Right now, I am finding that most decorative plumbing showrooms are struggling. For instance, gross sales volume is on life support, margins have had the sweat wrung from them and expenses have already been cut to the bone. Today, there’s no room for the relaxed atmosphere of yesterday, so it’s no wonder office laughter has seemingly gone silent.
And the macro outlook is really not any better. Consumers, even with stellar credit, can’t secure money. The general mood about the economy is beaten down by mainstream media that refuses to recognize even a flicker of good news. So it’s no wonder the rumor mill, our own avenue of underground communication, is spewing nothing but trash about what’s ahead for us. Basically, we’re gasping for air pockets just to survive.
Plan for Success
So, what exactly am I doing about this situation – a situation I have no control over? I’m taking definitive action. I’m thinking differently about my business. One thing for sure is that I’m certainly not going to just sit back and wait.
First of all, I realized that it was time to take inventory. For me, that meant looking at what I know I’m doing right, and knowing what I’m doing wrong.
I looked at my entire business and listed all of the elements that make the company run…things like products and how I select them, advertising for the company, the perception or image of the company and a fine-tuned look at our expenses. These are just a few of the things that keep The Bath + Beyond going.
I listed all of the elements I could think of and then divided them into two categories: elements that are working and not in need of change, and areas of the company that could use improvement to be more successful.
Just as a side note, an important distinction is that there are no “unsuccessful factors” in any business, just those things that could be successful if done well enough.
So, in a short time, I created my list of elements that make up my company. These included Sales Volume, Margins, Advertising, Expenses, Marketing, Merchandising, Image, Product Selection, Client Base, Displays, Facilities, Personnel and Message.
Now it was time to do a reality check. Was each area working the best it could? Was I satisfied with the performances in that area? If so, I wrote the word “maintain” next to the key word. If I felt that this was an area that could use improvement, I wrote “repair” next to the specific element.
After hours of close scrutiny, not one item on the list was safe. Not one element had the word “maintain” after it. Things needed to be changed drastically. I knew it, and there was no better time to think differently than now…when I had the time.
I then listed next to each element questions about that particular category. Let’s take advertising as an example.
Questions I posed to myself were: Where do I advertise? What types of media do I use? How often do I advertise? Who is my target audience? Do our ads have style and class? Is the message the right message conveyed to the client? Is there an underlying message? And perhaps most importantly, would this ad attract me?
I again expanded on each sub-comment with enough specific information to make a proper assessment of each element. After finishing with my comments and observations, I realized I could do better, be stronger and have a better and more complete message in most elements of my firm. My efforts were now to make repairs…everywhere I possibly could in my business.
Check Your Image
One of the first elements I really studied was image. The image of The Bath + Beyond is very important to the company and to me. Image conveys who you are, what you do and what you can do for the customer.
I wanted to explore whether The Bath + Beyond’s image needed repair or whether it should be left alone. So next to the word “Image” I listed some questions, including: