A Day in the Life of an Independent Retailer

The Morning Shift

Independent retailers generally work either alone or with a very small staff. This means the owner is usually the store manager, sales clerk, buyer, accountant security, receiving clerk and even the janitor. So how does one do it all?

Time management and creating a workable schedule is the only way to get it all done. Here we look at a day in the life of an independent retailer.

5:30 AM - Wake up, exercise and prepare to face the world.

Have breakfast, read the paper or start the day with a devotional. Do whatever it takes to prepare your body and soul for the day ahead.

7:00 AM - Arrive at work. Many retailers are taking advantage of today's technology and using multi-channel sales to support their brick and mortar shop. Before opening the store, pull online orders from the computer system and prepare them for shipping. This is the time to check email, responding where necessary, and voicemail. Make note of any follow-up calls for later in the day.

8:00 AM - Verify petty cash and count the cash register tills. Some stores may make night deposits but it is recommended to send the money to the bank during daylight hours. If possible, two people should go.

8:30 AM - Spend a few minutes walking the sales floor. Try to view the store just as a customer would see it. Make notes of any areas needing to be addressed. These notes will serve as your daily task sheet or to-do list.

If possible, distribute these chores among the staff.

Take a moment to review the retail business' marketing plan. Are there any specials or advertised sales going on today? Are there any upcoming events to prepare for this week? If you have more than a year in sales, examine the Beat Yesterday book to get an idea of what the day may bring.

9:00 AM - Open the doors.

9-11:00 AM - Greet customers, assist with sales and handle the phones. Mornings may bring fewer customers so this is a good time to receive merchandise, check in vendors, build displays, set plan-o-grams and focus on merchandising.

This is also an ideal time to complete as many items on the daily task sheet as possible. Hand over online orders to the postman or delivery person. Don't forget to make those follow-up phone calls.

11-1:30 PM - Check inventory levels, examine out-of-stock items and place orders with vendors, if necessary. If your retail shop accepts special orders from customers, add those products to purchase orders. Call customers as soon as the items arrive.

Late morning means more customers. Be sure to make yourself available for every customer that comes in to the shop. There may still be items on your to-do list but don't forget why you're in business... to serve the customers' needs.

[Read on to learn about the Afternoon Shift]

1:30-2:00 PM - Grab a bite to eat or take a walk. The day is only half over and it's a good idea to leave the shop, if possible. This will give you a chance to clear your head, refuel and prepare for the rest of the afternoon.

2-6:00 PM - After returning from lunch, take a mid-day reading of the daily sales to see how the day is going. Print any signage or labels needed for the new merchandise checked in earlier.

Add new products to the online. Check email and reply where necessary.

Most independent retailers will find this to be the busiest time of the day. School lets out and people leave work. This time should be devoted to customer service.

As you focus on the customer this afternoon, listen and learn what they are looking for and what their needs are. Customers are an excellent source for new products and to learn what the competitor is doing. Show off newly-arrived products and mention any sales or markdowns to visitors of the store. Your interaction with customers should be far more than "welcome" and "how are you today?"

6:00 PM - Begin the store recovery process.

7:00 PM - Close the doors.

7-9:00 PM - Count the registers, secure the day's deposit and take another walk through the store. Finish putting items back on the shelves, clean the restrooms, and organize the cash stand or checkout areas.

Examine the daily task sheet and complete any remaining items. Log the sales receipts in the Beat Yesterday book.

As you secure the store and turn off the lights, you can take pride in knowing you've put in an honest day's work as an independent retailer.