Thursday, May 5, 2022

Reconciliation Rituals

This is a "day in the life" post. It's what I do between the time the store closes and the time it opens again. Oh, you thought we were done when the store closes? Not even close. Every store owner has their rituals. These are mine, and they've mostly been unchanged for years. Technology has improved them, but I don't take advantage of every technological leap; I don't sync my POS to my accounting software, for example. My rituals represent a tight degree of control of inventory and money. This is by no means the most efficient way of doing things, so as always, it's what I do, not necessarily what I recommend.

We begin (it never really ends) when the store closes at ten o'clock. It may not actually close until later than that, as late as eleven on Fridays. I am getting old and I would prefer to be asleep by then, but I always try to stay up for closing. On weekends we close earlier, but that will probably change soon.

Upon closing, I look at the sales report. I often look at it throughout the day, but if I've been busy, I look at it now. Every sold item has a re-order threshold. That number is dynamic and changes often. Now is when I change it, based on past performance and a bunch of subjective factors. I could change this number when I create purchase orders for restocks, but it's better if I do it now, since it's on my mind. Often there are several hundred lines of sold items in a day, and if I don't have the time, I'll focus on big ticket items. I might say anything over $50 gets a look. A store makes money in the buying, more than the selling, and this activity links directly to buying.

Staff run an end of day report. They cc me a copy, which includes the cash deposits and an explanation for any discrepancies. Sometimes the explanation is "I don't know why we're up $20." My manager then investigates and emails me back with an explanation the next day. I don't ask him to do this, it just happens. This is a clear chain of responsibility and it took years to figure this out. I enter the cash deposit manually into Quickbooks, along with the amount of credit card transactions from an integrated report. I might also need to move money manually from Paypal. Stupid Paypal. Dude can send a car into space, but couldn't code nightly deposits.

If it's a particular day, or if sales are crazy, I might decide to place an order or two at ten or eleven at night. Yes, I'm tired, but I want to get a head start. If I know I'll be busy, because I game every Sunday, for example, I'll start placing orders earlier, like on Saturday. Rushing orders is bad (although being tired is bad too), and it's better to take my time on Saturday and miss some sold Sunday items, rather than feel the stress of the Monday morning rush. Mondays used to be an orders only day, but I now prefer to take Mondays off. Of course, Mondays are when sales reps want to inundate me with stuff, which I'll get to later.

The next morning we open at 11am, but I'm usually up with the sun. I check various POS reports and log into my bank to make sure everything checks out. Usually the cash deposits from the night before aren't recorded yet, but I'll double check the deposit from the day before that. I like to manually reconcile all deposits and all debits at this time. This helps me spot errors, maintain cash flow and reassures me things are fine. I have spent years with a few days of cash flow, so at some times this has been mandatory. Nowadays I like to maintain six figures amongst the accounts, thanks partially to our government loan. Baller.

I am happy when: The money is where it's supposed to be. The stock is set to order the proper amounts. Orders are placed. I can now go out and explore the world, at least until lunch time. What happens next is a chaotic mess. Distributors and suppliers have sent emails, since I won't answer my phone. There are new releases, questions to be answered, pre-orders to be placed. Invoices begin peppering my inbox and don't let up until late at night. Alliance orders notoriously show up around 10pm, and I'll reconcile them upon arrival, because I'm foolish like this. Asmodee orders need to be scraped from their website to obtain tracking numbers. All of these invoices require manual or some sort of automated import of new items. All require me to find photos and descriptions for our online store, that only accounts for 10% of our sales.

My goal of traveling six months out of the year in Mexico is to work from around sunrise to lunch time and have the rest of my day free to explore. Let's call it 20 hours a week, but I bet I can get that number down. This will require me to ignore a lot of nonsense until the following morning. This is an interrupt driven field, and some folks, like ACD and Games Workshop, even send me work to do on Saturdays. The people that set up those Saturday tasks certainly aren't awake when they're assigned. Getting my hours down will require me to streamline my rituals, without sacrificing fidelity. It may require some delegation, but working from home now, I don't see anything in particular that needs delegating. I have traveled for several months with a manager completely in control of the business, spending an hour a day derping around with emails and such. I know that can be done too, but I like the control I have now.

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