Fueled by the popularity of A&E’s hit series “Duck Dynasty,” camouflage is popping up all over market.
Fueled by the popularity of A&E’s hit series “Duck Dynasty,” camouflage is popping up all over market.
By Mike Gomez, President, Allegro Consulting
I attended a gathering of a select group of business owners who were the runner-ups for the “Small Business Person of the Year Award”. During the event each owner was asked to stand up and briefly state what they thought made his/her business so successful. One of the owners stated proudly it was his employees – he felt he was able to attract and retain good employees. That was his “secret”. Later, I had the opportunity to privately ask him what made his employees “better” and how was he able to attract them. Here is how the discussion transpired:
I asked, “Are your employees more qualified than your competitors?”
“No”, he replied.
“Do you offer better benefits or pay and thus can attract better employees?”
“Do you train them differently?”
“Do you offer performance incentives or shares of company stock and thus they are more motivated?”
“Is your work environment any different than your competitors?”
“Do you offer more vacation time, gym memberships, or other perks?”
“So then why then do you believe it was your employees and your ability to attract them that sets you apart? Why do you clam this as the reason for your success?”
He hesitated, gave a puzzled look, and then said, “I really don’t know – maybe it is not my employees.”
The sad fact is this owner didn’t know what attribute made his company successful. Most likely his employees are no more or less qualified (better) than his competitors. And because he doesn’t know, he is more likely than not to stray away from it or unknowingly allow it to flitter away. Once this happens, the business is gone.
This owner did not know or understand his company’s core competency; the unique thing they do or process they employ or value they add to win business that would be difficult for their competitors to imitate. Your company’s core competency is the foundation of your business. To grow, you should know what it is, nurture it, and exploit it.
Let’s take a moment to discuss, as an example, the core competencies of two well known businesses, Dominos Pizza and Honda.
Dominos made its mark by guaranteeing a quality pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less. Their core competency was the “process” they designed starting with the how they selected the store locations and ending with the delivery method. It was this value added benefit (a warm pizza delivered quickly) that drove their customers to choose their product over the plethora of other pizza restaurants. Dominos continuously invested to refine that process (their core competency) and keep it as a discriminator and a method for growing their business beyond pizza to now include hot wings, pasta, etc….
Honda’s core competency was building high quality, reliable, light weight engines; first for motorcycles then later small cars, ATVs, lawn mowers, and the rest is history. Their continued investment in engine technology is a reflection of how well they understood what made their product the preferred choice regardless of whether it was in a lawn mower or a luxury automobile.
What is your company’s core competency?
By the way, it is very rarely “our customer service” or “our people”.
Knowing and then nurturing your core competency will ensure it continues to provide you with the competitive advantage necessary to grow your business.
Mike Gomez presents “10 Essential Elements for Long-Term Sustained Growth” as part of The Education Center at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market on Thursday, July 11 at 9:30 a.m. Visit AmericasMart.com for a complete list of seminars and events.
Mike Gomez is president of Allegro Consulting, a growth specialty firm with a singular purpose of helping businesses grow. Allegro helps owners with marketing strategy, sales, and operations. They also provide leadership and business coaching. For more information, visit http://allegroconsultant.com.
Modern fragrance lovers embrace scent as a form of self-expression, but there was a time in the history of perfume when scent was worn as a form of aromatherapy cloaked in the splendor of ornament. Before science could explain why certain aromas had the ability to soothe, energize, and inspire, many were of the mind that particular scents could function as olfactory talismans of well-being and protection. From this notion splendid filigree and bejeweled creations were born.
Fragrant jewelry was a luxury designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. Solid perfumed balms filled the segmented chambers of 17th century necklaces made of precious metals. Designs varied, but many were engraved and some were intricately encrusted with jewels. The visual pleasure offered by a necklace with a decorative perfumed dome resting near the heart had several benefits; it was portable, fragrance could be applied as needed and admirers could find also find comfort in its presence.
Fragrant jewelry also took the form of earrings, lockets, bracelets and rings, each designed with portability in mind. In time, these customizable methods of enjoying scent were replaced with liquid perfume packaged in crafted glass bottles. Today, fragrant jewelry’s influence can be found in scented candles and potpourri which are used to aromatize environments and create a sense of well-being. Both hearken back to the days when balms, herbs, dried flowers and resins filled the aromatic chambers of fragrant jewelry, a method of self-perfuming that was the pinnacle of luxury in its time.
It has been my pleasure to re-introduce fragrance jewelry in a unique and modern way. My goal was to create pieces that are both beautiful and serve the olfactory needs of women today. The journey has been a labor of love and the response a great joy.
Visit Lisa Hoffman Beauty on Floor 4 of Building 3 July 12-16 during the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market.
For now, we aren’t going to talk about Open-to-Buy and overstocked or poor season sales. Today let’s tackle EXPENSES!
Remember when you deduct the cost of merchandise from the sales figures, whatever remains is what you have left to pay all those other bills. (No running to the bank for borrowing!) The only way to successfully operate is to make sure your expenses do not exceed your gross margin percentage (what is left after paying vendors).
