The eighth in a nine-part series exploring the components of true category management, this is the action step that brings your strategies and tactics to life. Where the proverbial “rubber meets the road,” the degree to which you accurately implement the plan will dictate your/its success.
While this sounds easy, it is typically the most difficult step for manufacturers and retailers. Most of us place a lot of barriers around implementing a plan: I'm too busy. Where do I begin? I'll do it tomorrow. Sales are good. I prefer to be spontaneous. I'm not good with details, etc. These are frequently nothing more than just excuses. Some prefer to wait until all the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” crossed before you implement the plan. While this is ideal it should not preclude you from reaching your goals.
How important is this? There is a famous saying; "those who fail to plan, plan to fail."
Imagine that you have a big promotion planned. The flyers are printed and mailed, the displays are built, you scheduled more help to man the registers, but you forgot to order more product to support the event. Instead of satisfying existing consumers and converting new customers into loyal shoppers, you alienated and disappointed your shoppers.
For this reason I would encourage some degree of flexibility in your plan. Similar to the tactics and strategies we discussed earlier in the series, there are a lot of opportunities to modify your plan anytime. The same holds true for implementation. The more you practice this, the better you will be at designing realistic and obtainable goals. The plan will become easier to develop and execute as a result.
Tips to help you plan are contained through all of the articles I've written. Scorecarding is a great way to map out and organize a plan. It is also a great tool to help keep you on track as you work toward your goals.
If your goal is to be known as the best retailer for fresh produce in the market, then a tactic might be sourcing produce from local growers. This would enable you to get produce delivered fresher and more timely. It might also give you first pick of their produce, allowing you to select the very best they sell, thus giving you a competitive edge against other retailers.
In addition, this would give you a unique opportunity to help local produce growers meet your specific customers' needs. For example, your customer demand might be higher for organic zucchini at your store. You would be able to influence the amount of zucchini they produce. This unique selling relationship would allow you to help the grower customize crops to fit your needs.
In the words of Tom Peters, “nothing happens until someone sells something,” and in our case, until you implement your plan. As Nike says, “Just Do It.”