The Easter school holidays often mark the start of the busiest time of the year for many tourism businesses across the country, with visitor numbers soaring overnight in eager anticipation and hope that the great British weather will be kind this time around!
As any good cub scout knows; the key to success is preparation – and this is no different for those businesses looking to make the most of the upturn in demand. We’ve worked with some of the country’s best and well known visitor attractions, from Lord’s Cricket Ground to The Eden Project in Cornwall, so we know all too well that stocktaking should form a vital part of your planning.
“But you stocktake at the end, not the start, don’t you?” we hear you say! In fact, the answer is both (and also in between), but let us explain exactly why you need to be getting a firm handle on your stock levels before the busy season begins.
The importance of getting it right from the outset
People can often think of stocktaking as long lists of numbers; whether that’s the amount of branded t-shirts or the personalised memorabilia in the gift shop, it’s all seen as endless numbers, facts and figures.
In reality, stocktaking is there to make sure you can maximise any given opportunity. How does it do this? By making sure that you know what you’ve got at any given time, which in turn allows you to sell what you’ve got. After all, if you don’t know that you’ve got it, you definitely can’t sell it!
So now that we’ve covered that, we can also understand why you need to know exactly what it is you’ve got from the very outset. The answer is simple; you’re entering the most important time of your trading period, which means you want to maximise that opportunity. How do you do this? By conducting a stocktake to gain that knowledge and understanding.
You then know what you can sell, what you need and when you need it.
You’re maximising the opportunity.
The consequences of getting it wrong – a growing problem
Not getting it right from the start can be a growing problem that builds throughout the summer and has quite drastic consequences on your bottom line and overall sales. There are a number of reasons for this:
Ordering based on inaccurate information
If you’re ordering stock based on inaccurate information, then you’re likely to be ordering the wrong amount. This can lead to excess stock being carried, which in turn ties up working capital, or can mean that some items are inadvertently out of stock and therefore unable to be sold. Both are not good when it comes to maximising that opportunity.
Training for those seasonal staff
If you’re a visitor attraction or any other type of tourism business, you’re highly likely to need a little extra support during the summer months. This means that there’s an increased emphasis on training staff no matter what their role in the stock chain – whether that’s working on the tills, in the warehouse or labelling items in your store. In reality, no matter how great your training initiatives are, mistakes can and will be made when staff turnover is high or there are new members of a team joining. We’re only human after all!
If those mistakes are made on top of an initial inaccurate view of stock levels then the problem is only going to get bigger and bigger. Definitely no maximising the opportunity when that happens! And also a prime reason that ongoing stocktaking is essential, too!
Shoplifting costs UK retailers more than £600 million each year. Just as with the staff training above, if items are being stolen on top of that incomplete understanding of stock levels, then you’re almost certain to see particular items unavailable to sell at key times. With lead times for procurement during busier periods often longer than in winter months, this can lead to those items being out of stock for a considerable amount of time. Something you definitely don’t want.
The conclusion – what should you really be doing?
The answer is to make sure that you have the most accurate understanding you can of your stock at all times. The only effective way to do that is by working with an independent stock-taker before, during and after your busy period.
We’ve worked with some of the leading visitor attractions in the UK. To discuss your stock and how we can help you increase margins, profit and sales through our stocktaking services please give us a call on 01637 874609.