Profitable Retailing For Your Organization By Dave Geier, President, Geier Enterprises, Inc.
Perhaps your organization has pondered the idea of how it might participate in the $24-billion pet supplies industry. There are a couple of good reasons to do so: to provide additional financial resources for your organization to support the important work you do; and to provide a valuable service to the new adopter you have just created. Before you act on what seems to be an idea that makes sense, there are several issues you need to understand, and for which you need to be prepared. The first issue to consider is what space you have available for your retail operation. As you begin, it is best that you use the space you already have more effectively. This space generally should be convenient to your adoption area to make it more convenient for the new pet owner to shop the products you have available. By using walls and floor space in an efficient manner, you may be surprised at the kind of revenues you could generate. I would not recommend extensive remodeling or building on new space for retailing until you have proven that it is right for your organization and that you can make it work. If you’re successful, you can decide if expansion is warranted and especially if it can be self-funding.
A second consideration is how you will staff the store. The most important reason to have the store staffed during regular adoption hours is to have someone to explain the product selection, answer any questions and process the sale. At the same time there is the security of the store to consider with the investment you have made in product inventory. If your location is adjacent to your adoption desk in the waiting/reception area, then security is less of an issue, but someone needs to be available to answer any questions and not be tied down with adoption processing, as people will only wait so long to get service. Many organizations tend to want to use volunteers to actually staff the store, with an employee doing the merchandise selection, purchasing, merchandising and generally managing store operations. While this may suffice for a time, it is always a challenge to train and count on a “regular shift” from the volunteers to get the job done. Here again, the best solution, if it can be justified by the revenues from the operation, is to have someone available on staff full-time to assist the volunteers and manage the operation. If you can’t properly man the store during regular hours then you would be better served to have it open only when you know your
adoption traffic is heaviest, and try to sell what you can during those times. Another important decision has to do with the computer cash register that you commit to the retail operation. If possible this system should be the same one through which you process your adoption fees and account for other expenses. It will need to have a feature that allows it to track a perpetual (ongoing) inventory of the items purchased and sold, to properly maintain control of the inventory. This allows you to analyze sales by item so you know what is selling, and to reorder the product appropriately. It also identifies slow sellers that should be marked down and sold so you have those dollars to buy merchandise, rather than keeping it tied up in inventory. Integral to this process is scanning products by their UPC (Uniform Product Code), manually entering the UPC, or manually entering your own stock number to track inventory. Because of the potential reliance on volunteers or part-time staff, whatever system you have must be simple to operate to charge the right amount and make the right change as necessary. A critical question for your retail operation, as it is for ANY store, is: “who is my customer and what continued on page 27
24 Paws to Think •Summer 2004 • Volume 3, Issue 3 • The Pet Savers Foundation • www.petsavers.org
PAWS to Thnk, Volume 3 issue 3