We are thrilled to have the president of The Retail Smart Guys, Dan Jablons, as a guest this week. The Retail Smart Guys is the premiere consulting company.
Dan Jablons worked in retail while attending the Ohio State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Production. He has worked with retailers such as Walmart, Target, JC Penney, American Apparel, Betsey Johnson, Donna Karan, Jimmy Choo, Charles David, Diesel, Oakley, Tumi, Hollywood Bowl, and many others. He has worked for a clothing manufacturer where he piloted vendor-managed inventory programs, a leading point-of-sale provider (where he installed systems and provided merchandising help to retailers large and small) and internet marketing (where he helped retailers establish a presence on the web.)
In addition to his vast retail background, Dan also has a background in improvisational theatre. He recently appeared on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and is often seen in national commercials. Dan combines his extensive knowledge of retail with his comedy skills to become one of the industry's most popular speakers. He has spoken at Magic, Surf Expo, at local municipal and trade show events, and many other venues.
The goal with this episode was to inform retailers on things going on in the industry, and to help retailers become more profitable. Take a listen as Michelle & Dan discuss inventory planning, open to buy, bookkeeping and technology advice. Highly informative episode for any retailer hoping to make better purchasing decisions, ensure a more positive cash flow and generate more profit!
ep-22 Helping Retailers Become More Profitable
Michelle: Hey there. I'm Michelle Sherrier, and this is the retail whore podcast, the stories and Lessons from the Life and Retail. Hello. Hello, guys. Welcome back. It has been a crazy week. Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday has passed. Shop small. Saturday has passed. And now you guys are well onto your way to what is known as the retail Super Bowl. Matter of fact, most of you or a lot of you, up to 50% of your business is done between now and December 24th. So it is, I'm sure, a crazy time and something that everyone has worked for this last quarter to get ready for it. And at the end of the year, I start to think about 2022 budgets for the people I buy, for budgets for myself and projects I'm working on. And I realize that this is a perfect time to have. On Dan Jeavons. He has a company called Retail Smart Guys. He's an open to buy planner that works with retailers with their numbers to make them more profitable. And it's everything from looking at your inventory, what you are low on, what you have too much on, when's it time to put stuff on sale, to open up dollars, to buy everything? But it's all number based. And I know when I talk to a lot of my retailers and I ask them if you have reports or a reporting system, and usually the answer is no. Know we're here all the time. We know it sells. But I'm telling you right now, your numbers don't lie. And the numbers are the science of the business that are actually going to make retailers extremely profitable. So this is a perfect time to hand down on we talk all things retail. We talk about inventory as well as your old inventory is not like wine and cheese. It does not get better with age. So without further ado, here's Dan Goblins with the retail smart guys. Good morning, Dan. Thank you for joining me on the retail horror podcast.
Dan: Well, thank you for having me. It's great to be here.
Michelle: This is our second time attempting to do this.
Dan: I know.
Michelle: I'm grateful you're doing it. And I appreciate you doing on a Sunday, too, because I know everyone loves their weekends.
Dan: So here's the crazy thing. I'm in Atlanta right now. Oh. And I'm in Atlanta because I'm here shooting a movie.
Michelle: Wow. What are you doing?
Dan: It's a. At first I thought Adam Sandler was in the movie, but it's his production company. But I'm doing this goofy movie with Adam Devine, who was in Pitch Perfect. People remember him from that. And also he was on Modern Family for a while, so he's been around for a while. And but I have a scene with Pierce Brosnan. Wow.
Michelle: That's hilarious. I'm interviewing you for a totally different subject.
Dan: Yes, I know that.
Michelle: Okay. We'll come back to your other part, because I your background is so interesting that I, I can't wait to unpack it a little bit. I always ask everybody the same question every single time is, what was your first job and how old were you?
Dan: My first job when I was 14. Was I worked at Baskin Robbins.
Michelle: Second person that worked at Baskin.
