Email can be important. A way to push a relationship or project one step further. To give thanks or stay in the loop. One of the best things I ever did was to assign time each day to my diary to “process” my email. If email is a part of your daily working life then give email the time it deserves in your day.
I assign an hour in the morning and approx 30mins in the afternoon. The time is just enough to keep moving forward, respond in a timely manner and keep work in my inbox not my head.
Once you learn to give email the time it deserves the next phase is to send better email.
Title: The Changing Retail Landscape and how to succeed
To succeed you must be inspiring, innovating and trying new things all the time. Examples of three business doing this well are Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Primark. Two words for success: “Be relevant”. Ask yourself and your business to write four bullet points to show why you are relevant e.g:
Do you know your customer – their wants, needs and desires?
Are you innovating – what are you doing in all areas to make customer needs and improve the business?
Do you hire talented people – give them training and then space to grow as people make or break the business. You need leaders to inspire, management to ruthlessly implement (failure happens) and exceed expectations
Do you keep change at the centre of your business – always move forward and get the whole team to move together to avoid silos
am I doing everything I can be doing to thrill my customer?
what am I doing to make my staff go from good to great?
is the business making positive changes to succeed?
His book is Almost is Not Good Enough ISBN 9781911195641
At work we sell approx 50 types of goods or service. We sell goods in our shops for example and our services include permitting, steam train rides, educational workshops and much more. Transactions none the less. I regularly get asked how to start a new revenue stream. For me the answer is simple for a good proportion of the time: Start by selling goods or services that people are already asking us for. Simple.
Case in point are the studios at M Shed. The original purpose was for the delivery of education activity. When not in use, staff would use the space for internal activity, meetings and the like. There was wriggle room for different uses. Any use that wasn’t the original intention or primary purpose I call a “by-product”. Sometime during 2015 we started to get enquiries for hiring a space that was smaller than our event suite. The event suite on the top floor was originally the only space for hire. We soon agreed with the learning team that they and us would both have access to the booking diary and use the space for education or private hire aka a new by-product. Every year since 2015 we have seen growth in the booking of this space which generates something like 5% additional revenue at this point. We didn’t transform or innovate, we simply responded to a user need and make a healthy stream of revenue.
What are people asking you for that perhaps could be the start of tens of thousands of pounds?
I regularly get emails from folks who have been instructed to get in touch with me to learn how I make money for our service. Firstly, it isn’t me making money. I help wrangle the conditions for our teams to do their best work and in turn revenue is generated. The services we provide are either designed to generate revenue OR making revenue is a by-product of something else we do. I’m sure that fancy business cases, spreadsheets and presentations work but I always start a simple question to my boss:
“What is the bottom line that you need from us?”
Once I have that single figure I can then set about to see how things need to change to respond to the goal. Better still I then internalise the goal as “how little can we afford to grow?“. Surely you’d think I would be always seeking the maximise right? wrong. Growing too much too quickly always has an impact on our resources. Sure we can sell more events but we would suddenly need to close public spaces in core hours which negatively impacts our public offer. I could insist our retail only stocked products in the £25+ region but alienate a large chunk of people who are in the £5-£25 region. The list of things I could do is endless.
So instead of having no constraints I prefer to have clear constraints grounded in walking a fine line of making money without stepping too far. Find out what is a sensible level of business by asking similarly positioned services to give you a benchmark. For example we need our retail to be in the 50p to £1 spend per head region, host on average three events per week and attract 400-500 filming days per year.
My motorcycle chain had become too loose and needed adjusting over the weekend. A friend came over to show me how to do it. The process was loosen the wheel nut (large nut in the above photo to right) , then first loosen the outer nut and then turn the second nut until the correct tension was found. What I found very interesting was the consideration Honda clearly had for us home fixers. Normally the two nuts would be the same size but most people own one spanner set with each tool being the next size down/up thus making it impossible to adjust the nuts at the same time. Honda have obviously considered this and to my surprise the second nut is the next size up thus allowing me to use the next spanner in the set and make the adjustment without having to borrow another spanner from a neighbour.
This small detail to me demonstrates how Honda have carefully considered the “real” world and met my user need before I even knew it. They could have used identical nuts knowing that would likely result in the user having to stop the job and seek out the same size spanner but instead they did the difficult work (two different nuts on the same sized thread and adding one more different part ). Thanks Honda!
Slides from my 16th May 2019 talk at Museums + Heritage show at Olympia London. Do get in touch if you have any questions.
Zak will show you how Bristol changed from being a museum service to a cultural business. A focus on delighting visitors and being data-informed has seen the team of teams rise to the opportunities of income generation in the face of big challenges.
During a trip to Manchester I took a few minutes to walkthrough the shop with the manager. This was an aside to the main reason for the visit but I spotted something immediately. Most of the products either weren’t priced or their related pricing point of sale wasn’t close enough. Hiding in plain sight was a big hurdle for the potential customer. It’s human nature to not ask staff about the price. Show me the price so I have as little friction as possible when considering a product.
