Whether you pledge to eat healthier food, manage your stress level or save more money in 2014, New Year’s resolutions are a great opportunity to re-examine your personal goals and set the tone for the next 365 days. The same rings true in the world of small business. In fact, for lighting showroom owners like Carrie Arnold of Phillips Lighting & Home in Modesto, CA, making a plan for the year ahead is an essential part of running a successful business.
“As we gear up for new year floor sample sales and getting ready for market, we are looking to decide what we would like to do differently this year,” says Arnold.
But drawing out a road map for a new year isn’t always easy.
“You have to know where you want to be in order to get there,” says Sanford Fogg, owner of Fogg Lighting in Portland, ME.
The key is getting an early start, he says. To set up a list of goals and a strategy for achieving them, Fogg typically begins working with his staff in September to plan for the upcoming year.
“[My wife] Debbie and I start by looking at where we’re at and where we want to go,” Fogg says. “We set the tone, and then work with the sales team to figure out how we’re going to get there.“
A review of the showroom’s vendors is always part of the conversation. Like any lighting retailer, Fogg wants to make sure he’s getting competitive pricing and good service, and that the products he carries in his showroom are going over well with customers.
“We take a good look at what’s out there in the market, what’s selling, what’s not selling and what lines we want to carry moving forward,” he says.
Fogg also talks to his vendors about their expectations in terms of performance and display.
“Talking to the vendors helps us determine if we need to move things around on the showroom floor or if we need to make room for something they have coming later down the line,” he says.
When Brent Smith sits down to make plans for a new year at Southern Lighting Gallery in Augusta, GA, one of the biggest things he focuses on is marketing.
“Our customers value consistency, and they look forward to our yearly sales and promotions,” Smith says. ”So I look at the calendar and make note of important dates and holidays and schedule our annual events accordingly.”
As the plan begins to take shape, Smith enlists the help of his showroom and warehouse managers, the marketing company he’s hired and the showroom’s IT person, who handles the e-mail blasts that will go out to customers promoting each event. Together they iron out the details of each event.
“Once we have the basics down, it’s a group effort to turn the plan into something that our showroom can actually live into,” Smith says. “Your plan, after all, is really only as good as the people you have supporting it.”
While a fair amount of consistency is good, a successful new year plan is also one that can go with the flow, Fogg says.
“It’s hard to plan for every little thing, so we try to keep ours as flexible as possible,” he says. “That way, we’re ready for whatever the new year throws at us.”