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A message from our CEO & Director of Retail Planning, Dan Holman

Friends & Family,
Well, to say the last week (or so) has been scary is an understatement. Our livelihoods become at risk with an intense fear of the unknown… Now is the time to be at the top of our game as we move through this “disruption”. If we haven’t yet spoken or have a plan to meet and you want to, I have included a link to my calendar (click here); schedule time as you need. Everyone on my teams at The Wealthy Retailer® & Canadian Retail Solutions AND our strategic Retail Partners are here to support you and your business!
This, much like many of the unprecedented occurrences (fires, floods, 911, storms, 2008, etc., etc.) we have experienced, show us the things we have absolutely no control over make the things we do (our response, our inventory & our teams) a little harder to manage. I know you work hard to play and maintain an offensive position in businesses but in times like this, defense is where we NEED to live.
We can come out of this stronger, leaner and healthier. We need to look internally at our business practices, communication with our vendors (both inventory & non-inventory vendors), employees, and customers – this is extremely important, now more than ever before.
Here are a few quick to-do’s/don’ts:

  1. Immediately send out (and continue to send out) a social media post AND email to your entire customer base letting them know you are taking the proper precautions to keep them safe if they visit your store. They DO NOT need to see a video of you cleaning – be real with them! People will not stop shopping; they will want and look for a safe place to go (if allowed). The customer experience has proven to be the winning formula for successful retail – create one that makes people feel comfortable. For those who want to maintain social distancing, offer home delivery, free shipping, in-store appointments before or after hours. Facetime & Text shopping should also be options. If you don’t have an ecommerce site already, let’s talk about some quick options to get you there.
  2. Do Not Liquidate! There is no need to heavily discount goods to get your customer to buy. Maintain pricing and your current clearance/markdown strategy.
  3. Review your on-order by vendor. Communicate with each and every one of your vendors for March, April & May deliveries. We need to know what WILL ship/arrive. Please communicate to your vendors you require for all orders (this isn’t just limited to now) to be approved in writing before they ship. This is a non-negotiable – boxes must be refused if you, as the business owner are unaware of what is coming. If shipments are going to be delayed and/or late, free shipping and discounts are required. Communicate you are looking for a true partnership with your vendors if business declines due to the pandemic. Stress that you understand how this will also affect them and you want to maintain a healthy partnership – we are in this together! If you are not confident in their compliance – call your CC company (if you are on CC terms) and let them know you do not want any non-chip transactions to go through. This will force the vendors to call you for approval. In some cases, you may need to report your card lost and get a new one sent ASAP. If you have terms, request extended terms for 60-120 days prior to shipping.
  4. Vendor Scorecarding. Now is the time to look at vendors that are not A performers in your stores. If they do not want to comply with the above, do you really need them? There will always be exceptions to the rule, be mindful, look at your cash margin for each vendor as you order today and for Fall. If you need help with reports, call us!
  5. Fall 2020. There is uncertainty about production for Fall and need to ask ourselves two things – will production be at full capacity and will business be back to normal? Both are unknowns. My suggestion is leave 25%-30% of your planned inflow open for Fall deliveries in the event business is lighter than forecasted. Look for higher margin goods from vendors. Discuss RTV opportunities and markdown dollars if sell-through after 30 days is less than 50-60%. Work with your vendors – those that do not want to work with you, move on. We’re all in this together!
  6. Expenses – KNOW your breakeven. Please feel free to send me current financials; I can review & update a breakeven with multiple scenarios. I can help identify the potential effects of a slowdown if expenses remain static. Some very tough conversations with landlords, employees, outside vendors may need to happen. If you have loans, schedule a call/meeting with the bank and negotiate adjusted terms (suspension of payments or interest only) for the next 90 days, 6 or even 12 months. Call your landlords, talk to them, we may need an abatement for the short-term – make them aware now. These things are very important, if our cash reserve goes away because we are operating business as usual, we will be up against some tough decisions tomorrow.
  7. Our Partners. Management One have created a 6 part webinar with information on how to protect and push through this disruption. Get registered for these right now. Here is a link. Bob Negen with Whizbang! Training is sharing great information on their facebook page, join and watch the updates! Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doc is also sharing great insight and information. Get on his website and be informed. The Wealthy Retailer® Podcast will shift to a Covid-19, WHAT CAN WE DO theme for the next 4 weeks with scheduled guests including, Bob Negen, Crystal Vilkaitis, Ashley Alderson and Margo Kopman – Subscribe on your favourite podcast platform if you haven’t already. Now more than ever, we need support and education – take full advantage of what is available and relevant to your business!

Last, but certainly not least, DO NOT panic. I know this is easier said than done but together, we got this!
Again, if you want to meet or just talk, I’m here. You can book time in my calendar OR text me (587-784-3404).
Stay strong & positive, the next few weeks and months are going to test us all.
We got this!

Dan Holman
CEO, Director of Retail Planning
Canadian Retail Solutions
780-449-0070 ext 206