Well we all wished for a summer and we have been blessed - my Native American sun dance clearly worked this year (it failed the previous four times!) and we saw a 20% hike in like for like sales during the sunny spell.

However the dreaded summer holidays did present a challenge in our village of Hassocks, with footfall and consequently sales falling in that order. While it’s great to have an affluent demographic it can be hard when the summer holidays come along because it seems as though everyone in the village takes long holidays abroad (lucky them!). I have spent the last five years trying new initiatives to boost this six-week sales period with limited success; it’s very difficult to increase customer spend if the customer is not in the country.

So, we decided to take a different view this year, using the period to help our operation run smoother via various initiatives such as encouraging our key staff to take holiday, and utilising the younger staff base to cover.

We also instigated a full training review to use the period to ensure that all training was refreshed, such as under-age sales validations which keep us legal and compliant. We also conducted a large proportion of our range reviews during this period, ensuring our sections were up-to-date with the most relevant range and that we were stocking key category and new lines.

I also used the ‘free’ time personally to review my financial business plan that I write for the business every year and updated it where necessary. This is key to concentrating on my strategy for the latter part of the year and where we need our energy. I already do detailed weekly sales and cash flow analysis and monthly financial management accounts, but a good holistic review of performance to date over the year is something that I find really concentrates the mind.

It gives me a lot of confidence when I know where my business is and what is doing or not doing and I find it scary when I speak to other business owners (not just retailers) who don’t do this as a matter of course. I know personally that things can slip very easily and before you know you it can have a real problem. As is in most areas of life these days, knowledge is power!