The 22nd March 2019 officially marks the day our retail business revenue hit 100% growth since 2014-15 which you can see in the performance spreadsheet. A proud moment for the service. I want to kick-off by thanking the retail team who have worked their socks off and have been up for the challenge since day 1 in 2015. Also none of our success would be possible without the support of the other teams who contribute to the effort including Retail Thinking, user research, design & marketing, digital, documentation, programming and operations. Retail is a living breathing example of our team-of-teams approach to solving problems. Why try to do everything yourself when you have some of the best talent in other parts of the service willing to rolling their sleeves up. Transformation is not easy but our goal has been to grow the business year on year using the four retail pillars of Buying, Staff skills, Visual merchandising (VM) and Performance. The Culture team need to make or save £436,000 between 2017-2021 as part of the wider Council savings programme. Retail is a core player in this growth. A quick recap of the marathon to date: 2015-16
understand the retail business and begin to destroy and rebuild from the ground up (discovered we were running at a loss)
Returned to the simple principle that “we should sell what people buy”
2016-17 – return to profitability and aim to maximise existing resources
2017-18 – build the case for long-term investment including roadmap for shop refits at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and M Shed and further staff roles (starting with a Buyer)
2018-19 Ship projects that deliver against our objectives – bring the annual roadmap to life instead of it just being a paper exercise.
2019-20 increase the pace and profitability hi
We expect our services to be the best they can possibly be in our sector. Not just better than before or better than our nearest comparable museums. We should be as good as the best of the best anywhere on the planet. We have made over 300 changes to the retail business. We have made every mistake possible and will make more mistakes in the future. In no particular order I present a number of key changes:
Spent lots of time watching how customers used the shop and listening to the retail teams views on everything
Hired the services of an expert – Retail Thinking are a a consultancy who specialise in heritage retail and have been key to accelerating our growth. I have engaged Retail Thinking to help me learn the business of retail and act essentially as a head of retail. Money well spent
Visit dozens of retail businesses all over the world and understand what works and doesn’t – I cannot stress enough how important it is to just watch other retail in action
Ask for help – I have contacted and had help from many many amazing people in the sector. A special hat tip to Genevieve, Lycia, John and Alex
04/05/2015 rolled out Shopify POS as until now the staff EPOS didn’t collect product sales history or have any useful reporting – choose Shopify as it is affordable, great 24/7 support and has scalability
Introduce Performance as a key strand Collect, Share, Use – Collect data , share it widely and especially publicly and make an effort to use that data. Sharing our performance data has led to invaluable collections. Performance is one of the four key pillars of retail. The others are Buying, staff skills and visual merchandising. Thinking of everything we do through these four strands helps keep us organised
Removed the £5 minimum limit on card payments which immediately boosted sales
Instead of calling the retail manager or me to get permission every time a customer had a non standard enquiry I told all staff that if the decision has a value of £100 or less they are free to make the decision – rapidly speeds things up and improves customer service. Typically the customer wants to do a deal on bulk orders
30/06/2018 Refit Bristol Museum & Art gallery which included removing the stockroom to enable 20% more selling floor space – funded by Bristol Museum Development Trust [sales ended 52% up on previous year] and refit by ARJ-CRE8
Introduced the new role of Buyer which has been a fantastic decision and the benefits are already showing
Experiments with pricing including bulk discounts for buying The Guide to the Art Collection
Sales 100% increase compared to 2014/15 for 2018/19
2019 (current year to do)
28/03/2019 launched M Shed Souvenir Guide which is the second print publication of its type. The original wasn’t popular largely due to a weak cover
Friday 22nd March 2019 marks a fantastic milestone as our retail officially tipped over the 100% growth in revenue since taking over in 2015. A huge thanks to all our customers, teams and those who have helped us make every possible mistake and still keep on rolling.
We trust our workforce (yes including volunteers who are super critical) to fly the flag for us day in and day out. To represent our brand in the flesh and to tell the stories of our organisation. Oh and no small feat to ensure the safety of both the public and our collections. Every interaction with our customers at our venues, on the phone or by email is an opportunity to delight. Our museums alone welcome over a million people a year.
Yet nearly every organisation still insists on holding tightly to social media with a select few as guardians. Worried about tone of voice or that something bad may happen. We are happy to let folks loose in the physical environment (and again keep us all safe) and tell amazing stories to people, protect rare and priceless objects but not tweet ?! Who better to tell stories online than the very workforce who do this for us on a daily basis.
Please set your social media free. Provide simple guidelines [see our social media principles] and training then bring the rest of the workforce online. Social media wants to be free. It will pay you back with the stories people will tell that they already know captivate your audience.