By Lee Rychel
In our enthusiasm for our clients’ success, we frequently point them to the 300+ reports available within RETAILvantage. These reports offer tremendous insight into areas such as payables, A/R, sales and inventory, yet I am still amazed at how many don’t take advantage of them.
Through my nine years spent consulting for PROFITsystems and in my last seven working in Customer Relations, I have worked with clients on a countless number of issues. I’ve often asked them questions like “do you know this information about that specific area?” and their answer would typically be “no, I don’t. How do I find that out?” The ‘how’ has always been through the reports, but for many retailers the idea of plowing through them doesn’t feel as ‘good’ as the ole’ gut feeling about inventory, sales and so many other areas of the business. Without running reports, however, critical information can and will go unnoticed. For example, I used to ask every retailer I spoke to if they carried any receivables, and nearly 100% would answer “no, we have third party financing.” I would then run one report and show them tens of thousands (in one case hundreds of thousands) of dollars that either hadn’t been collected or posted to the correct account. In doing this exercise alone, it would often trigger a ‘what else don’t I know?’ kind of Q&A – and the answer was a lot.
That’s when the real fun would begin. With a few keystrokes we could sit together and determine the following without ever leaving the owner’s desk:
The list goes on and on. With this information we could often take a store performing at the mediocre level and turn it into a local powerhouse – but not without good information. Knowledge is power, and you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Through watching the firms that are coming out of the recession and growing versus the ones that are closing or struggling, I see one common denominator. The stores that are growing are doing something different than they were last year, last month: they’re measuring, planning and improving on every area of their business.
Taking the time to learn how to read the reports is one piece, but the other is time management. When I visit a store that’s struggling and see the owner out on the floor with a clipboard writing out price tags – I know we’re in trouble. Owners and managers need to manage their time in a way that allows them to get in front of these reports and begin to understand where improvements are needed. Busy work, unpacking boxes and pricing the floor are not owner-level activities. Sure, you may have a small team, but at some point the decision-makers in every company must invest the vast majority of their time in planning and implementation in order to make meaningful changes.
A favorite phrase I’ve used in working with owners and managers is “what are you doing today to grow your business tomorrow?” and it still applies. It isn’t easy; it won’t happen until you do something different, and doing something different means change. If you have been using the software for any length of time, then you have everything you need at your fingertips. Focus on an area, learn how to read the reports related to that area, fix what isn’t working and lean on what is. Rinse and repeat.
Have a great fall selling season and we look forward to your support calls asking “how can I find out. . . .”
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