Dan: And so. So I spent the days on the beach and then at night I would go and I'd work at Baskin Robbins. But, you know, the problem was working at Baskin Robbins is you scoop ice cream with one hand all summer long and rocky road isn't exactly soft serve right. So ah, fight your way through it. So about midway through the summer, like my right arm kind of got some definition on my left arm that just held the cone, did nothing. So people would say people was like, Did you break your arm? Right. And I finally went, Yeah, I did, because it was easier than explaining the whole Baskin Robbins.
Michelle: It's a phenomenon to me that so many entrepreneurs started in ice cream. Like, it's now, it's now it's tripping me out because honestly, like, you're probably the sixth. I mean, I started at at Haagen-Dazs, but it truly like it's a phenomenon that now I'm like, I'm starting to strike out now because it's like, what is with ice cream?
Dan: I did not know that. Wow. There's a trend you read about in Businessweek.
Michelle: Who knew? So tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.
Dan: All right. Aside from my Baskin-Robbins exciting experience, which I didn't do so well, that I almost flooded the entire restaurant one time. Although I wasn't billed for food service, although I tried. But I. I've worked in retail or associated to retail really? Since I'm 17. My dad got me a job at a department store for Christmases and and summer vacations and stuff like that. My first job out of college was I worked for a kids clothing manufacturer, but my job was to talk to the retailers. I've worked in the point of sale industry installing point of sale systems into retail stores internationally. And then about 15 years ago now, I started Retail Smart Guys, which is a consulting group, and we focus predominantly on merchandise planning, open to buy sales forecasting and really helping people figure out what the right level of inventory is for their stores to get the ultimate in cash flow and market share and profitability.
Michelle: So you really have kind of dabbled in everything, which I think makes a very well rounded consultant because I was I interviewed my best friend yesterday and she asked me questions and I asked her questions. And one of the questions was with bringing in turns on what? What do you advise? And I might always like do everything, like honestly try everything because I think it makes the most well rounded person and you understand how the industry works literally from the inside out.
Dan: Yeah, well, you know, my dad said that to me many, many years ago. He's like, you know, you have to win no matter what you do with business, at some point there's going to be a dinner. And all all you can talk about is the same thing that you're doing. You're going to be the most boring dinner guy there ever was. So, you know, think about other things, think about other interests, think about other pursuits and that kind of stuff that you'll have things to talk about.
Michelle: Did you spend much time on retail sales floors or were you mostly the back of house?
Dan: No, I did actually during those summers because I was I worked a lot in the toy department. Oh, I think it's because I was 17. They went, well, he still remembers how to play with them, you know. Actually, I also spent a lot of time building cribs for the floor. Oh, God. I'm good at building a crib now. When you build 30 of them in in two weeks, you sort of get down those. What has to happen? I was on the floor a lot, you know, and I you know, between between the work I did in the department store world and also working in the point of sale industry, you know, you spend time on the floor and I will I will tell you this. I do a lot of sales workshops now for different retail stores and stuff like that. And I always tell people, you know, the time you spend on the floor is so valuable for this reason alone. I mean, in any economy, good, bad or otherwise. The one job that is always available is selling jobs, right? No matter what's going on, people are always looking for people who can sell. And if you can learn how to sell on the floor of a retail store, you've pretty much guaranteed your future. Yeah.
Michelle: It's a shame that it's so challenging to find sales people at this point right now in the game of retail. But you're right. I mean, I think anybody I mean, I think any time that you excel at sales anyway, you're able to pretty much sell anything, talk to anybody, have a conversation, be engaging. I think that that's the if you can and it's I don't even know if it's something you learn. I think it's something that's inherently within you, just that natural sales.
Dan: You have to evolve into that for sure. I think if you don't if you don't learn from each encounter, each transaction, each conversation, oh, that didn't go so well. Well, why? Because I was completely artificial when I said, Gee, I really love that bleeding corpse tattoo that's across your face. It's like, you know, if you're at all not genuine about what you say in those conversations, then then people read it. It's ridiculous. So you learn how to be genuine and you learn how to really get interested in talking to people.
