Your Retail Success

How to solve your business problems

Your Retail Success

by Rick Kroetsch

Look at your business through a different lens before thinking that you have fixed a problem.

Every day you’re being bombarded with problems begging for solutions. Some can be easily dealt with, some ignored, and some postponed—but none should be forgotten.

Take, for example, a problem that surfaces because something that was planned did not work out the way it was intended. Rather than fearing this problem, ask yourself, “How can I adjust the situation so it’s back on plan?” If it’s beyond adjusting, then it’s time to plan a new way of doing things. Duct taping a leaky water pipe may help for a little while, but the problem is caused by weak plumbing parts that need to be replaced.

Look for causes—not symptoms

Don’t treat the problem in isolation; look around for causes—not just symptoms. For example, decreasing sales is a problem. Putting a Band-Aid on the underlying gaping cause by increasing focus on selling, adding more staff, cutting prices, or setting up promotions may help in the short term, but it might not fix the problem.

Look for the root cause of the problem before coming up with a solution. The problem may be bigger and broader than a short-term fix can help. You might be facing new competition, a rising US dollar, changing technology, new target markets, or other challenges. Putting a product on sale will help clear out what is in your inventory, but it does not address the root causes of the problem you are encountering.

Listen and ask follow-through questions

Although you might think you know the answer to a problem, stop yourself and ask, “Have I asked deep enough questions to truly understand the underlying reasons for this situation?” If the answer is no, start digging. The more you dig the better scope you will have. Remember you don’t just want to stop the short-term bleeding: you want to find the cause and fix the patient for the long term.

Tear it apart and rebuild it correctly

It’s like rebuilding an old car. Don’t just slap a new coat of paint on it and think it will run better and not break down. Take the time to disassemble your problem, review and analyze the components, and then rebuild it so it is better than new. It might appear time consuming, but if you want to prevent problems from surfacing repeatedly, you need to take the time to investigate the root cause. A little preventive maintenance can stop many future problems from ever happening.

Don’t just look at today—plan for the future

Every time a problem crops up it’s a good time to look at whether what you are currently doing is what you should be doing into the future. Looking at it from a future perspective might shed some light on the fact that your plan might not be sustainable. Don’t wait for it to be a bigger problem somewhere down the line. Make new plans that will help you for today and tomorrow.

Rick Kroetsch is the vice-president and associate publisher of Alive Publishing Group