Thursday, June 11, 2009

Focus and Determination Cuts Through Turbulent Times

We are all serching for answers to the challenges of these turbulent times. The economy is struggling, expectations are increasing, consumer confidence is weak, and we're all worried.

So what is a business to do? Focus, keep your eyes wide open, and spend time on strategy.

At a recent NACS (the other--convenience store--one) leadership forum, an exec from a major player in their business offered his thoughts on understanding your business and being true to who/what you are in order to remain successful. Here are the four tenets, his company's take on each, and a few thoughts from me on each:

1. Know your core purpose. For his company it is "simplify customer's lives". For campus stores it could be quite similar...perhaps adding " the pursuit of education."

2. Understand and live by your corporate values. In the case of this exec's organization: Delight customers, value people, passion for winning, do things right, do the right thing, and embrace change. Pretty darn good list if you ask me!

3. Know what you can be best in the world at. Do you know what this is for your organization? If not, it's time to invest some time in a good ol' fashioned SWOT analysis. Or at least the Strengths and Weaknesses of that traditional Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) model.

4. Know what drives the economic engine. In the case of the mainstream convenience store industry this is customer transactions and increasing profit. Wait a minute?! That sounds like the same as campus retail! Could be that we're worrying too much on digital content and leasing and too little on the core issues of how to increase customer transactions (and basket or spend per transaction) and increasing profit (e.g., new products and categories, inventory management, turns, GMROI, and so on)?

These four items are simple and complex all at the same time. The bottom line is that in tough times we need to take the time necessary to understand who we are, what we're about, how we're going to do business, and the business we should be doing.

If you need a crash course in SWOT analysis, try out this great 5+ minute how-to video on You Tube:

The Retail Muse

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