--by Rachael Pritz. RB Retail & Service
November is the perfect month to sit down with your staff to evaluate what went well and not so well while the previous season is still fresh in everyone’s minds. One of the challenges in a seasonal industry is to find creative ways to keep revenue flowing and staff engaged before business gets busy again. Advanced planning can help vastly increase your profit potential in 2020.
This is the perfect time to pick up new (or new-to-you) software features you haven’t yet implemented, as well as touch-up processes that will help your business run more efficiently when sales picks up. Many pool and spa professionals underutilize software features because of the limited time available to train and learn during the busy season. Marketing, lead tracking and inventory cycle counts are among the most underused features and thus need extra attention in the off-season to generate additional business profits.
Your customer database (CRM) has the potential to create profits throughout the year, even in the winter. Remember that if you are an established pool and spa business, you may not need to market to new customers, but rather to customers in your existing database. Look at the functionality in your business software and drill down into your current customers for new business. Find out who hasn’t purchased chemicals lately, who hasn’t had a service call or who has an older model spa. Identify the target audience, then use direct mail, regular emailing, social media and marketing to reach out and bring these people back into your store.
Do you struggle to follow up with all of your leads when business ramps up? Separate current customers from sales leads and create follow-ups to track the sales process. Tracking leads, scheduling sales calls, mailings and generating reports ensure proper and timely follow up.
Inventory cycle counts
Your slow season is the perfect time to establish a schedule of routine counts by product line, aisle/bin, or vendor. Cycle counts will keep your inventory accurate throughout the year and reduce the headache of doing one large count at the end of the year. While you’re at it, purchase a scanner for your physical counts and teach your staff how to use it! Organize inventory further by assigning parts to departments and use automatic reordering to find the perfect inventory balance.
Add new products
Your company might be known as a retailer of pools, spas and chemicals, but why not consider offering patio furniture, BBQs, fireplaces and gas stove inserts? Review the reporting options within your business software and look for trends that might make you consider new products that line up with your current offering or could ‘smooth out’ the seasonality of your business. Specialty retailers that have tight control of their current inventory can easily expand into other products and services without fear. And the winter is the perfect time for employees to learn about a new product line.
This winter, learn something new about your current business software or implement a new software system. Make the most of the slow season, don’t wait!
About the author: Rachael Pritz
Rachael Pritz has been active in the pool industry for more than 20 years. With her technical skills and industry knowledge, she joined the launch of RB Retail & Service Solutions in Pittsburgh in 2003. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]