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Manager's To Do

February To-Do List: Plan Those Summer Events, Shop A Competitor, Study Your Best Customers

Try these ideas to make the month more productive.

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Feb. 4-9

EVENTS In-store events are one of the best ways for independent retailers to differentiate themselves from their online peers, generate traffic and energy, build relationships, and show you’re human. They can also be a headache to organize. So let’s move on from “seat of the pants” marketing to a yearlong calendar for events and promotions, which will prove to be a huge stress reliever. Get scheduling!

STRATEGY Go out and shop a competitor this week, or send a salesperson to do it. Look to compare their customer service, sales, price points, their “unique selling point.” An understanding of the local competitive landscape will allow you to strategize better.

MARKETING Send press releases to local media outlets offering them a story about what pet owners are buying their loved ones this year. Editors love animal twists on human stories.

Feb. 11-16

PLANNING You’ve no doubt heard of the 80/20 rule. Put it into practice. Identify your top customers and make yearlong plans targeting them. Have your sales staff research what, when and how their best 20 percent of customers buy. Use this information to target their needs and deliver better and more personalized service. Input this information in your customer management database.

DATA SECURITY It’s the time of year to back up all customer and store data and other important files. (Most small business networks can be backed up to a single external hard drive.)

GOODWILL Share the love. Send Valentine’s cards to your customers with a simple message: Enjoy the day!

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Feb. 18-23

FINANCES If your fiscal year ends in December, you should have your financial statements finalized by Feb. 28. Make an appointment to see your CPA.

DECOR Winter drags on … but you can get a jump on spring with fresh flowers in your store.

ONLINE The notion of creating a sea of content in the form of a company blog that Google can’t ignore may seem daunting, but it’s actually not so hard. Start with the 100 questions customers ask on a daily base and you turn them into 100 blog posts with those questions transformed into the titles.

Feb. 25-March 2

MARKETING It’s a humble tool, but the old business-cards-in-the-fishbowl-by-the-cash-register thing still works. The reward for a weekly lucky draw? A gift card.

FINANCES Check with your bank to see if they offer payroll assistance. Many banks now provide a service that allows you to log onto their website and enter your workers’ hours. The bank then makes a direct deposit into employees’ checking account as well as paying your federal and state withholding taxes.

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