Hardware Retailing

JAN 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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January 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 51 For example, the study showed the area had a big appetite for grills, but the store had very few outdoor barbeque items to offer. Cicuttini brought in new product lines and repositioned the category to be a grill destination. "We really analyzed what people were purchasing the most in our market, and then became strong in those areas," he says. Another major change in the product selection was a greater emphasis on fashion items, such as faucets, showerheads, vanities and lighting. He expanded assortments to include more options and displayed them in a more prominent area of the store so customers could easily see what was available. Part of the strategy, he says, was an attempt to make it more appealing to female shoppers. Stocking more fashion-oriented items also meant he could market his store as a project destination where DIYers would be more likely to make larger purchases, rather than just being a convenience hardware store. Creating a Business Plan After the market study was finished and he had analyzed the results, Cicuttini finished setting up the document that would help him set his direction for the coming months—his business plan. The business plan, he says, was the most indispensable tool he had as he began to plot the store's path to profitability. To make sure he stuck to that plan, it was important to refer frequently to financial statements, such as the income statement and balance sheet, to monitor the health of the business. "When you're taking over a store that's been in financial trouble, it's important to have your finger on those numbers on an almost daily basis to make sure you're not sliding backward but always heading in the right direction," he says. If you only look at a business plan or refer to those key indicators every few months, he warns, you can quickly fall out of line and into a hole that's difficult to escape. Instead, know the key indicators such as margins and sales that will alert you to the health of your business, and refer to them regularly. Then, when you spot a problem, you can react quickly and make the necessary adjustments. As Cicuttini was using the market study to determine the best product selection for Brantford Home Hardware, he was also making another important discovery. The store layout was more of a hindrance than a help to shoppers. Endcaps were underutilized, lighting was poor and customers had a difficult time finding what they needed. To fix it, he also changed the layout so it was easier for customers to locate products. The store has two power aisles, which gave him a lot of space for endcaps. He established a schedule of regularly rotating endcaps so customers would always have something new to see. "It really looked like a brand new store when we finished with it," he says. "We found that with the emphasis on good merchandising, people would stay longer, look around more and come back more often. By maintaining our endcaps, we found customers would come in on a weekly basis just to see what was new." Part of Cicuttini's strategy for rebuilding Brantford Home Hardware was stocking more kitchen, bath and electrical fashion items. " When you're taking over a store that's been in financial trouble, it's important to have your finger on those numbers on an almost daily basis. " —Ron Cicuttini, Brantford Home Hardware

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