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From Home Furnishing Business

Coach’s Corner: Get a Head Start on Your Retail Resolutions for 2020

by Tom Zollar,

Last year in honor of the Power 50 issue, I used this column to present what I believe is one of the big differences between highly successful businesses and those that are not as prosperous. From my experience, those companies that take the time to study their performance and create proactive plans to improve their results each year, tend to outperform those that prefer to “shoot from the hip”, so to speak. As a result of going through this process, they are always the most prepared for whatever the economy, the consumers and their competitors can throw at them. Most of you probably take the time to review your sales performance and set goals for performance improvement in that critical area. But is that 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 get to 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 planning activity.

Our goal here at HFB is to help our readers improve the performance of their businesses by providing critical information, ideas and advice, so they can develop successful growth strategies for their companies. To assist you with that process, each year we have produced a Coach’s Corner article that reviews the last 12 months of columns to give you some ideas about potential items you could include in your plan to help your business prosper in the coming year. We call them “Retail Resolutions” for the next year.

In the past we have given you this list in our January issue and received many positive comments. However, it was also brought to my attention that we really should provide our readers with this information in the December Power 50 issue, so they can use it to set goals and create plans prior to kicking off the new year. This seems to make sense, so we have moved it up a month.

As before, I recommend you review the entire list, reread the articles that look interesting to you and then select two or three ideas to include in your sales improvement plan for 2020. They are presented in the order published, but that may not be how you need to approach them. Best to select those that are most important, then prioritize them based on urgency.

Here is what we gave you to think about the last twelve months to help you plan for the next twelve:

- December 2018 – Proactive Planning Produces Power 50 Performances – The big question I often get is: why do some organizations tend to always be at or near the pinnacle of their area of endeavor and others always lag behind? The answer boils down to the fact that they are great at studying how they did and figuring out ways to do better in every aspect of their game or business. The best sports teams analyze each area of their game and at the end of the year set targets for improvement during the next season. Once they know where they want to go, they create plans to get there. The best companies do the same thing. Here are some thoughts that may help you move the needle next year by starting off with a solid plan for what you want to accomplish.

- January 2019 – Retail Resolutions – Just like this column, last year’s issue listed the previous twelve Coach’s Corner topics. If you have not already gone back and reviewed the 2018 offerings to create your Retail Resolutions for 2019, you now have twice as many potential game changing ideas you can look at for next year’s planning process!

- February 2019 – Do Your Customers Know More Than Your Salespeople?– Have you ever heard of a customer saying: “It felt like I knew more about what the store offered than the salesperson did!” That is a very scary thought, but unfortunately, if you are not consistently communicating with your staff about your products, promotions and website, it is probably happening in your store every day. Here are some thoughts about making sure your customers are not saying this about you.

- March 2019 – Are You Harvesting All the Low Hanging Fruit You Can? – Lowhanging fruit is used to describe those things that are perceived as being easier to acquire than others. It also can refer to those items that give a greater return than others for the same or less effort. Here is a short list of some of the places a home furnishings retailer could look to find some low-hanging fruit they might be missing or at least not maximizing.

- April 2019 – Choose Your Battles for the Customers in Your Marketplace Carefully – It appears that all the research and expert opinions tend to point to the same issues and opportunities for retailers who are battling for customers in their marketplace. Common sense and a solid approach to capitalizing on your real opportunities to differentiate yourself from competitors, remain the best way to win!

- May 2019 – What Should My Sales Manager Be Doing? – Ever wonder what your sales manager should be doing to drive sales performance improvement in your store? If so, your sales manager is probably wondering the same thing! Here are some thoughts about what we have seen working for successful retail stores to help them guide their sales management efforts.

- June 2019 – What Do Top Sales Professionals Think About The Numbers? – Do your salespeople ignore, fear or totally reject the performance metrics you use to coach their selling efforts? If so, perhaps you need to revisit the importance of these numbers with them to gain their buy in and help them be more successful running their “personal business” within your store.

- July 2019 – Some Words of Wisdom About How to Be Successful – One of the leading authorities on how to be successful was Zig Ziglar. Throughout his career he delivered countless presentations designed to both educate people about how to succeed and motivate them to try harder to make it happen. I saw him 25 years ago and his words still ring true today. Here are my thoughts about some of the main points he made about how to achieve success.

- August 2019 – Why Some New Retail Innovations May Fail in Your Store – Implementing an innovative new system, process or procedure in your store is not always as easy as it sounds. People resist change and unless you follow the correct steps and make all the necessary efforts, there is a good chance you could fail to get it done. Here are a few ideas that could help make the difference between your success or failure.

- September 2019 – Selling WITH the Internet Instead of AGAINST It – Has our fear of competition from the Internet caused us to miss an opportunity to use it as a tool to help our customers find what they are looking for? If most consumers start their search online, how can we incorporate it into our process to help them find what they want and get it? Here are some thoughts about where the Web is going and how it might be a good sales process asset for us.

- October 2019 – Turning Staff Downtime into Sales Uptime! – What are your staff members doing when they aren’t working with customers on the selling floor? Making personal calls? Shopping on the Internet? Cruising the Web? Napping? Chatting? Arguing with each other? The fact is some or all of these staff activities go on daily in most stores. It is the old cliché about idle hands. Here are some thoughts and a recommended activities list to help you turn unproductive staff downtime into productive sales uptime!

- November 2019 – The Battle to Get |Today’s Consumers Attention – Getting your message out to today’s busy consumers is getting tougher to do. They are bombarded with information about buying opportunities and their attention span has shrunk considerably over the last 20 years. Take a look at one way the big online retailers may be breaking through the clutter to reach their targeted audience. 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: http://

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