Friday, January 11, 2013

Numbers numbers everywhere!

One of the fun, terrifying, interesting things about owning a business is the crystal ball we all need and just don’t have. January is not only the beginning of our busy season for bridal and grad it is the time I need to finish up my accounting for the year before and do all my assessments of last year and forecasts for next year. There are sales goals to figure out, budgets to work on and the marketing plan to get written and rolling.

In other words I spend lots of time looking at rows of numbers. I’m lucky I guess, because I like looking at rows of numbers. What am I looking for? Patterns mostly. How is this number different from that number? Why? What got better? Why? What got worse? Why?

I'm guessing you noticed, the most important question here is ‘why?’. All the numbers in the world can’t tell you anything if you don’t take the time to figure out WHY they are what they are. WHY did they change? Why didn’t they? Why did they change the way they did? What else was going on when those changes did (or didn’t ) happen. Is it possible to recreate or eliminate that changing factor?  

This is where your business plan comes in. Accountants are great for this because they are trained and have years of experience looking for patterns. Your business mentor’s may be able to see something you aren’t. Your peers in the industry may be able to help you figure out the whys. I love looking for the whys. Why? Because it gives me the illusion of control.

Yes, I know it’s an illusion but it’s something right?

So one pattern I noticed last year is we get a lot of grad sales in the later part of the week day. Why? Because the grad shopping traffic tends to come in between 2 and 5. Why? Well, in grad gowns it's the customer's last class of the day. Maybe easier to cut? Maybe a lot of final period spares out there? Maybe it’s the best time for Mom to duck out of work and meet daughter for an hour before the rest of the day gets in the way? There are a lot of potential contributors, but I do know that that is when they come in, and when they come in, sales go up. Why is this important? Because I am a one man show and customer service is the key to my business.

I have also noticed that Grads travel in packs. Which leaves little ol’ me alone with potentially multiple groups of shoppers.

I can see by my review of my numbers that my store is growing. We are seeing more grads and brides and that thrills me to death. But it also scares me.  If I want to be able to offer amazing customer service to each and every client, the clients are coming in ‘all at once’ and in groups, and sales are increasing there is only one solution. I’m going to need help.

So this year I have decided to hire someone. I have some casual people who help me out, but most of them have commitments during the day already. This person will start casual but if we click, she could eventually become my right hand here at the store. The ‘click’ is huge. Every business owner has strengths and weakness’. This person will need to be strong in area’s I am weak, our personalities will need to mesh (I’m not joking when I say I don’t play well with others. I KNOW I am hard to work with. I try, but I am a perfectionist in how I want my business run. That’s fair right?), she’ll need to be able to connect with the customers and she’ll need to love the job.

Here’s the ad:
Help Wanted, part-time casual position could lead to permanent full time for the right person. A positive attitude, patience, a love of people, exceptional customer service skills and the ability to think on your feet and work without supervision are a must. Being comfortable on a computer, as well as a love of fashion and coffee are assets. Candidate must be willing to learn and able to multi task. The candidate must be available to work from 2 – 5pm weekdays with occasional evening and weekend work as needed. If you are interested please apply in person with a résumé and references to Jessica at Unforgettable You. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

So now I guess we see what happens. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

No, the zombies didn't get me. Yet.

Just in case anyone was worried.

January marks the start of a new bridal season and a new year. Time to dust off the ol’ blog and see if I can be more consistent with my posts.

2012 saw a few changes at the store and a lot of growth. My personal emotional roller coaster combined with the general challenge of running a retail store made for some interesting days but things are looking up and the store is on more solid ground then ever.

Our biggest challenge was creating awareness of the fact we sell day/business wear. There aren’t a ton of options for women looking for something to wear to the office here in town. That leg of our business plan was intended to fill that need and help balance the seasonal nature of formal wear. I am thrilled to say we are getting there! Slowly but surely people are realizing we have Jones New York suits, Jana tops and sweaters, Conrad C separates. Slowly, but it is happening.

A great article in Fine Lifestyles Magazine really helped that along this past September.
If you are wondering, the redhead is me :D

What’s coming up for 2013?

Well, bridal and grad season has started!! I LOVE this time of year. So busy, so many happy girls and women that I get to help make feel beautiful! Our spring bridal gowns are almost all here and they are be-u-t-full !!!  Seriously.  I decided to bump my gown retail ‘ceiling’ a bit and bring in a really stunning piece from Eddy K.  
Eddky K MD115
This gown features a sweet heart neckline and drop waist bodice all but dripping with bead work and a full organza skirt of pull ups with floral detailing. One of the nifty things DH and I got to do last July was attend the Eddy K launch show in Montreal, QC and this gown was on a model there. I fell in love.

We are thrilled to be able to do the fashion show for the 4th Annual Lasting Impressions Wedding Show here in Swift Current , February 3   
And we have been invited to do the fashion show for the Medicine Hat Welcome Wagon Bridal show March 3!  Doing an out of town show will be a challenge and we are excited about taking it on.

Wedding shows like this are a great way for brides to talk to vendors and see what is new in bridal fashion. And doing a show is just one step short of insanity. I promise to post a couple of nice long blogs with photos for you on that!

As far as the new bridal fashions go? Well, anything goes! Lace is in, bling is in, straps and sleeves are coming back (thank you Princess Kate!) and you can wear anything from a sleek evening gown to a ‘cake top’ princess gown in any colour your little heart desires. I have bridal gowns in deep red, oyster, pale pink, an iridescent pink with a nifty green tint to it, bisque and black & white. But statement making brides in the past here at the store have also purchased gowns in deep purple and a striking platinum. (Hint, if you don’t see what you are looking for in bridal, check out the grad gowns!) Your wedding should be a reflection of who you and your groom are. Your gown should make you feel totally beautiful in a way that is totally you!

Don’t forget ladies – a wedding gown takes approximately six months to bring in. We do sell off the rack, but if you need or want to order a different size or colour, make sure you give yourself time.

The grad gowns are also pouring in, but that is for the next post.
Talk to you soon!