sets you apart. It excites shoppers and that is what drives the value you get from the program. We have it running in many hundreds of small retail businesses.
  2. Email marketing. Capture email addresses and email shoppers to pitch offers tuned to their interests. With an average response of 30% to the right pitch you can drive repeat visits.
  3. Product knowledge. Share this in receipts, automatically served based on products in a purchase. Shoppers will appreciate your help and extra-mile assistance. This is a perfect way to pitch one of your points of difference.
  4. Change the price narrative. If you have a nearby competitor, make price comparison difficult through multi-buy or BOGO pricing. Both are supported in our software. Make price comparison hard and increase sales as a result, of a perception of value.
  5. Smart placement. Your existing data can indicate what is best placed with what in your business. Leverage this data, make better placement decisions and increase sales. The deep dive basket analysis data insights can change your approach to product placement and increase shopper efficiency as a result.

Tower systems serves only independent small retail businesses in selected product niches. This is our mission and we are grateful every day for the opportunity.

Small business retail advice: make every day your pay day

There was a time when small business retailers could rely on selling their business for a handsome increase on the price they paid thereby providing a good pay day, when businesses sold for a good multiple of net earnings.

No more. Today, the best way to extract value from our businesses is to make every day your pay day, to not rely on your pay day being the day you sell the business.

The challenge is how do you do this?
Retailers need to look at their businesses differently. This starts with the mindset of every

day being your pay day. Each decision needs to be considered in this context.

Focusing on profit today will give you a better result today and make your business more valuable tomorrow.

Here are some suggestions for making every day your pay day:

  1. Run with the leanest roster possible. Just about every retail business we review has capacity to lower labour costs.
  2. Have your best people working the floor, helping customers spend more.
  3. Have stunning displays that attract people from outside the shop.
  4. Have compelling displays in-store that encourage people to browse beyond their destination purchase.
  5. Always have impulse offers at high traffic locations.
  6. Charge more every time you can. Loyalty programs such as discount vouchers, bundling into hampers, multi buys such as 2 for 3 and other opportunities enable you to do this by blocking price comparison.
  7. Buy as best you can.
  8. Grab settlement discounts every time you are able.
  9. Promote outside your store using online and social media opportunities.
  10. Leverage adjacency information. Chase a deeper basket – people purchasing more each visit.

Be responsible for the profitability of your business. Don’t blame your suppliers, your landlord, your employees or some other external factor … it all comes down to you – the decisions you make and the actions you take.

If you relentlessly pursue profit with a clear focus you are likely to see profit grow. That’s better than waiting to make money when you sell because that’s less likely to happen in this market.

Doing all this relies on your measuring the performance of your business. The Tower software helps with this. It is easy.

VM inspiration for small business retail – the impact of colour

Colour blocking in retail makes a difference in almost any type of business. Shoppers are drawn to colour-blocked displays as they stand out in-store.

Here is a colour blocked display we saw on our travels recently, in a stationery related business.

Plenty of small business specialty retail businesses have opportunities to colour block. The result can be a valuable increase in shopper engagement.

Here is a key Tower Systems difference, in one video

One of the things that separates Tower Systems aside from other retailers is that we are retailers too, and have been for many years. We walk in the shoes of our customers in a way that other POS software companies don;t and can;t This video is an example of the value of on show as we speak about sales growth at one of our retail stores:

Small business management advice: the best way to integrate your retail business website with your POS software

Tower Systems takes a best practice approach to helping small business retailers to integrate their POS software with their websites. The company offers multiple opportunities:

  1. Magento integration.
  2. Shopify integration.
  3. Woo Commerce integration.
  4. Webstore link for other sites.
  5. A Tower developed website deeply integrated with the Tower POS software.

Each of these is a beautiful and seamless solution from Tower Systems, cost effectively serving small business retailers.

Our in-house web development team makes it easy for small business retailers to establish a beautiful,s successful and professional website, directly and live linked to the Tower Systems POS software. We have plenty of small business retailers for whom we have done this, plenty of reference sites.

All done in-house by us.

We are thrilled to have two local development teams in our business that can deliver: web solutions and desktop in-store solutions.

Our business management advice today is to get the best tech solution for your business. the rewards will be more online and offline sales.

Back to School marketing ideas for small business retailers who serve school students and their families

Back to School time is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with existing customers and to attract new customers to your store.

Here are some free marketing suggestions (some mainstream and some left field) designed to help you attract customers and get them shopping your Back to School range. Most of these marketing tips can be tried without spending too much money:

  1. Tell a visual story in-store. Get an old school desk and create a display showing your back to School supplies being used.
  2. Support a local school. Invite current and past students to tell their school stories through a display in your window or in store on a large noticeboard. The stories could be in the form of text on a page, a collage or photos.
  3. School stories. Invite customers, young and old to share their school stories in 50 words or less. Create an entry form. Stick the stories up on a wall for all to read. Offer a small prize for the best story.
  4. Old School Photos. Get customers 25 and over to bring in their favourite old school photo. Offer a small price for the best. Maybe group the photos: 25 to 40; 40 to 60; 60+. This could be an educational display as well as a beacon for nostalgia buffs.
  5. Run a sale for teachers. Consider giving teachers a special discount of anything (within reason) in store. Getting teachers in could help bring the students in.
  6. Discount by value. Offer a discount to customers who spend over a certain amount – respecting their loyalty to your business.
  7. Dress in uniforms. Have a day or two when all shop floor employees dress in school uniform.
  8. Be an information hub. Create a bulletin board of local school events – reminding parents of engagement opportunities. This should be maintained through the school year and done in association with the school.
  9. Host a shopping event. While you still have back to school stock on the shop floor host an event with games and prizes where you have all back to School stock on special. This should be a Back to School themed event and promoted well in advance.
  10. Host a bake sale. Invite a fund raising group connected with a local school to host a bake sale or a sausage sizzle out the front of your store on a couple of days through the Back to School sale season.
  11. Holiday fun. Run a competition for kinder and primary students inviting art entries showing their favourite part of the school holidays. Put the art on show. Offer a small prize. Parents will love the activity opportunity and the entrants will love seeing their work on show.
  12. Teacher gifts. If you have teacher gifts left over from your Christmas sales, put these out as some students may want to get the year off to a good start.
  13. Student gifts. Family and friends may want to give students a nice gift to acknowledge the start of the new year – maybe they are starting at a new school. Create a display of gifts especially for students.

No matter how big or small Back to School is in your store, it is an opportunity to have some fun and strengthen your connection with the local community.