Retailers that are struggling or whose numbers continue to drop may want to consider these factors that may be contributing to their demise.
1. Zero Accountability
If your space is limited, you are not in a position to bring in super specialty items and not top sellers. For example, if you are located anywhere in the area of gentlemen’s clubs you will probably have a better chance of moving smaller sizes than larger.
No one is held accountable for his or her actions. You allow someone to take the reigns in hopes that they will do the right thing and then, when their work is below standards, nothing is done. Instead, these team leaders are coddled by their superiors despite poor performance. They do nothing but make excuses to those to whom they answer to and it’s just accepted. I don’t believe in making people fearful of losing their positions because that extra stress is unnecessary and doesn’t help work productivity, but the line has to be drawn at some point! If you have laid out the guidelines under which you would like your business operated and they are not followed, then your team leader should be given a warning. Allow them the opportunity to step up and shine or make them aware that someone else will have to come in and take that seat.
2. No Structure
How do you expect people to operate without any guidelines, and what does that say about you as an owner if you don’t give them any of the necessary tools needed to be successful? You should be able to have certain expectations of your leaders, but if you don’t outline them, and the leaders don’t read minds, then you are looking at a clear case of the blind leading the blind. In my opinion, this is seen more frequently in the larger chain stores. Instead of focusing on what you already have, you look around at cities where other stores have seen success and then open another store doomed to fail. Let’s make no mistake about it; I am not saying Deja Vu is exempt from these issues.
3. Cleanliness is KEY
It’s bad enough to walk into a dirty store, but pairing that with dirty product is a sure-fire way to lose money. I would think this goes without saying, but after seeing my fair share of adult retail outlets, this is certainly not the case. It gives us as an industry a bad rap! It’s great to hear people come in and say how clean our store is, but how many brick and mortar customers do we lose to online sales specifically because shopping in our genre of stores is downright scary? At the very least, there should be a checklist designed just for keeping shelving and product clean at all times. Your store is a direct reflection of you. Even with door traffic down your best foot should always be forward.
4. Product Placement
Even if you have no experience or knowledge of merchandising, there should be at least one member of staff that is OCD enough to keep same size product in an orderly fashion. If not, I would suggest putting a Nintendo in your break room and allowing the staff to play Tetris on break. Give the person with the highest score the job of resetting your walls. Give your higher ticket items the best seat in the house. Don’t tuck your high-end displays in a dark corner that sees little-to-no customers. I wouldn’t reiterate this if I hadn’t seen it myself.
5. Product Selection
If your space is limited, you are not in a position to bring in super specialty items and not top sellers. For example, if you are located anywhere in the area of gentlemen’s clubs you will probably have a better chance of moving smaller sizes than larger. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a wide variety of sizes, but don’t bring in an equal size run of 3x and 4x as you would of extra small and small. Although we don’t have a crystal ball to foresee what will sell, buyers should have some sort of idea of what trends their specific store sees.
Do not leave it up to your vendors to conduct the only training your staff receives. Invest in your sales team. It will pay off. Often operators think they are saving money by reducing payroll and giving new hires the bare minimum training. We will touch on when and where to save on payroll but this specific area is NOT THE PLACE for cutting corners. If you do not have a formal training guide you will never have your business run in an orderly fashion. Taking the time to train your staff exactly how you like things done will keep everyone on the same page and ensure that your customers receive the highest level of service. This only happens when your staff is knowledgeable and up to speed in all departments ... not just how to use a cash register.
Where this tends to be the biggest issue is when your scheduling manager is a friend to the staff instead of a leader. Your business is no longer a business and now just a hangout for people to get paid while doing so. Limit your staff to what is needed and don’t let it be based on popularity. I’m not saying to schedule so light that it ends up costing you sales, but I am saying only run with an adequate amount of team members for the business you see. When there are less people to talk to, your “Chatty Kathys” will be forced to make conversation with your customers. Building a relationship with your guests is the first step in closing a sale. So by default you will sell more when you staff less. An added bonus is the employees you do have on the clock stay busy so their day goes faster and because of that they are happier in the workplace.
It is easy for a team to lose motivation and twice as hard to work at getting it back. Minimal budgets, training, praise and direction will all factor into that but ultimately someone at the business needs to be self motivating to lift everyone else up... specifically the person in charge. If you have to keep your team leader motivated, who is essentially the highest paid person with the most perks of the job, then it’s time to look for a replacement. We all know when someone is “trying” and when they are defeated. It would be extremely difficult to try new things and get the same result every time. I truly wish nothing but success for this industry and everyone in it and while I am by no means an expert, I am certainly not opposed to helping anyone out there that feel any of the above may apply to them. If any retailers out there would ever like more advice than what is offered here please do not hesitate to send me a quick message and I will do my best to help you out. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t be shy!
With more than 10 years working with Deja Vu’s various branches, Megan Swartz — Deja Vu’s general manager and buyer — has made a name for herself as a dedicated and savvy, merchandising and operations-managing dynamo.