Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Today is the Day

"Today is the day." I told my sales rep.

"What are you talking about now?" he replies, probably leaning back in his chair, popping open a diet Coke, and preparing for one of my crazy stories. I have to admit I abuse my sales reps just a little bit. Running a store can be lonely, and they are some of the few people who understand what we're saying, and most importantly, they kind of have to listen. He regularly "talks me off the edge," a phrase which we've replaced with a West Coast equivalent, "driving into the desert." I can bounce business ideas off him and he understands my position and my opportunities. Anyway, I continued on with my crazy story.

"Each year my purchasing budget gets out of control and I don't recover until Christmas Day. It wreaks havoc on the finances for months. Today is the day I can stop it. Looking back, it's always this day. It's like the Terminator series."  Alright, I didn't mention Terminator, mostly because my sales rep is not a geek and he'll just make fun of me after he asks me what the hell I'm talking about. The same is true when I gush about games.  "Ohh, cool," I'll say, "Check out the new Reaper mini, Peaches the biker chick!" I'll hear a sigh on the other end and then, "It's just a piece of frikkin' metal!" I'm vaguely more respectful yet perplexed by this lack of geekiness. Oh yeah, and we've been doing this for six years.

"So whaddya gonna do about it?" he plays along. You see, he knows that I carefully track all my purchases in an Open to Buy spreadsheet, and that I kind of evangelize that process. He also knows that I'm more focused on pleasing my customers than some stupid spreadsheet and that I'm always complaining about being over budget. It's very hard to actually "budget" purchases. It's more a process of stopping the bleeding after it happens. My spreadsheet is a kind of screw-o-meter. How screwed am I right now?

"This time I'm not going to let that happen." I inform him. Here's where I have choices to make. Inventory is a zero sum game and the game trade has just dropped about $4,000 of new stuff on me. So do I stop ordering $4,000 of old stuff? Do I go leaner on the depth of stock? Do I let product go out of stock for a while as we transition to a significant change in our inventory balance? Do I have a sale to dump dead product before the bills hit for this new stuff?  The answer: Yes.

"Good luck." He says, with a small chuckle at the end. We then get down to business, the ordering of thousands of dollars of restock from the busy holiday weekend. My budget says I have $168.24 to spend today.

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