As a business owner, it's important to constantly be vigilant about your profits and costs. Here at Sentry we offer a service called Grade & Grow sessions in which we work with business owners to review the past year's performance and make adjustments in the business where need be. These sessions ultimately allow a business to be more successful the following season and in the long run.
During the off-season, Sentry Equipment will help you look at the data from your past season's sales and help you make adjustments to your business so that ultimately you can be more successful. This data collected through the season can tell us a lot and is extremely helpful in building the future success of your business. It allows us to look at sales of certain products and tells us what we can and could be selling more of (for more profits) if we were more focused.
The spring and summer months are extremely busy times for any frozen dessert shop owner. The slower off-season allows one to really review the past season and look at the numbers and look at what we sold that benefited the business the most. The off-season also allows one to make plans for the next season and invest more time and energy into the products and resources that make you more profitable. Planning during the off-season is very important to the success during the on-season - so the slower off-season is the time to strategize and layout a plan. It's a time to reflect and ask what did we do last season that worked and what can we do next season that will work even better.
What things can we analyze?
P&L. One of the first things you can analyze is your profits and losses. A profit and loss statement can tell you a lot about what type of shape your business is in. By reviewing these numbers you should clearly see if your food costs are too high or if your prices are too low. Obviously, the goal here would be to increase profits while lowering costs. This is a good opportunity to look into your utility costs to see if there are any opportunities for improvements.
Compartmentalize sales. If you're using a POS (point of sale) system, it should be able to compartmentalize your sales and provide you insight into the different products you're selling and the different sizes purchased for each product. What product did you sell the most? What size did you sell the most? Compare the two side by side and you may find some interesting results as to what you can charge for different products of different sizes.
Marketing. Creating and using a marketing calendar allows you to stick to a marketing plan all year while being vigilant with new marketing opportunities when they arise. A marketing calendar should lay out what you're going to do to market your business on a monthly basis. Whether your marketing consists of social media, direct mail, SEO, Google My Business or community involvement, you need to stick to it all year long and be consistent with it. The slow season is really when you should be focused on marketing and don't think that just because you're busy or slow you should ever skimp on marketing. Marketing is something you should focus on all year round.
Products. Are you offering and selling the right products to your customers? If you offer different or additional products, would you be more profitable? You should certainly know what products sell better than the others at this point. You might find out that milkshakes are the big seller but you might not be charging enough for them. Maybe you could sell a shake for more money if you add another ingredient and change the name. Little tweaks in your menu items could equal big profits. Besides the products we're selling to the customers, we can also look at the products that we're buying from distributors. Look for additional savings or opportunities to save money when buying products. Always be checking that the price you're buying your products at is competitive with other vendors?
Employees. It is important to review the human element of your business as well. Hiring and training the right employees will have a huge factor in the success or failure of your business. Look at your labor costs of the past season. Was it worth it having that employee work that many hours? How did that employee performance throughout the season? Is there room for improvement or should you eliminate that position altogether? This all comes back to hiring the right employee and making sure they're are properly trained.
With the increased competition in this industry, it's getting harder and harder to get the attention of customers. We need not just to look at the profits of our business but the efficiency of it as well. Using the numbers from the past season will help us be better next season.