Whilst the January sales are traditionally a hectic period for most in the retail sector, builders’ merchants and other trade-centric retailers tend to have a quieter time at the beginning of the year. That presents the perfect opportunity to evaluate how your business is faring. What went well in 2015? What was disappointing? How would you improve the business?
Aside from drawing up strategic plans and reviews, you can make an immediate pledge to start implementing changes: a New Year’s resolution. These are the promises to make on behalf of your business to carry out tasks that you might otherwise delay indefinitely. Here are a few examples.
#1 Keep your website and social media channels updated
More and more merchants are establishing some kind of digital presence, but setting up your website or Facebook page is the easy part. It’s the frequency, regularity and quality of updates that takes the most work. Therefore, many companies let their sites gather dust – even though it would only take a couple of hours of work each week to keep them up-to-date. This year, why not resolve to keep on top of website and social media updates? By making this improvement your initial investment in social media or a website will be made more worthwhile, and you’ll be in a good position to gain extra trade from these sources.
#2 Reach out beyond your established customer base
Many local builders’ merchants will know the majority of customers by name – or at least by the company they represent – and you’ll probably recognise another large proportion of faces, too. While repeat trade is a good sign that your business is doing something right, the natural churn of customers as they move away or switch careers means that you should never rest on your laurels. Make this year the year that you focus on reaching out beyond your established customer base through marketing, advertising and customer referral schemes.
#3 Try something different
Running a builders’ merchant is an endless series of tasks. Even during quiet periods, you may be playing catch-up on administrative tasks and have little time to consider the future direction of your business. This year, take a step back and evaluate the current state of your business. Are there any areas you’d like to improve on? Would you to like to specialise or diversify? Resolve to try something different at your business this year, whether that’s testing a new marketing platform, trying a different method of discounting products, or overhauling your shop’s layout.
#4 Manage dead stock more efficiently
Dead stock – stock that just won’t shift – is a drain on warehouse space and your bottom line. While many merchants take a rather improvised approach to dead stock, using methodical processes could help to reduce the problem. If you have stock control software, you can look at the sales figures for every product. When sales per week or month fall below a certain threshold, start applying a first level of discount. Later, move them to a clearance section or consider packaging them with more popular goods. Implementing such systems may seem a hassle at first, but you’ll soon reap the rewards.
Related article: How to avoid and clear dead stock.
#5 Evaluate technology
Every business uses technology to some degree. Technology should be viewed as something that aids you in the management of your business, not something that holds you back or takes up too much of your time. This year, resolve to evaluate the technology in your business. Is each software package or piece of hardware working efficiently? Are there any tasks that are slow, cumbersome, or just can’t be completed with your current set-up? Look at every technology item - from scanners and printers to your point of sale software and accounting system. If you conclude that these items need replacing or upgrading, start researching your options now. The longer you delay, the more the deficient technology will cost your business.
Which of these New Year’s resolutions do you think your business needs? If you’re curious about upgrading your point of sale and stock control software, take a look at Trader – Integrity Software’s system built specifically for merchants.
Trader is an easy to use electronic point of sale system designed for the unique requirements of building, plumbing and timber merchants, hardware and DIY stores in the UK and Ireland.
Our team are ready to help with any queries or arrange a demo for you.