Michelle: Yeah, genuine. Like when I was at Fred Segal, like I used to tell my staff, like, if it does not look good on the person, do not say it looks great because they're going to take it home to their family member or wife, girlfriend, whatever, and they're going to be like, Who the hell sold that to you? And they'll never trust you again. So I think the genuine and honestly and I think that people may not want to hear that doesn't lose something looks good on them. But I think, honestly, genuine salespeople are the best salespeople for sure.
Speaker2: Well, actually, one time when I was talking to a store about using us and the buyer, they were saying, Well, this is my best vendor. The reason this is my best vendor is at the end of season, they take everything that doesn't sell back. And I said, you know, maybe they're not your best vendor if they're having to take things back every season that they thought of it that way. Right. And the other people in the room were like shocked, like, oh, my God, I can't believe because it would have been very easy to go, Oh, that's really great, you know, but but I just said, you know what? If they're your best vendor, then you should be sold out. Yeah, I'd be, like, starving for goods, and they should be supporting you and that kind of thing if they're taking it back for what, a credit. So you can be the hamster on the wheel and buy it again next season. Just have it taken back again. Maybe they're not your best vendor at all.
Speaker1: That's that's I mean, that, that is brilliant because honestly, I think that there are so many people that feel that when a vendor will take something back, it makes them their best friend. And it's like, that is that is the most. Eye opening statements, including myself. I was always like, Oh, I'll take it back. That's great. But if it's I mean, that's wow.
Speaker2: I wouldn't care if it happens once in a while. You know, nobody's perfect. Everybody makes a mistake. There is no perfect buyer, there's no perfect manufacturer. And sometimes you make a thing and it's got three sleeves and nobody likes it, you know what I mean? So you make that mistake, but then if they support you, that's great. But if you're every season sending stuff back, you have to wonder what's going wrong.
Speaker1: They're gonna see the buyer or the product. Exactly. You and I, I'm fascinated with what you do. And you had contacted me. You are a Kingfisher Rhodes opened by guy, and you had reached out to me and and I talked to a couple of people. And when I mentioned you and I think there are more retailers than I'd like to admit that don't understand what open to buyers and so will you explain one what your company does and all the facilities that you guys that you guys do. But more importantly, we start with what is an open to buy.
Speaker2: Sure. Well, you know, I could put 50 retailers in a room and say, okay, write down what open to buy is and I'll get 50 different responses. Because nobody really understands it, which is kind of interesting. But really at its core, Open to buy is simply a really good sales forecast combined with an inventory plan that enables you to hit that forecast without under buying and missing sales or buying time catch up unnecessarily. Right. So it starts with having a forecast that actually makes sense. And because we're tied with management one which is which has the largest independent retail database on the planet, by the way, what is one management one or the guys who write the software, the open to buy software that we use in our consulting and then the product is called retail orbit. That's their that's their software. And we utilize that to get the best forecasting in the industry and also to get the best inventory planning in the industry. If you and I both have retail stores and we're fairly good at forecasting and we can kind of figure out what we think we're going to sell. But you end the season with 20,000 of inventory and I am with $30,000 worth of inventory and you win and you have more money than I do.
Speaker2: B, you're not going to have to take the markdowns I'm going to take. And C, customers will recognize that you are in and out of goods better and faster. So they're going to shop you before they shop. So as much as it's numerically like, what should I buy? Which is certainly an important part of it, it's also the centerpiece of how you grow a retail store, how you figure out what's working, not working, and how you figure out what classes of merchandise do you need to actually explode upon to really make a difference in the store and make the store grow and be successful. And that's that's the hallmark of what we do. I say the whole it's that. And also there are other people I've known that have been consultants or do what I do in the business. But they have this thing of like, well, you know, I don't I, I work my own hours. I respond the way we do. I don't do that. You certainly know this from day with me, right? Like when people said I don't go to sleep at night unless my inbox is empty. Wow. And much to the chagrin of my wife, by the way. But the truth of the matter is, if you write to me, it's not because you're looking for a new chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Speaker2: Right? You write to me because there's something going on with your business and you need help with it. And the hallmark of retail smart guys is we respond fast. Right. Even if it's just, you know what? I need to know more. Let's talk tomorrow. You know, when you write us, you're not going to wonder, did they get it? Is it or are they going to write back or that kind of stuff? We recognize that we've got to be on the deck to help retailers as much, especially with what's happened in the last couple of years. Wow. I mean, if there was ever a time that people needed, like, really good, solid advice and really sort of like a good understanding, what the hell is going on out there? This is the moment. Right. So we're very numeric driven, but we are also very much, like I used to say, shoulder to shoulder now shoulder to shoulder, six feet away. But we're still shoulder to shoulder with them in terms of like we celebrate when they win and we cry when they lose and we help them through all of that and every way we can.
