Last updateTue, 17 Sep 2019 9pm

David Brown

Are you doing the $100 tasks?

One of the downsides of being a small business operator is the many hats that have to be worn. You’re often the human resources department, the company President, the marketing department, the sales force, the administration department and production all rolled into one. The bigger the business the easier it is to allocate these tasks, but for a store with limited or no staff this can be difficult – but not impossible.

Reorder your way to a profitable 2010

Now that the end of year rush is over, the first few months of a new year can see more cash flowing out than flowing in as December purchases fall due for payment.  In an effort to keep the bank balance under control it is tempting to not reorder good sellers at this point, justifying the decision by the level of debt or, in some cases, claiming that items that sold well at Christmas won’t necessarily sell well during the rest of the year.

Have you bought a job or do you own a business?

For most people, the appeal of self-employment can consist of a number of factors but the top two answers are probably a desire for greater income and more freedom.

Often getting into self-employment can be an emotional decision made through rose-colored glasses. It has to be said, however, that few people who become self-employed ever have a desire to go back to working for someone else – the pluses do outweigh the minuses.

Are you ready for Grand Final time?

Whenever I ask a jewelry retailer what the most important time of year is for their business, I get a look as if to say “you must be kidding right?”. Even a ten year old will tell you that most retail stores, but particularly jewelers, have their busiest time in the lead up to the year end.

However, if I ask that same jeweler how they are preparing for their biggest month of the year there is normally a reaction somewhere between a puzzled expression and a shuffling of feet. Most jewelers take very little time to prepare themselves for their most profitable period - the month that often decides whether the business will make a profit for the year or not.

Dealing with vendors in-store

The phone is ringing. A battery needs to be put into a watch for a customer and there is another repair to be done to a chain for a lady who will be back in five minutes. The insurance broker is due this afternoon, the registration is due to be paid on the car and the computer system hasn’t been updated from last week’s stock take. Then a diamond vendor that had called yesterday and said he was coming at 10:30 has arrived ten minutes early.

You and your vendor – how to make the relationship work

"A General is just as good or bad as the troops under his command make him." - Gen. Douglas McArthur

In the same way that a General depends on his soldiers to move forward, a jeweler's success will rise and fall depending on who he works with. Aside from staff and customers the other human resource crucial to a business which is often overlooked by many store owners is the vendor - after all, without him there is no product to sell.

Vendor relationships are as varied as there are human emotions. Antagonism can often develop caused by either party and it is easy to see your vendor as being on the other side of the fence. Yet despite any differences, you share a strong common bond - you both benefit from seeing more of their product being sold to your customers. From this perspective you can see yourself less as friendly adversaries and more as united partners.

So how can you make this relationship stronger?

  • Make a commitment to your vendor. The more you spend with them the more valuable you become and the more they will do for you in return. You know with your own business that the customers who spend the most with you get the best treatment. If you spend a little each with thirty different suppliers you can't expect the same treatment as you would if you spend a lot with ten.
  • Re-order your fast sellers. This is basic common sense for both you and your vendor. What is the cost of bringing in a new item? The wholesale price? No. For you it's the time you spend looking at the reps range, the cost of travelling to trade fairs and the setting up of the item in your computer system along with your staff's time with display tickets and getting it displayed. For your vendor it's the design and set up costs and the travel to retailers or trade shows. What is the cost to you both when you reorder that item? Ignoring freight and restocking, the only cost is an e-mail and the price of the goods and the same is true of your vendor. The profit comes, for both of you, when that item sells a second, third, fourth and fifth time. What's more, the chances of an item selling again when it has already sold once is four times as great as a brand new item that you've just brought in.
  • Pay your bills when they are due. Will a vendor show his best stock to the customer who meets his obligations or the one he has to hound for payment? I know what I would do.

So enough of keeping your end of the bargain. What more do you gain from all of this?

This is the best part! A retailer with a strong relationship with a vendor will often find the other party is able to do the following:

  • Offer you their best price. Doors open when you commit to a vendor. Like anyone, they can do better deals the more you spend, and it need not be an upfront payment. A promise to reach certain buying targets over an extended period will see you get the best price possible.
  • Provide memo inventory. Certain vendors can only provide large quantities of this in a limited capacity, but almost all are able to send you some extra pieces around special promotional periods or to show special customers. Again, the ability to take advantage of this will depend on the level they value your business and the extent to which you are prepared to reorder what sells. It is in both your interests to get good sellers back whether they are items you own or have on memo.
  • Exchange slow moving inventory. Again it's in the interests of both of you that old items are moved out to make way for product that can sell several times over. The vendor can often on-sell this to another retailer, however there is no point in asking 18 months after you've bought it when the market has changed. This product needs to move on while the vendor can still sell it.
  • Exclusivity. You can sometimes find the items you buy can be exclusive to you in your shopping centre or town. You can also get first choice in new items when they are introduced to the range.
  • Customer evenings. Your vendors will often provide you with extra product or specials for these events and even attend in-store evenings themselves with their full range of products.

As the good General also said; "We are not retreating - just advancing in a different direction."

If you need help with controlling your inventory and securing a better arrangement with your vendors contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

How to eliminate your aged inventory

One of the larger banes in the life of any retailer is the problem of old product - those items you thought were a good buy, but once in-store proved not to be the case. Sadly, it's a reality of retail. Even the best buyers (despite what they might tell you) will only get 20-30% of their buying right. Aged inventory is as sure as the sun rising. The issue is, how do you deal with it? For every store there are only four options: