SR Panel: End of Year Tips

What the panelists are doing to close out 2017 and prepare for 2018

We change gears about this time of year preparing for the winter season and thinking about the new year.

Starting in August, we advertise that 2017 floor and in-stock models are now reduced as part of our marketing initiative.
Since we carry a large volume of Master Spas product, we identify in our inventory list what spas are eligible for this promotion and offer savings for these specific models. All salespeople carry around this list of 2017 product. In our advertising we have a floor-model coupon and use this in the store and at sales events.

We also take this time of year to free up cash flow from these sales to take advantage of early-buy programs being offered by the manufacturers. These can offer valuable savings and really increase profitability when taken advantage of. If you have extra capital to invest it is always a good idea to explore the possibilities of an even larger early buy with your suppliers. We have done this to the mutual benefit of our company and some suppliers we deal with.
Finally, we start thinking about the new year approaching and start planning. This includes the following:
• setting calendar dates for next years sales
• showroom improvements (we like to invest in our showroom each year to keep ahead of the competition. This year we added a deck and a gazebo to create a backyard vignette.)
• employee training and education (we subscribe to a top sales trainer’s program)
• inventory counts and reconciliation with our accounting software
• cleaning and organizing the warehouse
• doing an advertising budget and allocation based on market response to current years advertising and as a percentage of sales.

Premium Wholesale Home & Leisure, Kitchener and Mississauga, Ontario
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Here is what we’re in the midst of doing:
We are preparing to move our warehouse (after 23 years in the same location!) to a new larger facility more central to our entire region. It is 20,483 square feet (versus the VERY inadequate 9,680 square feet we’re living with right now). Getting into a new warehouse is critical for us to plan for any future growth and better support our existing stores and customers.

Reviewing and revamping our e-store. With e-commerce continuing to be such a huge factor in retail selling, we want to do a refresh on our e-store.
My leadership team (myself, service and operations manager and sales manager) will meet in October to have a one-day long-range planning meeting. We’ll discuss plans for all of 2018, review and flesh out a marketing calendar for the year and discuss expansion opportunities. Our business analyst is also involved in a portion of the meeting. He will review our year to date performance, and we’ll go over any planned major expenses for the coming year to make sure he feels we’ll be able to achieve what we plan or if we need to reassess. My marketing agency will also be involved. She will create an overview for me to review for 2018 and we’ll budget for TV and radio marketing. My sales manager will present a sales plan and we’ll review and adjust. My service and operations manager will present ideas to increase revenue on the service side of the business, as well as present any ideas to help reduce overall expenses for the company.
We will bring in an outside sales trainer to do a two-day training with our entire sales team in October to gear them up for making the most out of the final quarter of 2017.

— DON RILING, Olympic Hot Tub, owner
Six in the Seattle metro