Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How Small Business Owners Can Advance Their Business

We sat down with our expert Implementation Specialist, Donna Knight, who has been with One Step Retail Solutions for just under 16 years. She has ample experience providing computer software and hardware support for over eighteen years with thirteen of those years focusing on retail based companies. She has assisted retailers with growing their business by answering any technical questions while offering training and support. We asked Donna a few key questions about the challenges small businesses face and how these businesses can successfully advance their retail stores!

What are some of the main challenges facing small business owners as they grow?
As businesses grow, owners find staffing to be one of their main problems. Having excessive or not enough sales staff can be problematic, but it’s a problem that can be fixed with the right retail technology tools. Having traffic counters and running reports that show sales by the hour, will allow retailers to see what areas need to be improved. These tactics allow owners to maximize staff so that they have more staff in the store on the days and at the times when there is high traffic and sales volume. I have shopped in plenty of stores where I was one of the few customers and I got swarmed by multiple sales people. This is a perfect example of overstaffing, which wastes unnecessary money and resources while providing a negative customer experience.

Another problem for owners, is having an outdated point of sale system that is constantly adding unnecessary features and only improving its existing capabilities. It’s very important to choose a point of sale system developed by a company that is always releasing updates to its software so retailers can stay current with the times. Updates that come from customer requests are an indicator a software company cares and is striving to be the top inventory management system.

What recommendations do you make for clients that want more of your products and software, but don’t have a great credit score to get the funding they may need to acquire it?

On the personal side, I recommend (which is free) to business users, but my personal experience has been that since I started tracking my credit score with this site, my credit score increased so much that I’m constantly getting credit card offers that I have to turn down. Another service I recommend is using one of Experian’s low cost credit tracking and alert systems, which lets you know about changes on your credit report. I’ve used both of these services and together they helped my credit score increase to the 700s. While the lending requirements of traditional banks focus solely on the credit score, there are options available for new businesses that are showing profit and building their score, but have some difficulty qualifying for a standard bank loan. Small business loans from alternative lenders like Kabbage can be worth exploring if you fit into this category.

What is something that would help owners and their business thrive?
One thing retailers don’t always pay attention to is using their billable services wisely. When you’re paying for hourly services, it’s vital you or your staff show up for appointments. It is very common these days for many businesses to charge for no-shows or last minute cancellations, so whole staff should be aware of these policies to avoid unnecessary expenditures. Otherwise, retailers could get charged for the appointment time without receiving any benefits.

When retailers have an appointment for billable services with a consultant, they should have questions or points of discussion written down ahead of time, this will allow the owner to be organized and use the billable time most efficiently and effectively. Also, when receiving training on a new program or system, be sure to take notes! I can’t stress this enough. While some computer programs are more user-friendly than others, retailers should not assume they can memorize how to use the program by just watching someone else do it one time. Also, make sure to ask questions during the training session. Sometimes, people might think they have the functionality down when it comes to a new system, but it’s important to ask questions and take notes for future reference.

Following the training, practice what has been learned since that is the only way to make it stick. Learners don’t really own the knowledge gained from a trainer without practice until the task can be easily completed. Another great training tip is to take notes of any weak points while practicing and revisit with the trainer. Of course, learning how to use an inventory management system is not as complicated as learning algebra or college biology, but the same techniques that allowed learning in high school can be applied to learning software programs.  In order for software to pay for itself, retailers must optimize use of it by learning how to use all of the features that will benefit the business. Otherwise, point of sale system is just a very expensive cash register.

About One Step Retail Solutions
Founded in 1985, One Step Retail Solutions is the top retail technology, value-added reseller in the U.S. offering proven  top-of-the-line point of sale systems and ancillary products.  One Step Retail Solutions provides events, seminars, white papers, webinars and more to educate retailers on how to effectively use technology to streamline and advance their businesses.