Tower CEO Mark Fletcher was a guest on a recent Podcast by The Retail Doctor, Bob Phibbs. Click here for a listen to the thirty-minute program.
Selling 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 retail business for sale can take time, depending on the state of the business. The earlier you start the better.
The keys are too leave yourself plenty of time and have a plan. The advice we provide here is based on years of service to small business retailers across many different retail channels.
In our work with small business retailers we have been able to build knowledge assets in many areas, including how to set a business up for sale, how too make the offer compelling and the business manageable and enticing. We share a glimpse here into some of our knowledge assets in this area.
Here is our overview advice of what you need to do to prepare your independent retail business for sale.
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.
In your Tower Systems POS software, you can easily to pitch that you are locally connected business. For example, you can serve, on receipts, local information relevant in your area:
We can help you do this, we can help you show through the software how your business is better for the local community than any big business competitor.
BEING LOCAL BEYOND THE SOFTWARE.
Here are four ideas you could consider to show off a local connection. This collection of ideas is all about things you could do that are newsworthy for the local media:
While none of these ideas is about you selling product, each does better connect your shop with your local community and that is vital.
Here are other tips on boosting the local connection:
In our work with independent small business retailers we get to see man different retail businesses up close. We have seen plenty take on young employees, right out of school. Some do it well while others struggle. Through this time we have see good attributes in school leavers that we share here…
If you are a business owner and hiring school leavers, step up to the responsibility seriously. You hire them, train them, manage them and determine their value to the business as as the value of the business to them. Oh, and being their friend is not an ideal step to good management.
Older employees can being terrific value to a retail business that is keen bring change to the business. Young employees cost less and this is a common appeal among retail business owners.
An older employee could bring more value to the business, they could leverage a better return on labour investment for the business. Here are other benefits that can be available depending on the background, skill set and work interest of the older employee:
When you are looking to fill a vacancy or a new role in the business, consider older person for these and other reasons you can think of. The could bring to the business skills and interest the you can leverage more valuably than the skills and interest of a younger lower cost employee.
Of course, the value of any employee depends on your hiring, training, management and motivation of them.
The post of this post is to suggest that next time you hire you think about an older employee.
Note: The federal government jobactive restart program can help Australian businesses that hire older employees financially:
Restart is a financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over.
Older employees can bring new insights and energy to a business. The right hire could be just want the business needs to explore new traffic opportunities.
Driving shopper efficiency is key for retailers. It is easier to get a shopper in the store to purchase more than to get a new shopper into the store from outside.
In looking at shopper basket efficiency for many different retail businesses we have developed an understanding of basic steps different small business retailers can take to drive shipper efficiency. Here is our advice.
Smile, make conversation, treasure your customers. The more they enjoy shopping in your shop the more they will shop in your shop. Smile. Get good eye contact. Say hello rather than can I help you. The more personal the experience the more they will remember you. This is your point of difference. Personal service is the single most valuable way to drive shopper visit efficiency.
WORK THE SHOP.
Standing behind the counter means you’ll serve people who come to you. The more you are in the body of the shop and engaging with customers the more they will buy. In busy times work the shop – engage, offer up sells. Customer service increases revenue in every situation we have seen. Our advice is you locate a workstation on the shop floor.
Show how products are used.
THE COUNTER AS A SALES TOOL.
Go to your shop counter and look at it from a customer perspective. What’s the message? Is it inviting? Are you using the counter to drive sales? Anyone can put product at their counter. It takes a clever retailer to use the counter to entice customers to buy a product. Use your counter wisely.
It’s difficult to offer every customer an up sell. Instead, use your receipts. Include a $$ off on next purchase. Point it out. Keep it simple, have an expiry date on the coupon. This is an easy win that will bring back shoppers for sure.
TRAINING SALES EMPLOYEES.
Get your employees on side – explain your focus on growth. If they don’t support you, replace them. Respect your employees and ask for their ideas. Use their ideas! Train them. Guide them in providing exceptional service. They are your front line and need to be your most skilled team members.
TARGET, MEASURE, REASSESS.
Keep track of your success and failures. Be realistic in your assessment. Change what is not working and celebrate what is working – keeping your employees informed all the way through the process.
HOT SPOT TARGETS.
Focus on your top, say, 5 items. Watch where people buying these items go in your shop. Watch carefully. Consider what you can do to get them elsewhere in your shop. This is the key – getting people to shop outside their usual category, breaking their habits.
IN STORE SPRUIKER.
In your busiest time in the week bring in a spruiker for use INSIDE your shop. Create some buzz and excitement to draw people away from their usual shopping areas.
A key reason people will stop visiting your shop is that they know what it will be like. A changing shop can be exciting. Good changes will make people want to come in and check out new products and other changes you’ve made.
While much of this advice reads like common sense. Too often we see retailers who have missed the opportunity.
Photos are very important to retailers who sell online. The better the photos of a product the easier it is for an online shopper to purchase.
This is tough small business retailers as they often need to photograph products themselves if they want photos that look different from the stock photos provided by suppliers.
