So you’ve been a retailer most of your career and you have a great handle on your inventory and general store operations. But what if something happened to you? What if you wanted to pass the business on to someone else or sell your business? How would you transfer all of your knowledge and retail know-how? Without a POS and inventory control system, it is going to be very difficult to transfer all of your valuable experience and knowledge. If you are the business, then all of the value is in you, not the business itself. You need to be data-driven and use technology to your advantage. Having actionable data from your POS and inventory control system will validate the gut feeling you currently use to run your business. Through analysis of this data, you will also learn things you never knew about or thought of before. Having a data-driven perspective of your business allows you to look at things through a different lens. Having actionable data allows you to establish scalable procedures and operational practices. You can do this by empowering others to use the data to make decisions and to maximize efficiency in your business. You are most likely a bottleneck in some parts of the business because you possess all the information. There is always room for improvement and ways to increase revenue. If you are not currently using technology to provide actionable data, then you should seriously consider making a change. You could truly make huge gains and lower your operating costs. Click here to learn more about what data can do for you. Brian Jones, co-owner of Playmakers in central Michigan, didn’t start out in retail. He started out as a runner, then as an accountant. When his MSU fraternity needed equipment for a philanthropy event, Brian went to the local running store in the mall to request a loaned clock and banner for the event. The turnout for the event was great, and Brian ended up with a part-time job at the running store. After graduation and two years in public accounting, Brian ended up back at that running store and has remained there ever since, helping to build Playmakers into one of the most respected athletic stores in the country.

1. Build a community and provide value.

Brian_Jones_Playmakers Playmakers doesn’t just sell athletic footwear and apparel — though they do, and they do it very well. The store also serves as a community hub. Playmakers hosts packet pickups for races, race director clinics to educate people how to put on a race, yoga classes, and clinics on running form. In addition, they host “Diva Nights” and events for groups ranging from high school teams to physicians. Brian explains that the outcome of involvement within the local culture is a thriving active community in the East Lansing area, which “get all these points of connectivity and plants those seeds. It attracts a lot of like-minded people.”

2. Give back to the community.

Playmakers’ business philosophy is community-oriented, and it’s evident. When the store’s founder, Curt Munson, found that most programs teaching and advocating for proper running form were too complicated, he created his own. Good Form Running involves four simple steps to improve running technique and avoid injury. When New Balance bought the trademark to the program, Playmakers used the money to fund the Playmakers Fitness Foundation. The foundation promotes charitable events in the community, including the donation of entry fees for St. Vincent’s patients who want to participate in local races.

3. Focus on customer education, not the sale.

When it comes to store operations, the focus, first and foremost, is on the customer. During our site visit, Kristin and I walked into the store and were greeted by associates who were friendly, informative, and (most impressively) not automatically trying to push us to make a purchase. When we asked Brian about how he measures employee success, his answer perfectly paralleled our experience: “We’re not salesy. We could be much more aggressive.” He went on to explain that the team’s primary goal is educating the customer. When a customer receives the right knowledge and answers to their questions, the sale will naturally follow. It’s evident that Playmakers prioritizes both the overall community and the individual customer, which in turn contribute to the business’s success. Check out the full case study here. Located in Seymour, IN, The Fitted Foot was opened in 2006 by Dr. Walter Warren in conjunction with his podiatry practice. His clients come into his practice for their appointments and leave through the retail store, driving business to the store and enabling his clients to purchase pedorthic solutions in the same convenient location. When I visited the store on Friday, Terry Nichalson, the manager, provided some more insight into how they operate. The business can be split up into three main categories: Terry uses RICS to manage sales, inventory, ordering, and employees. A typical day  in the store goes as follows:
  1. Close out from the day before
  2. Run POS Journal, POS Special Orders, Salesperson Analysis reports
  3. Ring sales
  4. Generate purchase orders using RICS
  5. Run inventory reports
The Fitted Foot experienced 20% growth last year, and will be opening a new store in Columbus, IN within the next year. Want to learn more? Take a look at their case study. The economy is starting to turn around, but businesses still need to monitor where their payroll dollars are going. RICS clients turn to our team for help with managing payroll dollars and payroll hours. RICS has a powerful time clock tool that tracks when employees clock in and out, while also providing a detailed analysis of how each employee’s hours were allocated: sales or non-sales. Why is the distinction important? When using the time clock function, a store owner or manager can get detailed information from the Salesperson Analysis report that shows: hours worked in sales, profit, returns, commission, perks, average sale $, and multiple sales. The Salesperson Analysis report can be used to help identify which employees may need more training or education. Time management is an important component of your business as well. RICS assists you with tools like the Sales by Time report. This report shows an owner or manager exactly when their busiest sales hours are, allowing them to confidently forecast periods of high and low volume. Use this to allocate payroll dollars efficiently. The local purchasing movement has grown over the past few years to the point that “Buy Local” stickers can be seen frequently on cars outside of the Whole Foods parking lot. Farmers markets have been revived, niche bookstores have opened their doors while larger chains have failed, and buying organic food from the co-op down the road has become popular. (more…)