Rent is probably your most important cost, perhaps even over employee salaries. Once you sign a lease, this amount cannot be altered. Pay close attention to the amount of the lease, as well as the content and expiration. Know what you are responsible for, and for how long. You should only spend 10 percent or less of your monthly sales for rent.
Salaries and employee costs should run around 15-16 percent of your sales. Many retailers try to cut that down by having fewer or untrained people on staff. Do not scrimp on this and leave your store unmanned when needed. You may lose much more than an hour’s payroll on just one shoplifting episode. Many retailers offset higher salaries with better in-store relationships, rewards, environments, and employee discounts.
Utilities can usually not be changed much, except by making sure the store is properly insulated, the doors not left open, etc. Phone services have so many variations today, make it easy. Chose one for phone and Internet.
Advertising – my favorite – is a place you should NOT try to cut. If you are a new store, you probably need to spend upwards of 7-8 percent to get your name out there and your business introduced to the public. If it were my established specialty store I would try to spend 5-6 percent to continue my good business and customer rate. Please do not go to 3 percent or less. You are not telling anybody anything!
Find fun ways to communicate with, and delight your customers. Parties, giveaways, or even just “a martini with markdowns” event can create excitement. Partner with other merchants, restaurants, cleaners, spas, diet centers – anyone who also serves your target customer. Together you will save and succeed.
Postage rates continue to rise so pay close attention to those costs, but do not eliminate direct mail. Use on-line mail services and bill paying. Perhaps direct mail a little less often, but most of your customers are not solely dependent on emails and Facebook. And they are deleting some before even reading. A postcard is in their hand and on their refrigerator! Most Important: do not, I repeat, do not email a birthday card. The entire purpose of this process is to be warm, caring and friendly. Email is not!
Property tax rate, insurance, etc. is just a fact of life, but you can control your bookkeeping expenses and legal fees by doing a lot of this in-house or researching to find good, but inexpensive professionals. Maybe that cute, young C.P.A. might want to trade-out for clothes or at least, spend her fee with you.
Market expenses are also in your control. Use free room offers, discount travel, and of course, always eat in the showrooms. In Atlanta, Sandy and Bob Smith have a menu to die for, including her homemade ice cream; Tim Philbin’s wife cooks a fabulous meal; Ambrosia has lots and lots of goodies, and BF&J are known for fabulous barbecue and carrot cake. Find the perfect place for your taste. There are lots of choices for clothing AND for lunch!
Also there are frequent airfare sales. (I already have my tickets for two markets ahead!) Plus some folks love to drive to market. It gives you the opportunity to relax and contemplate seasons past and to come. And having a roommate is not a crime. Not only will you save money, you will network and probably improve your business by sharing with your mate!
Natalie Scott of Outdura held a great presentation yesterday on outdoor fabrics. Here are a few textile terms Scott discussed.
Unique materials, Art Deco designs…Check out these sunburst mirrors we found at Market:
Find these and plenty of other design styles from Jan. 9-16 at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market – then shop many showrooms daily between Markets.
By David Bromstad
Some of you may know me from a few of my shows on HGTV such as “Design Star,” “Design Star All Stars,” “Color Splash” and “White Room Challenge.” I’m really looking forward to coming to AmericasMart Atlanta and talking to all of you about design: What I love and how to bring design you love into your home!
Nowadays, when not on television, I work solely in Interior Design and in fine art with my paintings and mural work; but when I started my career it was as an artist for Disney and Universal Studios.
I still love bringing an element of over-the-top fantasy to my design, but when I am creating for someone’s home it’s also super important to make the space livable but still fabulous beyond words. One of the easiest ways to bring interest and excitement into a room is with color! Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE fan of color. If you want to use bright color in your home, it’s important to know HOW to use it! I always recommend keeping the biggest and most expensive elements of the room neutral and using pops of color as an accent. But if you want to be bold and cover a piece of furniture with a color, don’t let me stop you!
I love referring to current trends Pantone when it comes to color. They are a fantastic resource. Pantone has declared the color of 2013 Emerald. Emerald is an awesome color that they describe as “Lively. Radiant. Lush…. A color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony.” I always consider the psychology behind a color when choosing a palette for a room. Greens are perfect for a bedroom and pairing it with earthy tones keeps the décor sexy, delicious and fabulous!
Another element that raises home décor to another level is the addition of “art.” That can be a lot of different things. Most people think of art as a painting but art is everything, lighting, sculpture and even furniture. One design trick I frequently recommend is finding a theme and repeating a color scheme and theme and repeating it throughout your home. Whether it’s patterns, rugs, flooring or pillows.
If you know me you know I love an animal head, but to keep it modern I like to keep it all in one color scheme; I used white and black below but I’m also a huge fan of metallic.
Come see David Bromstad present “The Power of Color” on Saturday, January 12 at 3 p.m. in Building 2, Floor 9. Click here for a full list of events and seminars.
Designer Kenneth Brown, of HGTV’s “reDesign,” shares his tips for adding a rug to your décor:
Come see Kenneth present “Decorating from Top to Bottom” on Friday, January 11, at 10 a.m. in Building 1, Floor 4, Room 4-D-8.Learn how rugs can kick start the design in putting the finishing touches on your designs and see how he’s incorporated those rugs in designing A-List celebrity homes.