All of us are only too aware of the predictions of challenging times this year.
This is a time, as the cliché goes, for ‘survival of the fittest’, and there is much that independent retailers can do to sustain their business and protect their margins.
We have to approach the season with confidence, but with a more focused business model. With mortgage rates and fuel and energy prices predicted to fall, consumers will have money to spend and will need a ‘treat factor’ amid all this gloom, so it is important to know how and with what to tempt them.
Tough times call for indies to up their game with a better offer, stronger customer service, and improved marketing and communication, while also keeping business costs lean with fewer margins for error.
As long as retailers create demand with great product and focus on value for money, then there is no reason why customers will not be tempted to part with their money.
Cash flow management will be paramount. Therefore, prioritising your key suppliers and taking advantage of early settlement discounts should be planned to further support margins.
Negotiation of rent relief or a better payment deal could also be sought. In fact, every aspect of the business should be challenged to forge a strategy of tighter business maintenance.
Getting people through the door is key. Text or email your customer about that frock, do whatever it takes. If you have got what they want, don’t wait - this is a numbers game.
Customers respond to being treated with importance. Good fortune is bred from hands-on hard work and will be rewarded.
So, keep the passion and enjoy the challenge.
- Geraldine Bennett is UK managing director of Oui Group, which includes the Set and Oui & Co brands