Photography for online sales is different to personal photography.
We get involved in this as it is in our POS software where small business retailers store photos and other content for each product they wish to sell online. Having the one repository for inventory information and images is important. It assists management and provided ease of change should the need arise.
To take better photos, retailers need to have the right tools:
Once photos are taken and the actual ones to be used have been selected, these are loaded into the POS software for use there and for feeding to any ecommerce site used by the business.
If there are bulk photos to be uploaded to an ecommerce site, there are easy ways to do this without having to go through the POS software if that is a preference.
While none of this is related directly to help desk support using our POS software, we happily get involved, sharing the expertise of our team gained from our own retail businesses and the various ecommerce sites with which they connect.
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.
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
We love this window display that we saw recently overseas. The colouring of the small logs makes he display pop.
We get to see plenty of retail businesses in our ravels here at Tower Systems. Here are some recent displays we have in retail that we like:
A fun and engaging sing on the footpath in front of your shop can attract people to your business. It can challenge people to consider your business beyond what the shingle above your door may say. The more creative the sign the better.
Go all out creative. Have fun. Be colourful. Shop that shopping with you will be fun. People want fun.
Here are a couple of signs we have seen recently that we love:
Play vinyl in-store. We saw this recently and loved it.
We have been promoting this special offer from our friends at Tyro for the last week or so:
|For a limited time, if you switch to our partner Tyro from one of the Big 4, they will guarantee you a savings of $1000.|
|5 other reasons to switch|
|If you’re an existing EFTPOS customer with one of the Big Four and are transacting between $1million and $3million every year, you’re eligible for this offer.|
|It’s valid until the end of March and is only available for the first 500 applicants – so get in fast!|
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.
Small and independent retailers often feel helpless when a big national retailer opens up nearby. There is no match for their range, buying power, advertising coverage or even news coverage.
The sheer size of a national competitor is what scares many smaller retailers. This is often enough for them to give up and close the business.
Giving up and running is the easy way out. There is no lesson learned, just an escape from the fear.
The alternative is to find out how to deal with the national retailer.
Here are five tips for small businesses on how to face and deal with a national retailer moving into the area:
Not competing should include not advertising price comparisons, not focusing on the competitor at staff meetings, not expanding your range to sell more of what they sell and not obsessing about them.
I was working with an independent retailer recently who decided to offer a product they sold which is also available in a nearby national retailer for 10% less than the sale price in the national retailer. This move gave the independent retailer a margin of 15%. In discussion I discovered that most of the customers who visited the independent retailer were unlikely to shop in the national retailer. So why compete on price?
If you know why customers shop with you, you have the opportunity of not giving up margin out of fear.
Too often, independent retailers wait until the national retailer is open to react. This is probably a year or two too late.
Being smaller and independent you are better able to personally engage with the community. You and your team are the business whereas a national chain will always be the corporate. They can throw money around locally, you can throw time, knowledge and more flexible assistance.
Your stories could be about local community connection, convenience of shopping, commitment to range, personal customer service, product niche knowledge … there are many different narratives with which an independent retailer can connect. It is important that one you have your narrative you stick to is, that it inhabits your decisions, marketing and public presentation.
By acting early and in advance of a national retailer opening, you better position your business to weather their advertising and PR onslaught. Get in early, build a stronger business and understand that through this the new business in town will not be your competitor.
A common question we are asked by people contemplating purchasing a retail business is what should I ask for when looking at buying a retail business?
The question itself, when asked, indicates how green a prospective purchaser is when it comes to purchasing a business.
Here is a list of data we suggest retail business purchasers access from the vendor or their representative:
This is good basic information that will enable any purchaser to undertake reasonable assessment of a business.
A good business will shine through the numbers just as a business with upside achievable by new owners will shine through.
Our advice to newsagents looking to sell who are concerned about this list is: think about it now and focus on your business so the data I have listed looks good.
Every day you make decisions in your business that impact many of the data points listed.
This is why we say every day is your pay day. Run a smart, lean and profit focused business and you will have a good pay day today and a good one when you come to sell.
The most appealing businesses are those that are easier to run and are making money.
Sure a purchaser can turn a business around. They should get the rewards if they are expected to do that for your business.
The price you can sell your business for will be based on what it is making now.
Getting the data ready for the sale of the business could, of itself, help you improve how you run your business.
Our small business POS software company helps retailers in many different ways every day. Often, advice is sought on business management needs outside of POS software needs. In one case recently we were asked to provide advice on running Facebook competitions. Here is the advice we provided:
Running a competition on your business Facebook page is a terrific way to drive engagement and attract likes (followers).
Here is our advice on how to do this based on running many competitions on our various pages.
Here the most important advice: every competition must have a commercial imperative, a goal for the business in terms of likes, store visits, purchases. Know your goal and measure your achievement once the competition is over.
Competitions are an excellent way to drive engagement on Facebook for any business. Get it right though – otherwise you could do more damage to your brand than you would like. The old adage of measure twice and cut once works here when setting up competitions.
