I recently did a review of my website and marketing materials. While it was a bit tough to look at some of the mistakes I made, I would rather look now and make changes rather than ignoring them and having potential clients question my abilities.
While you perform a series of reviews like this any time of year, January offers a good time to reassess your sales team, marketing, buying, customers, and social media reviews.
Here are 7 things to review at the start of the year:
Your Sales Team. While many abhor an annual review, (I’m more in favor of regular conversations rather than evaluations,) now is a good time to look at all that your individual employees did for you the past 60 days. Were they on time? Were they willing to trade when someone couldn’t make it? How did their retail sales stack up against each other? Did they become a problem trying to regularly alter their scheduled times? A review now, while the information is fresh, will help you decide who to let go of and who you will keep to build your retail sales in 2017.
Your Marketing. You most certainly were running promotions to get shoppers in the door. What worked? How will you know later? What could have used more thought? What was something you saw someone else tried that you’d like to try next year? Now’s the time to jot all your thoughts into one document and label Holiday 2017 before you get distracted.
Your Buying. While individual SKUs can become breakaway holiday hits - think Cabbage Patch dolls, that Speak Out game, a specific plaid overcoat - and even Chia pets - they usually are not applicable year to year. What is applicable is categories of merchandise. What categories did better? Where were they placed in the store? What signage did you use that was especially effective? The more detail you can gather now, the more actionable information you’ll have when you go to markets.
Your Customers. Is it time to fire someone who habitually returned your merchandise? Are your loyal customers growing on your email list? Will you be able to chart if their average visits per year increased? Did your POS system capture enough sales data to see if spending habits changed? The more detailed the information you can get now from your POS and CRM systems, the more you can focus your promotions next year without a shotgun of discounts and coupons.
Your Online Reviews. You should monitor your own Facebook business page daily to reply to any and all reviews. You don’t want to get into a war on he said/she said, but you do want to acknowledge anyone who is upset, then apologize and suggest they contact you offline. All anyone wants to see is you made an effort. Do the same thing on your Yelp page and also do a Twitter search of your business name to see anything you might have missed. Finally, do a Google search (with your business name and the word review in the search bar) to see if there are more out there. Then fix it here.
Your website. A website is not a thing to set and forget. New copy that directly shows consumers what they will find when they visit your store, helpful articles or blogs, edited Facebook live videos are all good to keep the search engines delivering you higher than competitors. This is best left to professionals, and one I really like lately is Local Signal, a website and local marketing software company that helps customers find your business.
Your store. There's a fine line between a charmingly old-fashioned look and one that is depressingly out of touch. A can of paint, new carpet, and dozens of new LED lights can revive the energy in any brick and mortar store. Have a contest with your employees to see who can make the longest list of chipped linoleum, faded paint, stains on the ceiling or carpet, and the like. Then combine and prioritize to fix those things new customers are sure to be turned off by. (Don't forget the smell test as well.)
While end of the year performance reviews are fairly common, especially for commission based employees, the rest of these have less perceived value. But that's where you need to shift your thinking...
When you have a new business, you checked all of these things fastidiously to learn how to get ahead. Unfortunately, as we get more secure, we let ourselves become smug our customers love us.
Tell that to Sports Authority, Claire's Stores, True Religion Apparel, Nine West Holdings, Rue21, 99 Cents Only Stores, Sears, and Sport Chalet - all who have either closed or are in danger according to Business Insider.
For many companies, a performance audit of your marketing, purchasing, website, and social media reviews will help answer the questions of to how to grow your sales in 2017.