By Peter Sheppard
Head of Implementation, Retail Doctor Group
Every athlete has to be brilliant at the basics.
I get it, we live in a world of instantaneous gratification – millionaires created at the push of a social media button with companies valued 2 trillion dollars for data and distribution; athletes that seemingly can win medals without going through preparation; retailers and “experts” that can build amazing business models without even understanding the heartland of high-performance retail.
Above all, in this amazing transformation we are lucky enough to live in, it is important to ask ourselves:
- Are we business athletes being brilliant in the basics?
- Has change itself changed the very basis of a strong understanding of the retail basics?
- How relevant are the fundamentals of running a modern retail business today relative to just 5 years ago?”
- “What have we done recently to make sure that we, including our key decision makers, are keeping up with an ever-changing level of knowledge and skills in the competitive mix, regardless of what customers are expecting?”
- “How much time do we set aside on a weekly basis to improve our skills?”
The answers to these questions can be quite thought provoking and revealing, reflecting how we think about the business. It makes one realise that no matter how experienced you are in your field, even being a qualified, degreed, experienced operator, does not necessarily mean you are a good fit for today’s challenges and benchmarks.
In one of the many examples, I asked myself, “With all the advanced technology and information available to us today, why are we not increasing some of the fundamental efficiencies in running a retail business?”
Take stockturn for instance, it is indeed one of the key metrics for any retailer that holds its own stock. Twenty years ago, it was thought that 10 weeks forward cover (5 stockturns a year) in fashion was the benchmark. Back then, we had far inferior information on sell-throughs by item, poorer communications, slower manufacturing lead times, slower intercontinental transport times etc. than we do today.
Why, then, is the same stockturn rate happening today as twenty years ago in most fashion retailers? Why has it not improved, despite the multiple significant benefits in finance employed or newness of offer? Is it because a “That’s the way we do it.” culture has set in, and we are comfortable with it that way? Or does it have to do with the “We do not know what we do not know” syndrome? By increasing stockturns by 1 turn, from 5 to 6, reduces capital employed by up to 20%.
One of the explanations for this lack of improvement could be that we are not building a learning and developing culture for our business. We are not set out to achieve continuous improvement by seeking advice and knowledge from the best practices available.
When did you last reach out to find a way to improve your business, to devise strategies, to lead your team, to measure your results against the industry benchmarks…or to find out how good a retailer you are?
Executive coaching can be a significantly rewarding and affordable way of self- improvement, business growth and creating a winning formula for the business. Most successful leaders do it regularly, on a continuous basis, as they find it so rewarding.
There is the old adage, “If you are not going forward, you are going backwards”. This certainly applies to your own ability in an information-rich world that has many moving parts with dire outcomes, if you do not keep up.
It’s time to consider an investment in coaching that will lead to tremendous improvements in the way you lead your team and manage your business.