If your year-on-year sales are down, something has to change if you want to turn the situation around, please read on.
If you keep doing what you have been doing, the sales results in your business will be what they have been.
It would be a mistake to think that external factors are the sole reason your sales are down.
So, change is necessary – change in what you sell, how you merchandise and how you promote.
It is only from change that the sales decline could be arrested and reversed.
Our advice is to look for u-turn or right turn opportunities, changes you can implement to divert you from your current path.
Suggesting such changes is something Tower Systems can help with through our free Business Check service. Ask us to challenge you. We will first ask to see your year on year data at a detailed level as this will reveal the truth of the situation and from there we can develop change suggestions for your consideration.
We don’t have all the answers, we will even suggest ideas we later discover are mistakes. However, doing what you have been doing in a situation of declining sales is a bigger mistake.
If your year-on-year sales are down, are you open to suggestions for change?
We have seen resistance to a u-turn or right turn in the business result in the year on year sales decline continue. Don’t let this be you.
This is not the usual advice you would expect from your POS software company. But Tower Systems is not your usual POS software company.
In our work with small business specially retailers in Australia and New Zealand we often hear about burnout, retailers being tired and over the grind of opening the shop working all day, closing, getting little sleep and doing it all again.
We hear of retailers who are often too tired to be innovative in their approach to business, to exhausted to think about the future let alone today or tomorrow.
We get it that retail is tough, full of challenges. Our job is to help retailers see things differently.
Call us crazy but we have some ideas designed to help small business retailers reconnect with their businesses. They are unconventional. They are free. They are fun. They are designed to get you looking, hearing and smelling your business differently. They are designed to open your eyes to opportunities you may be missing.
Are you ready? Here are our unconventional ideas for refreshing your views of your small retail business – in the hope that you find opportunities you were not seeing.
We have more crazy ideas. These barely scratch the surface of the crazy idea cupboard. Just ask.
We’re here to help small business retailers create and run successful independent small local retail businesses. Our help goes beyond our software. Were retailers too and love being able to talk retail with anyone.
Every week we get to see many different retail situations through our work with small business retailers. The most exciting shops we visit are those that challenge our perception of that type of retail business. This happens when we go into a shop expecting to see a certain range of products or a certain type of display because of the type of business it is and we actually find something quite different, far more exciting, something that challenges the perception of the business.
Through our work with retailers we share the insights we see, this ideas we pick up and the excitement we feel when we see something unexpected.
So, beyond the POS software and the technical work we do we share good retail, retail we like, to encourage change elsewhere.
We try things ourselves in our own shops, like the greening of the magazine department in our own pop culture newsagency as shown below. Introducing plants to the magazine department has resulted in excellent shopper interaction.
Memorable customer service is the most important point of difference a retail business can have, especially a business which does not make what it sells and therefore could have its products being sold by any other business apple to reach the same pool of shoppers.
We call it memorable customer service because it truly has to be that … memorable. So memorable that it is praised by your customers to others.
Good customer service should be the norm, the lowest hurdle any retail business can jump. Memorable customer service, the level of customer service that makes a shopper talk about the experience to their friends, must be the goal and it is the word of mouth from these customers that is a factor in driving traffic growth.
Memorable customer service is just as vital to Point of Sale software companies as it is for retail businesses. Since we own retail businesses as well as our POS software company we see it, live it and reach for it from both sides.
This is why we work hard to encode the ability to focus on customer service in our Point of Sale software. That’s right, retailers using our software have touch points they can leverage using software which help deliver the kind of memorable customer service we are talking about here.
Memorable customer service in retail, just as in a software company, is experiences which exceed expectations, it delivers benefits outside of what you expect even from a good business. In our IT company we compete with big IT companies and small, like us, IT companies. While we want our software to be the point of difference customers notice and talk about positively, it is our customer service which is loved and mentioned to colleagues more. Realising this was an epiphany for us.
We focus on building stronger, better and more valuable software. But we also surround this, completely, with customer service experiences which are the very best of the best. This gives us, and our customers, the best of both worlds. And we love it ourselves.
Given that most retailers do not have products unique to their businesses, delivering memorable customer service is critical to the business plan. Small and independent retailers can do this more easily and effectively than big retailers. From the genuine smile to shoppers to product knowledge to that extra information which helps a shopper get more out of the product purchased than they would have had the purchased the product elsewhere. This added value is the key and it can be delivered in almost any situation and with any product from a stapler through to a high-end road bike.
So, beyond our software and as part of our customer service focus, we seek out opportunities to help our customers deliver memorable customer service. Indeed, this was one topic we covered in the recent face-to-face user meetings we ran in capital cities and major regional centres around Australia.
As a Point of Sale software company, our mission is to deliver constantly improving retail management software backed with memorable customer service and going beyond this with business insights and assistance which helps our retailers themselves deliver exceptional and memorable experiences to their customers.
If you sell locally sources products, tell your customers. Here is how they do it at Whole Foods supermarkets in the US. Simple. Trustworthy. Brilliant.