Friday, March 28, 2008

Cash Flow And Being Thrifty!

I was brought up with the notion that you when you buy something you go for the best price, even if it's a bit more than you need right now you know down the line that you'll use it. I now realize this isn't a good way of doing business in regards to cash flow problems.

What I (we) need to do is not bring my (our) personal spending styles to my (our) business. When faced with a buying decision we should mentally review and calculate what is the best business decision to make in regards to cash flow.

Now ABC company has a great item you want to bring into your store. You think it will be well received and your customers will buy it. Now minimum order is $100 but if you spend $500 you get free shipping. Click there goes that thrifty mindset on getting something of value for free.

But it's really not free because you've just invested $500 in merchandise that you are not sure will do well in your store. The $100 order would make a nice display and if they sell of course you'll make a bit less profit because shipping isn't free but it's a much safer investment for your money to just order the small amount and not get caught up in bargains. If it goes really well then do the bigger order.

I love sales and bargains and they just seem to find me and because I have an impulsive nature it's a problem. Hopefully I've learned my lesson after getting rid of about $300 worth of inexpensive jewelry for free to a friend who has a store that might do better selling it than I did. I tried everything to sell that stuff from ebay to garage sales to flea markets, but I realized that I was wasting my energy and time (especially when the flea market yeilded me $0.00 for 7 hours of work. )

So this morning I was up early and thinking about this and how I'm just moved to buy more because shipping is less. Now there's inventory to think about how to move it out and that's not a smart business move.

Now I'm not saying to keep your store empty with just a small amount of stuff, that's not my point. I'm saying that when you are purchasing an item don't make the decision to buy more because there is a sale.

Cash flow is king in the business world, not saving dollars and cents. Think cash flow first before making a buying decision.



Sunday, March 9, 2008

Soap Has New Companions!


Well, has launched it's new line of body wash, lotion and massage oil. I'm extremely proud of them. You can see them at our website (link above).

I love color and all of my soaps reflect that. I think that bright, happy colors can put a smile on anyones face and that's my intention. So when we developed our bath gel line I was adamant on them also having great color appeal and I'm pretty sure we have accomplished that. Now the lotion... I opted to keep that in it's natural color.

Same with the massage oil. But John our in-house graphic designer made sure that the labels were colorful but simple.

All three products have been tested in my store and my direct selling division and they all do very well. I wouldn't launch a product wholesale unless I knew it would do well for my retail customers. I feel very confident that a store can bring these products in and do well with them, also. Of course there are ways that it won't do well and I'll discuss that later.

The body wash has lots of color, some pumice and bamboo in it for exfoliating, plus lots and lots of suds. Use this wash with a favorite scrubby or wash cloth and it will last a long time.

The milk and honey lotion is sooo rich and thick that just a bit goes a long way. Now, I've tested many formulas and I'm pretty particular about what I want. I hate a lotion that you rub on and it creates a drag feeling as you are rubbing it in. That was one of my criterias for a good lotion (lack of drag) and, of course, the other was that it not feel greasy. When customers are sampling our lotions they are amazed how little they need.

Massage oil is my favorite. This is one of my morning rituals of getting out of the shower and applying the massage oil to my damp skin. The oil soaks right in and does not feel greasy. Massage therapists will love it also because it doesn't stain sheets.

Each of the products are in a very good price range, retail price of both the lotion and bath wash is $12 and the massage oil is $9.

To sell soap products successfully you need to have impact. If you decide to sell my bath gel, lotion and massage oil and order only 3 of each you are setting yourself up for failure. Sitting only 3 of each on a shelf will make the customer think it's the bottom of the barrel and it's merchandise that's been sitting around for awhile. You need a bit of impact and think about how a test of 6 bottle sets (preferable all the same scent), would look as opposed to just 3. It will draw your customers attention and create possible a sale every time.

Think about how these new products will fit in your store and how you'll be displaying them. All important things to keep in mind when you want a product to do well in your store and, of course, make you money.

In our retail store in Tarpon Springs our bath gel and lotion sit on a shelf with the matching soaps and massage oils. We keep the bath gels and lotions together (about 9 of each), a loaf soap, and then the massage oils this is for one scent.

It took some tweaking in our new store to get it right and we knew when we were on to something when groups of the same fragrant products started selling.

I would love to discuss with you your display dilemmas. Feel free to send comments and questions about your own display problems and solutions!


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Location Location and Location!!

Well I bit the bullet and moved my store.

I always wanted to have a store in an out of the way place and have it become a very popular place to visit. That's what my goal was for Soapier when I opened my store in Tarpon Springs in 2006 at it's location on Safford Ave.

Safford Ave is in the historical district of Tarpon off the main thoroughfare of Tarpon Ave. I know many many businesses have become successful even when they are off the main path of shoppers, I thought I could do that also.

Maybe I could have, but my focus wasn't just on retail. I have a web site (actually 2) and a wholesale business that needed my attention. The retail store took up time but to make Soapier a brand name and a place customers hunted for (and returned to) took up more time and resources than I had.

Plus, having the manufacturing in the same store (and with some rush orders) it never failed that product that was to be shipped always spilled over in to the retail portion of the store making for a less than pristine looking retail space. So we battled with keeping the store looking good while rushing to manufacture for our wholesale customers.

The Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs is a wonderful place to visit and I'm told it gets 1 to 2 million visitors a year.

Hmmm... lots of foot traffic!

So I met a fellow store owner down there and he recommended I see his landlord for a space in The Sponge Exchange Mall.

To make a long story short (too late), I did that and I got a space for a reasonable rent with more than enough square footage to merchandise my products.

Now "the season" ends in 6 weeks and I was determined not to miss a day of it. (The season is during the cold months up north when the snow birds come to stay for the winter in Florida)

Our lease started on March 1st and the other tenant moved out on the evening of February 28th so we (myself, my daughter and son) took leap year day to paint, clean and move in ready for opening on March 1st.

Are you wondering if we did it? We did and the store looks good. It is a work in progress but our sales for yesterday surpassed anything we did on a normal Saturday at the old store. I'll post our pictures of before, during, and after.

So now I'm convinced if you are going to open a store do it in a good location and pay the additional rent... it's usually worth it. The fighting for customers on an off-the-beaten-track location is an uphill battle depleting energy and monetary resources that you might have been able to use in a more productive way in a better location.

Our old location will still be ours but it will only be our manufacturing plant. We did need more space for that so the new store helped us out in that way also.

It was fun but very tiring and I'll be taking my vitamins just to get some energy back.

One of my philosophies is don't give up. Try to think of new and different ways to get business back on track.