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From Home Furnishing Business

Ring In Your 2017 Retail Resolutions

Ring In Your 2017 Retail Resolutions
By Tom Zollar

This is the two-year anniversary article for the Coach’s Corner Column and as predicted, 2016 was an exciting and eventful year for our nation, its economy and our customers. Obviously, the election caused a lot of drama and trauma, with many families and friends struggling with each other’s decisions. It appears that the shock to the economy has worn off a bit and the consumers are once again ready to buy products for their homes. We can only hope that the good economic news, such as a seven-year high for consumer confidence, continues and the government does not create any more hurdles than we already have in our path to business growth.

The goal of this magazine is to help our readers navigate these treacherous waters by providing critical information and so they can develop successful strategies for their business. To assist you with that process each year, the January Coach’s Corner article will review the last 12 months of columns to give you ideas about some Retail Resolutions you can create to help your business prosper in the coming year. What follows is a repeat of the positioning statements from last year’s February Resolutions column that introduced this process, plus a listing of the 2016 articles with a brief description of each one.

Most big-time sports teams have an off-season to reflect on what happened last year. Owners evaluate their players, their coaches and management based on the results they achieved. They study their game planning and personnel moves to determine how those processes dealt with the challenges of the last season. When done, they create a plan and set goals for positive change within the organization that will drive performance improvement. Year-in, year-out, the winningest teams are the ones that do the best job performing this process.

In our business we do not have the luxury of an “off-season” for reflection and planning, but that doesn’t mean we do not need to go through the process as much as a sports team does! It is every bit as important for us as it is for them, since historically the most successful businesses are also the best ones at reflecting, correcting and planning. They are always the most prepared for whatever the economy, the consumers and their competitors can throw at them.

Therefore, sometime in the first couple of months of each year, after we’ve gone through the hustle, bustle and distractions of the holiday season, owners, managers and staff need to take time to look back at how they performed last year and analyze what caused it to happen. Obviously you want to replicate or repeat those things that gave you a positive result and replace or rethink those that did not.

Most of you probably take the time to review your sales performance and set goals for performance improvement in that critical area. But do we do enough? A goal is not a plan; it is the result you want the proper execution of your plan to deliver. Many times we want growth and set targets for it without charting a new path to attain them. Einstein is credited with saying: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Therefore, in order to get the desired improvement in results, we need to make changes. Selecting what changes to make is a very critical activity, so many just avoid it.

My hope here is to help you with that process. Each month for the past year we have presented you with an opportunity for positive change that will impact the sales side of your business. Each column targeted an area or process that many stores can improve and provided a brief overview of what could be done to make it happen. Looking back at our last twelve issues will give you a dozen ideas that could help you grow your business. Therefore, this “Dirty Dozen” is a great starting point for your planning process.

I recommend you review those that look interesting to you and select at least three to include in your sales improvement plan for 2017. They are presented in the order they were published, but that might not be how you need to approach them. Best to select those that are most important, then prioritize them based on urgency.

1. January 2016 – “Blueprint for Success” – Product knowledge and display are absolutely critical elements in the selling process for your staff. Do they have all the information they need to maximize their sales? When, who and how are new products being introduced to them? This is a great way to increase sales without spending a dime - improve your team’s communication about why something is on the floor and who would buy it.

2. February 2016 – “Retail Resolutions” – This was the first anniversary column that listed the previous 12 Coach’s Corner topics as referenced above. If you have not already gone back and reviewed those 2015 offerings to create your Retail Resolutions for last year, you now have twice as many potential game changing ideas you can look at for this year’s planning process!

3. March 2016 – “Selling Delivery?” – Since the delivery is the completion of the sale, the final touch so to speak, selling it and/or adding value to it, is something that should be part of the sales process. This article presents some points to help you improve how you add value to this service during the sales process.

4. April 2016 – “WOW ‘Em” – The in-store consumer experience is an area where retailers can differentiate themselves and become a true competitor in their market. You have already done something right by enticing the customer into the store. They believe you have what they want or they wouldn’t waste their time coming in. This article discusses a few critical considerations that could help you stand out from your competitors.

5. May 2016 – “Training the Team” – If we have not properly trained our staff to deal with today’s customer by breaking through their fears and resistance to gain their trust, then we will fail! Updated and effective Sales and Sales Management training is the answer for most retailers. So here are some ideas about how the approach, structure and content of your program can provide the best training for your staff to deliver the impact you desire.

6. June 2016 – “What is not measured cannot be changed” – We all tend to focus our goals and coaching efforts on total sales volume. However, the major problem with focusing on total revenue is that it is the end result of our efforts in so many areas within our business. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to improve a result if that is all you focus on! You just can’t “Coach” a result. You need to break it down into the individual factors that deliver what you want. This column presents some ideas about that process.

7. July 2016 – “Furniture Store Evolution and Tomorrow’s Leaders” - This column discusses that fact that given the proliferation of promotions, the commonality of product and the ever-growing consumer demands for service excellence, our systems, processes and facilities will need to keep pace with all the competitors, and so will your people. The key to that happening is state-of-the-art management skills and leadership. How do we develop them?

8. August 2016 – “Tracking the Sales Power of your Advertising Efforts” - Most retailers look at their sales metrics as only giving them the results of their selling effort. When in reality, virtually any sales report also provides great insight into how your advertising is delivering sales. This article looks at ways for you to use some existing sales metrics reports to help you improve the power and focus of your efforts in that area.

9. September 2016 – “How Can the Internet Support and Enhance your Selling Effort?” – Probably the single greatest impact on the entire retail landscape since the turn of this century has come from the introduction, growth and evolution of the Internet as both a research/educational tool and retail distribution channel. Here are some ideas on how to use it to help us instead of hurt us!


10. October 2016 - “Avoiding Some of the Pitfalls of New Technology” – Sometimes in our excitement and desire to embrace new ideas, we rush forward without properly considering if it is actually the best thing for us to do. Other times we might not have the discipline to properly implement a new program. This article discusses how to reduce the possibility of having an unintended negative result from bringing innovative new ideas, systems and/or processes into your selling organization.


11. November 2016 – “Two Opportunities for Improvement with Today’s Consumers in Our Stores” – We all agree that the consumer entering our stores today is far different than the ones our industry served 20 years ago, yet many of our staff are still using the same approach to selling them that they learned way back then. This column presents the two biggest things we need to change in the selling process to be more successful today.


12. December 2016 – “Future Focused” – This article is a great preparation tool for the resolution process that this current article presents because it talks about “How to Plan for a Better 2017” by setting goals and creating an Action Plan in all the areas that impact your sales success. Read it before you begin your planning and resolution setting process!

If you need any further advice or help with your plan or these “projects”, please feel free to contact me at:

You can find the Home Furnishing Business archive of past issues at:

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