Exercise Your Mind, Body … and Store

“Active” tips for your retail workout
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Posted June 8, 2016

Recently, a “Being Boss” podcast came across my must-listen-to forecast. Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon, two eclectic creative entrepreneurs, talk about motivation and how viewing your business the way you view fitness could produce winning results. My mind started cycling … or should I say spinning? How can retailers translate and implement workout advice into their store operations?

Here are a few tips on how to keep your store fit and healthy:

Schedule it in: Just like a workout, you have to create space and time to talk about your store. Use that time to brainstorm, share ideas and get those creative juices flowing with other like-minded retailers and creatives. Think of it like a warm-up. A great resource for finding creatives is The Loop or Collabfinder.

Stretch: Attending annual retail events like the International Retail Design Conference (IRDC) are beneficial ways to check out the latest vendor products and educate your team. But have you thought of sponsoring an event? One website, www.endorsevent.com, will connect your business with an event, or connect your event with business sponsors. Test the boundaries within reason by taking what you’ve started or already do, and push forward.

Set goals: Decide where you’d like to see your business grow and plan how you’ll reach those milestones. In five years do you want your store to stun people with incredible window displays? Want it to be known for the best customer service? Maybe it’s time for sales to skyrocket. Whatever the goal, a great way to break down benchmarks into achievable chunks is by naming them. Elise Blaha Cripe, founder of Get to Work Book (www.gettoworkbook.com), believes “the only way to make progress on your big goals is to take things one day at a time.” Get started now and check out her day planner and goal setting journal.

Mix it up: Tired of the gym? Your store environment might be begging for a healthy shake-up, too. If you’re considering an alternative retail venue (or just adding a focal in an existing store), why not look into a welded pop-up structure? Boxman Studios (boxmanstudios.com) fabricates and retrofits shipping containers to meet unique retail needs of clients like BMW, Google and Nike. With the slogan “Just Add People,” they claim to create immersive experiences and execute a wide range of spaces from hangouts to showrooms, to retail pop-ups. Best of all, you’re not stuck in a long term membership - you can rent the containers!

Look in the mirror: Is your store relevant to what’s going on in the world today? Does it reflect the identity of the brand? Are you getting your intended point across? Be open-minded and honest with yourself. Keep checking in and continue to ask the following:

            • Do I like the direction I’m going in?

            • Did this technology work? If not, what fits my store better?

            • Did this investment result in more customers?

Get a trainer: Trainers put you on the right path. They target your results, educate you and monitor your progress. Retail consultants can do the same thing. They help get your store to where you haven’t been able to get it yourself. The most chic people I know have job coaches. Consider hiring a consultant to help you grow in a specific area such as visual merchandising or social media. Have you looked at emulators lately or trend reports? Experts can help you hit those milestones, and then equip you with the tools to continue climbing successfully.

Like working out, doing the hard, boring things in order to stay healthy and fit is the same as doing these tasks to keep your store from the danger of triple bypass surgery (bad press) or even a premature death (store closing). If you’re an older business, that may mean putting in some extra hustle. Any investment you make into your store growth is a step farther, and small steps count, too. As the saying goes: “The only bad workout is no workout.”

Faith Bartrug of FBD Studios (Columbus, Ohio) has more than a decade of experience in transforming national brands. Her background includes brand strategy, environmental design and visual merchandising, and she has been able to practice what she preaches with leading design firms and clients such as Starwood Retail Partners, Neiman Marcus, and JCPenney.