In my view, there are three key areas that sports retailers should address on an ongoing basis. They don’t form the template for any particular business’ revival; rather, they are a combination of my thoughts and the occasional insight gleaned from talking with independent business people throughout the country.
If you don’t have focus you’re in trouble. A business needs to focus on one or two key things in order to survive and prosper. You can’t be all things to all men any more. You must decide where the business will specialise and in areas the consumer understands.
Your message to the world at large should be crystal clear. Consumers are bombarded with messages, so keep it simple and to the point and reflect this message in everything your business says and does, including signs, bags, receipts and local marketing.
It’s just a thought, but why call your business Joe Blogg Sports, for example, when fully 90 per cent of your turnover is surf/lifestyle/outdoor. Does it make sense to give the consumer such a mixed message?
A world-famous businessman once said a business has only two major functions - marketing and innovation. Do you market your business? Do you set aside an advertising budget each year to tell the world you exist and what your business stands for?
Don’t leave this to chance. Everything counts. Look at your enterprise through fresh eyes. Is the shop merchandised well? And don’t forget the basics - are the windows clean? Are all the lights working? Is the stock fresh? There are countless books on merchandising you can buy on Amazon that can help you give your windows and in-store displays a huge lift for little or no cost.
If you have not upgraded your signs or logo in the last 10 to 15 years, isn’t it time you did? Can you imagine how the high street would look today if companies like Boots and all the major multiples didn’t upgrade their image? There are compelling reasons why they do this - namely to refresh the business and capture the attention of consumers.
You can innovate in key areas using brainpower and a little money. One of the best investments I make each month or so is to buy an A4 notebook, which I use religiously every day to plan, record thoughts and insights and analyse what my business is doing.
Let’s be brutally honest here. When you have stock that wont shift you need to discount it and get rid of it ASAP. Don’t fall in love with it and think it’s all money in the bank - it’s not. It’s your money tied up with no return and it will eventually strangle the business. Turn it back into cash and, more importantly, learn from your buying mistakes wherever you can.
If you’re in the habit of giving daily discounts on new stock to customers just because they are a member of a local club, then think this through and analyse the implications. 10 per cent on an £80 retail ticket is not 10 per cent. It’s approximately 32 per cent of your profit.
Rather than deduct £8 in hard cash, give away a freebie worth £15 at retail price that only costs you £3. This way you have dramatically cut the cash you are giving away and your customer receives far better value.