As you begin a new year, it’s a great time to take stock of what your pool and spa business accomplished in the past year, celebrate your achievements and make plans for your best year ever!
The first step is to meet with your staff and discuss what you did right and wrong last year. Each member of your staff is an important part of this process: pool and spa salespeople, pool and spa service techs, part time students, warehouse personnel, and all other positions in your company. Put together an agenda and divide the meeting based on personnel and their role in the company. The challenge with this is thinking through the agenda criteria and planning properly.
Your role as the facilitator is extremely important in this business improvement process.
- Distribute a detailed agenda with instructions at least two weeks prior to the meeting so everyone has ample time to prepare. Make it a mandatory meeting!
- If you have never held a meeting like this, it is a good idea to briefly talk with each person a week before the meeting to make sure they understand their role. They are to come prepared to discuss their ideas and opinions.
- Keep the meeting on a strict time schedule. If someone is long winded, remind them of the time restraints and move them along.
- Let the staff do all of the talking and keep your opinion to yourself. Instead, ask questions when you need clarification or don’t quite agree with something.
- Take good detailed notes and use a highlighter to mark the action items.
- Make the time immediately following the meeting to type and distribute detailed notes to everyone. This is best if done within 2 days.
- Distribute action items to each individual in the form of things to do lists so that everyone has a checklist to follow. To control the projects as a whole, be sure to include start and completion dates with an order of priority on all lists.
- Follow up with each person throughout the project time frames to see if they have any questions and to ensure they are on task to meet the timeframes. Communication is important.
A sample agenda for your retail staff may read as follows:
Arrive at 7:45 AM – Donuts & coffee
Meeting starts promptly at 8:00
Lunch – pizza at 12:30
Please bring your own drinks for the day and for lunch
We have a lot of material to cover and decisions to make so please adhere to the following:
- Review the agenda and be prepared
- Avoid side conversations while the meeting is going on – it’s distracting
- Get a good night’s sleep so you are awake and alert
Taking Notes & Meeting Follow Up (30 Minutes) 8-8:30
- Meetings keep everyone operating at the same level of understanding and provide the atmosphere necessary to make decisions as a team. In order to maximize their efficiency, and ensure post-meeting follow up, we will share a way to take and organize notes, and organize yourself.
Staffing next season (30 Minutes) 8:30-9:00
- Did we have the right number of people on staff per day, per time of year, and type of staff this past season?
- What changes should we make based on having too many or too few at times?
- (You may want to provide a sample schedule for your plans for next season or a copy of the previous year’s schedule.)
Sales Leads (60 Minutes) 9:00 – 10:00
- Was our procedure effective?
- Were all leads followed up in a timely manner?
- Why did leads slip through the cracks and how can we eliminate the problem?
- Did we have good conversion rates per product line?
- What changes should we make do close more sales?
15 MINUTE BREAK
Customer Retention Brainstorming Session (75 Minutes) 10:15-12:30
- Water problem follow up calls
- Why do you think we lose customers?
- (Insert here the number of customers and the city in which they live from your POS system who did not purchase from you in the previous year)
- What will it take to NOT lose them in the future?
- What can we do to win the lost customers back?
- What can we do better to retain current customers?
60 MINUTE LUNCH BREAK
Marketing – Discussion (30 Minutes) 1:30-2:00
- If you had to choose what to cut or change to reduce the budget, what would you suggest?
- What, in your opinion, was our most effective marketing?
- What pulled in the most NEW customers?
- What brought in the most existing customers?
- What ad promotions/coupons were the best and worst?
- What in-store promotions were the best and worst?
Inventory Control (60 Minutes) – Start 2:00-3:00 PM
IT IS TIME to gain control of our inventory! Inventory makes up the largest percentage of our assets. Sales, profitability and cash flow are directly related to the productivity of that inventory investment. Everyone is involved in inventory control.
- “What’s broke” with respect to the way that we control inventory? Bring your ideas on what can be done to correct the problems
- What causes our inventory numbers to be off?
- To sell or not to sell: What products that we carry should be put on clearance? What products did customers request that we do not carry?
15 MINUTE BREAK
Internal Processes (45 minutes) 3:15-4:00 PM
- What procedures need changed, added or improved upon?
(Insert here a list of procedures for everyone to think about such as store opening and closing, testing water in displays, repair service, scheduling, big ticket sales, special orders, layaways, etc.)
Assign Winter Projects (30 Minutes) 4:00-4:30 PM
- Sales Lead follow up
- Thorough store cleaning
- Organize and clean counter, lab, cabinets, utility room, service trucks, etc.
- Clean and organize parts bins
- List supplies needed for upcoming year
- Check and clean computers and printers
- Repair trade-in pumps for spring sale
- Construction or remodel plans
- Update pricing, shelf tags and store signs
- Set up a clearance corner and price items to sell early in the spring
- Combine duplicate customers in POS system
- Add new related items and general information in POS system
- Year-end physical inventory
- Return damaged goods to vendors and follow up on all open warranty claims
- Brainstorm other things to do
Note that this meeting is not the time to detail the projects with each individual. You may need to meet one-on-one or email the details of each project so that everyone knows exactly what you expect of them.
Open Discussion (30 Minutes) 4:30-5:00 PM
Your preparation and follow up work will result in your staff doing more work in the off season to prepare your business for a successful year. No sense in having non-productive employees throughout the winter and rushing in the spring to be ready for the season….and then not truly being ready. I have been doing this type of meeting for the past fourteen years and with each pool season, we make changes and improvements that really work to increase efficiency and revenue because all of the employees took part in the decision making process.