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You have to believe; you have to lead

By Jennifer Robison

Jennifer Robison 2011Glorious May is here, but for some parts of the U.S. it’s been like February — cold, wet and just plain yucky. That has an effect on all of us. We feel like we should continue to hibernate, but when it’s sunny, we pop up like flowers in the sun; we feel like we can and want to do more, and we love to spend more on a sunny day! What I’ve found is that powersports retailers and many other enthusiast-based retailers allow hibernation to slow action in their stores. They tend to manage a reaction, rather than plan.

My belief and experience in retail tell me that you can be as successful as you want to be; you can grow sales in your store even with limitations of money, weather, staff, or whatever your issues are. The question is, can you decide to be success driven? Or are you so set on maintaining your comfort and status quo that you repeat each season’s action or inaction?

The main thing you can control is your energy, knowledge and ability to challenge yourself and your team to be more successful. The more proactive you are with your energy and your drive, the more people are attracted to you and your stores. People can overlook your store’s limitations, but they will not overlook your store’s vibe!

If you are driven, you will make sure your store is stocked (the best you can), current with new and top products and clean and reset with the best goods in the best locations, such as, behind the parts counters or end caps. The best retailers don’t get hung up on some old rules, which may ultimately work against, such as the “milk is in the back” theory.

Here are four things you should focus on:

  • Feature of top sellers, such as helmets. Turn helmets, so the side profile and graphics (if there are any) are seen, and avoid showing the front. All helmets look the same from the front, and it’s difficult to sense the style, brand, or features.
  • Use branding and signage to lead and direct customers. There has been training in the past that stores should be bland and use the same fixtures — NO DICE, this is wrong! Wal-Mart and Target use the same displays and racking, but they use strong graphics and colors to pull you into each product category. These stores are NOT bland anymore, they pop with color and imagery to speak to you about the brand or product story.
  • Don’t hide the hot sellers. Show off products like bike covers, tie downs, bungees and the other items riders need and forget they want. Boost your add-on sales near a cash wrap! From grocery to sporting goods or automotive, you are always surrounded with trinkets, candy, water, playing cards, lip balm, nose trimmers and similar items in the cash wrap zone or lane. Make sure you look at your cash wrap area and reset its ability to show more upsell items to bench press your add-on sales!
  • Stop waiting for old inventory to sell in your margin! Margin is based on turns. When you start to get too much product that won’t sell due to age, or unavailable, broken size runs or because it’s shop worn, you must sell it for whatever you can. YOU NEED CASH! Your accountant understands that some products will possibly sell for less than margin, and they can account for that. If your managers are paid on margin alone, that’s a mistake because that is how too many retail stores get stuck with stale merchandise that clogs the arteries of your books big time. It’s better to sacrifice margin on a general small amount of inventory, so you don’t look like a garage sale year-round and so your cash flow is in motion. Money v. no money is very crucial to progressive management. Every retailer deals with this, from large to small operators. Don’t let this issue hold you back! Stores should strive for a goal of three turns a year. If your store handles $120,000 in inventory, you need at least $360,000 in sales. (FYI, Some items turn more often, while others may only get one turn per year. Don’t freak out; it's a part of the system.)

Our seasons tend to be short for what we sell. The sun is here and everyone wants to ride now! Get going and stop worrying about things that are holding you back. No matter what the challenge, make your store the best you can make it, and you will be successful!

Jennifer Robison’s career began in 1987 when she served as a service writer/parts sales for a high-end import auto dealer before becoming one of the first generation of Harley-Davidson Motorclothes managers at a Northwest dealership (1991-2000). From 2002 on, Jennifer has been with Tucker Rocky Distributing. Jennifer has educated the Tucker Rocky sales force and dealers about the powersports apparel business and powersports retailing. Jennifer’s expertise is in powersports retailing, merchandising and display, promotions and in-store marketing. She has lectured and written about powersports retailing and continues to perform dealer educational workshops and seminars across the United States.

Contact: jrobison@tuckerrocky.com
Website: www.tuckerrocky.com 


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