Speaker1: So the other the other services that your brand helps retailers with.
Speaker2: We just started a brand new services division that I'm very, very proud of because it's been very successful very quickly nowadays, especially. It's always been true, but it's even more it's more true now. I don't want retailers to spend time or or business owners spending time on things that are not about their inventory, their sales or their customers and their staff to I guess they need to be keeping track of who's there, who's not there. And now, you know, staffing is a crazy thing even right now. I literally was just at a place where they said stamping is the new pandemic. And it's.
Speaker1: I mean, my pharmacy Bert's has five locations and it has been between pharmacy techs to sales help and the gift department has been beyond a challenge like and then not to mention like how almost everybody ended up with COVID at some point in time, like where their fluctuation of loss of people is anywhere from like ten at the most to five or I mean, but it's, it's insane to me how long it's gone on like.
Speaker2: And continue to go on. And actually it's not as much as a lot of people think. It's because of like stimulus money and stuff like that. And that's that's a contributor to it. But the other thing about it is that people are having trouble because of other staffing issues and those kinds of things. They're having trouble finding health care or having daycare facilities for their kids, certainly with schools closed and stuff like that or elder care, it's been very, very challenging for a lot of people just to be to have as crazy as it sounds, the freedom to work. So it's an interesting time. But but so we put together this other thing that's very much all about the boring, administrative, time consuming services that retailers get stuck in, as opposed to focusing on what is their inventory look like, what are their sales look like, are they talking to their customers and are they really being there for their staff? Right. So probably the one that gets utilized a lot right now is purchase order entry. We actually enter orders for retailers in about a I think we're up to eight different point of sale systems now. So what are the.
Speaker1: Points system cells that you work with?
Speaker2: Oh, let's see. We've got retail pro Heartland Springboard, Shopify slash stocking lightspeed, retail edge, Clover. I think all of.
Speaker1: Those are the most major.
Speaker2: Counterpoints is another one. God, I think there is one of the major ones we haven't worked in. And we're actually we're signing a new one this week. So. But because POS is not first of all, it's not a super challenging thing. It's not like, oh, my God, I need to assignment stock. Right. And it's a tremendous time. So we basically we I have a crew that's that's overseas that I have personally trained on a lot of this. And they actually themselves learned a lot of it, too. And we train we we pretend like as if we're a brand new employee for the retailer for the first hour, which we do for free. Let me go show us how you enter stuff because not every enters pos the same way. Right? So we do a free hour at the beginning, teach us as if we were an employee. And after that overnight they're pos, right? Wow. And the benefit to that is that, look, people argue about, well, I don't think I need to put the POS in the system, but you really do for a number of reasons. Certainly in the world of open by when we're sort of assessing like so did you buy the right inventory? Do we have the purchases lined up and stuff like that? There were many open to buy meetings that I would go to and my first would be like, So, you know, scale of 1 to 10, how entered are you in terms of your POS there, you know, and they'd be like, well, I got about 60% in, I got some, I just bought some. And I'll be like, Oh, so now we're going to have to like try to back into the math to figure out if the inventory is right. Whereas if they can do it and you send them to them as you leave work on Monday and then by Tuesday morning, it's all done and set up for you. I mean, why? And we do it at at less than minimum wage.
Speaker1: Wow. So that's like a why would you.
