Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Being a Successful Retailer

If you've been following this blog regularly, you probably know everything I'm going to say here. Some of it is in my Bio, and some is on my new website www.PhilsForum.com.

For those who are just starting to follow, I'd like to give you a little background about who I am and what I want to accomplish with this blog.

I am a retailer. I run a toy store so I know a lot about seasonal business. I also sell baby products so I know a lot about working on deadlines (nine months might seem like a long time, but it sneaks up on a lot of couples).

And most people consider my business to be quite successful. We were named by George Whalin as one of the 25 Best Independent Stores in America. So we must be doing something right.

In a couple weeks I'm going to tell the city of Jackson how to be successful in a market with 15% unemployment, a shrinking blue-collar workforce, and a struggling government & economy.

I can sum it up in two words - Keep Learning.

When I realized that our advertising wasn't working, I took classes, read books and studied until I fully understood branding and how ads work. I give a lot of credit to Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads for what I learned.

When I realized that I was lousy at hiring, I evaluated the problem until I understood where I went wrong and developed a system to improve the quality of people I was bringing in. (I'm publishing a book about it later this fall.)

When I took over 50% of the buying responsibilities for the largest selection of toys under one roof, I studied open-to-buy systems and adapted them to fit our situation and needs.

As an Independent Retailer, there are always fires to put out, always challenges to face, always new obstacles to overcome. I believe the successful businesses are the ones who are always learning, always expanding their knowledge & understanding of four key areas:
  • Customer Service
  • Inventory Control/Merchandising
  • Financials
  • Advertising/Marketing
I have found that the more I study, the more prepared I am to meet the new challenges and turn them into opportunities. As my high school swim coach used to always say, Luck is when Preparation meets Opportunity.

How do I do it? I devour business books. I am reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith right now. It will be the 12th non-fiction book I've read this year. One of my favorite books was Seth Godin's Tribes. It's no wonder that I follow both Seth's and Chris's blogs.

Which brings me to the goal of this blog... I want to share with you what I've been learning so that we all can be successful.

Your feedback is welcome. The more you comment and tell me what's on your mind, the more I can tweak this to give you what you need. If there are topics you'd like to see addressed, let me know. If there ideas you want to share, by all means share them.

We're in this together. At least that's my way of thinking.

Your thoughts?

-Phil

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