After the rush for First Communion / Confirmation / Easter season ends, your store inevitably faces a business slow down heading into June and July. If you usually treat this as a time to kick back and hope that your Spring earnings will carry you through the summer, it's time to change that now!
Summer should be a time for you to work ON your business instead of IN your business. You know, focus on planning and improvement instead of the day-to-day of paying bills and ringing up sales. Here are some suggestions for Summer planning:
- Look at your bestsellers from the previous Christmas. What were they? Did you sell out? Did you have more demand than supply? Do you need to update prices?
- Look at the list you created last Christmas of items / product lines that you didn't carry. If you didn't make a list last year, get in the habit now of keeping track of things people ask for that you don't have. It will help you notice them as you look through vendor catalogs. If you can find them and carry them this year, it will also improve your sales.
- Go through your list of ways you gather customer contact information. If you don't have a list, start one. Figure out how you are going to take advantage of the upcoming Christmas season to greatly expand your list of contacts. If you can get email addresses, all the better because sending email newsletters is almost free.
- Look at the marketing you did last Christmas. What worked? Do you have any way of telling what worked? If you don't, make a plan for keeping track of every sale source. If the hundred dollars a month you spend on yellow page ads isn't bringing in business, why are you spending $100 a month?
- Clean up your store. It is amazing how quickly a store can get in a rut. Years can pass before you know it and your shelves are dusty, the posters in your window are faded and customers get into a habit of skipping sections of your store because they "already know what's there". Move things around. Replace burned out and dying lights. Fix your fixtures. Sort your bookshelves.
- Set goals for the second half of the year. How many pastors are you going to try and meet? What organizations are you part of that will let you promote your business? How many times are you going to contact local shoppers?
Hopefully, this list will help you treat Summer as a great time to strengthen your business instead of a time to sit back, or worse, wait in dispair for the end of Summer.