In the first of a regular series of advice pieces outlining the steps to building a successful retail business consultant Paul Da Silva outlines his top tips for business planning.
I was delighted to be asked by kbbreview to write a regular advice piece, breaking down the key stages of setting up a new KBB retail business, and everything that needs to be considered before you start.
Over the next 12 months, I will be looking at a different area to explore in more detail.
I’ve lost count of the number of showrooms I have opened over the years, and I’d like to share a few things I made a point of considering when I opened each one.
To make things simpler, I always work to the ‘Ten S’ strategy.
In everything you do, safety should come first. People should be going home in the same, if not better, condition than they arrived in.
Of course, all of the usual compulsory items need to be covered, such as fire, risk, PPE and general health and safety.
But people are still very nervous of viruses and still need protection. This can include screens, hand cleansing stations and social distancing measures.
Also, mental health is a vital consideration. Tale the time to monitor staff and check in on them regularly.
Firstly, you need to decide on the organisational structure of the showroom. Do you need a showroom manager, or are you going with a team of kitchen designers?
If you decide not to go down the route of having a showroom manager, you will need to decide who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the showroom and how they are recognised in that role.
You also have to think carefully about how you plan to recruit staff, and from where? Do you choose an experienced designer with a track record, or recruit somebody from outside the industry who will come in with a different slant?
And what about basic salaries and commission? Will you go high/low or low/high?
I have been unlucky enough to have had several break-ins when I have been working for different companies.
We always tried our best to make sure the damage was minimal if anyone got in.
I would generally leave the safe door open overnight and hide the £50 float somewhere in the stock room. This was done after me having to replace a £300 safe that had been drilled out to steal £15 in cash!
There are three main systems you need to consider when setting up the showroom.
A CAD system, a quoting system, and a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. While they are all essential, to my mind, the CRM is the most important one of all. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an IT system, or a pen and diary system, but keeping track of all outstanding business is vital.
Think about your social media strategy and how you plan to communicate with your audience. That could be on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, even via your own website.
If you are planning to employ somebody to manage your social media externally, they will still need to be given regular content – videos, photographs and text.
If an internal member of staff is able to manage it, it will save costs, time and give you more control over what and where you post.
What are you displaying?
You get better discounts from suppliers when you display their product, but it is very easy to display too much and lose some products in the showroom.
You need to display the best products that give you the best returns. This can include negotiating with suppliers and seeing what you can get from them.
Are you going with one big display, or several smaller ones?
Your showroom is one of the best selling tools you will ever have, and the customer’s first impression will be based on the layout, look and cleanliness of the space.
Where will you present to the customer? How will you make sure that they have a first-class customer experience that they will be sharing with all of their friends?
Feedback is instant these days and you need to be going the extra mile to make sure the customer has no complaints at the end of the project.How often will you be calling the customer while the project is ongoing? And how are you going to make sure that when their dream kitchen is installed, the referrals flood in!
Stock is a very important consideration when setting up a kitchen showroom.
You need to have several essential items in, for when things occasionally go wrong. But at the same time, you don’t want all your money tied up in stock.
And if you have to take stock back from the customer, where do you put it and what Service Level Agreement do you have in place with your supplier for returns?
The most important thing to work out when you are starting up is – how much are you going to sell? Everything on your profit and loss sheets is based on your sales and margins. Targets and forecasting need the most consideration when you are planning your new venture. Know your numbers!