Monday, February 2, 2009

Day in the Life

I get up around 7am, while the family is still sleeping. This gives me about an hour to myself, during which time I check my e-mail and Facebook, write my blog, and login into the POS machine at the store. Since I work the day shift, I'm curious about the evening sales. I check every item that sold, determining whether to order it again. Then I work with the sales numbers, the key ones being the gross sales and cost of goods, which get plotted on my "open to buy" worksheet. Next I look at the money collected: a cash worksheet and a credit card report allow me to track cash on a daily basis. This tells me how well we're doing and if I have money to buy new games.

Now that I know how much money I have to spend and how much I have going in to the bank, I'll often create automated purchase orders based on re-order information. These are estimated "wish lists" that will get heavily modified after the sales reps explains the reality of what's actually available, as well as stuff I pre-ordered that rolled in, often unannounced. I place orders almost daily, while most stores do it once or twice a week. I do this because we're understaffed, in my opinion, and it's much easier to process a smaller order every day with one person than a gargantuan order a couple times a week. Daily orders also allow me to keep my promise of "next day delivery" on customer special orders. Doing all this from home saves me about a half an hour of time, so I can leave a half hour later to get to the store if I want.

I usually get to the store around nine to nine-thirty, giving me at least 30 minutes to set up. Running a retail store has elements of performance to it, so after the basics of turning off the alarm, turning on the light and preparing the register, I need to turn on the DVD player, the satellite radio, and spend about 15 minutes touring the store to make sure the shelves are in order before show time. The higher the evening sales, the more it seems the shelves are in disarray, as the single staff person had less time.

If I had a store log book, I would be looking at it to see what strangeness occurred in my absence. Instead we use e-mail. If you haven't been facing the general public, it might be hard to understand what kind of shenanigans can occur. Every conceivable person allowed to leave a building on their own can walk into your store, so anything that can go wonky eventually will. Throw in criminals, the certifiable (I'm not talking accountants), and the average knucklehead and they'll make a mess of your plans in some way. Hopefully my staff hasn't been ripped off, scammed or terribly confused in my absence.

Most of my day consists of helping customers, doing some light cleaning, paying bills, and trying to ascertain what's new with game products. A lot of the "what's new," including industry rumors, I learn from my sales reps, but I also check the Game Industry Forum (GIN), a depressing, array of debates, but often a good source of raw data. I check several industry news sites, like ICV2, and Purple Pawn. If I really want to waste a lot of time or try to gain some "primary" knowledge, I'll visit various fan sites like Dakka Dakka, Bell of Lost Souls and There are only a couple blogs that I read, such as Chris Pramas' Ex Teenage Rebel. If I were seriously intent on staying informed, I would probably listen to more gaming podcasts, like Michael, my manager, does. Lately the signal to noise ratio on gaming podcasts is a lot like reading discussion boards, so although I've been downloading them, I tend not to listen too often.

I'm skipping stuff, like eating my sandwich alone at the counter, and fielding calls from manufacturers and vendors. Really though, if you focus on your customers, keep the store clean and organized, and stay informed, you've covered all your bases for operations. With store management covered, business owner work comes into play.

How will I spend my advertising dollars? Am I minimizing my expenses? Is my current strategy mapping to my business plan? Have I communicated with my investors lately? Are they happy with me? For most I've gone from their worst investment to their best, since I pay dividends and they haven't lost any money with me. Is my event calendar full of meaningful, profit making events? If not, do they at least fill an important customer niche? Am I prepared for conventions and trade shows? Each year this stuff gets a little bit easier, but you can also get into a complacent rut. In business you either grow or you die, and it gets harder each year to bring in more customers or come up with more money making plans. You just have to keep plugging along and asking if what you're doing is working. Usually you have to ask, because it's hard to tell.


  1. I don't think you ever qualified as "worst" investment, maybe "riskiest" but that's not really the same thing.

  2. When the people who aren't allowed to leave a building by themselves manage to sneak out, then the fun really begins... Still, well after the fact, these incidents make good drinking stories.