Retail Tip 117: Build Your Operational Business Plan

Planning to grow your business and make money…can actually be fun! We are optimistic about the future of specialty tennis retailers in the U.S. This may seem odd considering we have pointed out in TIA Webinars the fact that retailing in America is in the midst of profound changes, and some industry observers are predicting that by 2020, half of all retail stores in the U.S. today will be gone.

But what fuels our positive future view for all specialty retailers is a recent statement by the National Retail Federation: “The fastest growing retail model—small, independently owned boutiques in neighborhoods, close to their consumers!”

So, this tip is about planning—and specifically planning for your specialty tennis retail business today. Independently owned boutiques, or specialty retailers, may be the fastest growing retail model, but they are still doing business in the midst of profound changes.

A Passion for Retailing

In this retail environment, having a passion for tennis, while important, simply isn’t enough. It has to be matched by an equal passion for all aspects of specialty retailing, including operational planning.

You can actually make it enjoyable, because it can be financially rewarding … and who doesn’t like making more money! There is no magic in a retail operational business plan, but there is a greater control of your business, its expenses, product costs and profit through planning and re-planning.

Make a commitment to work (**ital.)on(**reg) your business, and not (**ital.)in(**reg) it for five days—or just over 1 percent of your whole year. The first months of the New Year are ideal for you to make a commitment to spend about five days working on your operational business plan.

* Planning Calendar: We are big advocates of planning calendars. Purchase a monthly planner from your local stationary store, find an appropriate software or computer application—or make your own.

Meet with your supplier sales reps and promotional partners in your local business community and map out and write in the promotional and advertising opportunities for the coming year. Research the costs and write them in—and ask your sales reps to contribute and ask their employers (your suppliers) to share in the costs.

* Write It Down: A defining trait of successful independent retail businesses is they write down their operational business plans … and a defining trait of unsuccessful independent retail businesses is they tend not to write down their plans. So, build your planning calendar and then write down the details of How, Who, Why (the expected result), When, Where and how much it will Cost for each and every item.

Here is where you need to create a financial and sales projection spreadsheet. If you don’t like computers, do this manually, but whatever you are comfortable with, write down your financial projections and forecast for the coming year for inventory, business expenses, revenue, gross margin and profit.

* Retail Assessment: Get a check-up for your business by taking a TIA Retail Business Assessment. The whole process will take about 20 minutes and you will get back a complete analysis of strengths and weaknesses, along with recommendations for what aspects to focus on during the coming year to eliminate the weaknesses and build on the strengths. Contact the TIA today (843-473-4505 or marty@tennisindustry.org) to arrange to take your retail business check up.

Three Ways to Grow

There are only three ways to grow your business, and you should build your operational business plan to:

* Increase the dollar value of transactions (average ticket value per customer). Simple, basic retailing like up-selling and add-on sales can increase the value of individual transactions and create happier customers who appreciate consultative suggestions to enhance their tennis lifestyles.

* Increase the frequency of transactions with your clients. Your database of satisfied customers is valuable only if you make proper use of it to continually communicate with customers that have already spent money with you—by inviting them back to see what is new or visit your website to find an ideal tennis gift for family or friends.

* Increase the number of clients. Focus your multichannel marketing budget on reaching out to the demographics in your neighborhood to invite young people, women and the multicultural diversity of your community into your store to discover the enjoyment of the tennis lifestyle that you offer.

Re-Planning

This may be the most important aspect of the planning process. Be aware that no plan survives first engagement. All plans are changed the minute they are executed, and here is what separates the small business owners who don’t get the importance of a business plan from those that get it. You need to adjust for the things that don’t work and take advantage of the things that do.

You spend five days of your year developing an operational business plan … so that you are prepared to re-plan, to adjust to the changes that your real-time marketplace throws at you every day.

The key to your retail operation is receiving weekly reports on your key performance indicators so that you can quickly make changes to any number of store operations that will give you the best opportunity to adjust for the things that don’t work and take advantage of the things that do—all in order to maintain your profit and growth plan for the year.

What’s Next? The March TIA Webinar is “Using Assessment Benchmarks to Improve Your Specialty Tennis Retail Business.” Visit TennisIndustry.org/webinars for details and to register.

This is part of a series of retail tis presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (www.gluskintownleygroup.com).