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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Goal-setting's a process with twists and turns

The Practical Manager

Success doesn?t happen by accident. Sometimes folks get lucky, but you can?t count on that. Conversely, most people don?t plan to fail—they fail to plan.

Goal-setting is like choosing a destination for a trip. My wife and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary this month. If we decided to go to Texas, knowing the direction that we want to go is not the same as knowing the destination. Are we going to Dallas, San Antonio or Austin? If we?re going to Dallas, we can choose from several airlines that arrive at two different airports. We can take the interstate or the scenic route. (I guess we could take a bus, too.)

By the same token, is it enough to say that you want your store to be more successful? No—you need to know your direction and your destination.

For goals to work, they have to be SMART:

S-specific—A goal of ?to be more successful? isn?t going to get you anywhere. ?We are going to increase sales? defines the area to focus on for success.

M-measurable—If you don?t have a measurement to track your goal, how will you know if you?ve attained it? Be specific: ?We are going to increase sales by 10 percent.?

A-attainable—Making a goal unrealistically high is self-defeating. Set your sights for goals that will make you work harder, but still remain doable.

R?results-oriented—Focus on the result, not the work needed to achieve the result. That comes later.

T?time-specific—Have a deadline: ?We are going to increase sales by 10 percent during the first six months of 2006.?

Now that we?ve narrowed the subject to increasing sales, which is a goal that all retailers can get behind, let?s look at getting some focus on specific goals:

  • Goals per department—Set a SMART goal to increase sales in supplements by 5 percent in the first six months of 2006. This approach works well if you your store is staffed by department. Sharing dollar results with your staff is great, but not necessary. Showing how each team compares to last year on a percentage basis will gives them a good point of reference.
  • Goals for sales per transaction—Set a SMART goal to increase purchases by each customer by $1 per transaction. To accomplish this, you will need good end caps, case stacks and signed specials throughout your store; employees good at suggestive selling; and impulse items around your cash register. Be sure to ask your vendors about eye-catching displays and racks.
  • Creating an opportunity with a new department or section—Set a SMART goal for a new department (bulk bins) or subdepartment (ayurvedic products) to produce at least $100 per week in sales by the end of March. This gives some tangible reason to merchandise the section, train staff on it and give customers reasons to shop it. The people who ?own? this section can gauge its success.
  • Staff development goals—Many manufacturers and industry groups offer courses for store staff about their category—herbs, homeopathy, personal care, organics. Set a SMART goal to have three of your staff members take courses that will interest them and benefit your store. The more they know about what you carry, the more they will help your customers make good purchase decisions.
  • Goals for your own growth and development—Set a SMART goal to take and pass two business courses at your local community college in 2006. A course in marketing, accounting or management will sharpen your awareness of key issues in your store and give you a lot of ideas to test out. No school near you? Check out the myriad of resources online.

I?ll be back in February with other thoughts on managing your business practically—and for success. In the meantime, ask yourself what direction you want to go and whether you want to take your car, a plane or the Greyhound to get there.

Bill Crawford, director of retail custom programs at New Hope Natural Media, spent 12 years on the management team of a major natural products retail chain. Contact him at [email protected]

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 11/p. 19

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