Speaker2: So that's one. The other one we do now is bank reconciliation. And I'll tell you this story because it's a fun one. I was talking to one of my clients and I'm like, God, you're kind of under bond. Like, What are you doing? Are you writing, boss? Well, I'm going to get to that. You're going to get to that. Exactly. What is that? Well, you know, I'm doing some things. I'm going to get to this. What you are what are the things that you're doing? Because inventory is the thing you spend the most money on. It's your biggest asset, it's your biggest expense. And it is the debts by which the car goes retail. So what are you doing that's more important than actually manicuring and curating your assortment to me, right? So I'm doing my bank reconciliations. Oh, God, your bank records something. Okay. If you don't get some good spot, next month's bank reconciliation is going to be a lot easier to do. There'll be a lot less cash to account next month if you don't get some goods rolling in there now and now, especially with the supply chain stuff going on again, what we don't want is them stuck in administrative things when they need to be like knocking on their vendors doors or looking for other vendors who do have this. Yeah, so that inventory is a disaster. So anything that these guys can do that, that takes the administrative overhead away from the owners of the business or people that could be doing clientele and could be doing outreach, could be doing more marketing, could be re merchandising before it could be following your instructions. As someone who teaches them how to re merchandise the floor, any of those things that they could be doing are the things that they should be doing to to preserve their profitability and their market share. Right. So I don't want them banging in POS.
Speaker1: Well, you know, what I've found, which makes me insane, is that they won't they don't put the POS in until now. It's time to get tickets made for it. And so now they're doing it all at the same time as because it's like with birds, it's like as soon as you get the POS, put them in the system that way, then when the inventory comes, you're not like double tracking back to putting it in and then kicking out the tickets. All you do is scan it and go. And that to me also because of the the payroll to have somebody do something, you know, one frantic thing or it's they're so frantic, it doesn't even go in the system. I mean, it's just it's that just that service alone is amazing.
Speaker2: Here's my rant about this. It's a little bit of a rant. That's okay. Here you go. Okay. Most most owners are buyers that put in place do it because they have they know what the goods are. They can describe them well, they and they think they want to look at and sometimes I get I get to say, well, I might change the price when the goods arrive, because they may be better than I thought or worse than I thought. It might change the retail flow. I get all that. But by by accepting that is the truth you have now just change yourself to the store because if you don't put the peel, if you put the pot in than anybody can receive against the PEO and get the goods to the floor faster. Thank you. And there is nothing better in retail than getting the goods to the floor faster right now. That means that you can't if you're at market or God forbid, you take a day off and you're someplace else and goods arrive. Now the goods either sit in boxes in the back and so your customers don't see them any time. Time is ticking on the invoice. Right. Or you have to raise it and do it all by yourself and not and not be the manager, not be the buyer or the owner of the business. You are now the order entry person who types it all in.
Speaker1: Thank you. Thank you for your rant.
Speaker2: On top of that, by the way, as I put my open to buy a hat on and if you're trying to manage cash flow and you're trying to manage what's going to happen in terms of the profitability of your business, how do you know what bills you're going to have to pay two months from now if your POS are not in the system? And sure, it could shift around a little bit. They'll be early, they'll be late, they'll over ship, they'll sort ship. I get it. It's not exact. But what in retail is exact, right? So at least I know I have x thousand of bills I'm going to pay in three months. So I got to start thinking about how am I going to lay out my marketing and my selling for that, to cover that and make sure that I have money to buy myself an occasional donut. You know what I mean? Like you, you have to you have to really have these things all laid out. It's part of professional retailing and it's the difference between good retailing and great retail.
Speaker1: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Speaker2: Thank you. All right. Take a breath. You're not ready.
Speaker1: So your other services along with data entry now.
Speaker2: So we do we do purchase order entry, we do bookkeeping and we've done some really it's funny, you know, some people bookkeeping my account does or I have a guy that comes in or someone comes in types of stuff and then I go, Well, how often do you look at your financial statements to manage the business? Well, I don't really understand them. I don't know what they mean anyway. Right. And they're wrong anyway. Right. But with this with this service, what we've been asked to do is not only get people's books organized better than they've ever been before. Right? But now they're actually living documents that they can use to manage them, their businesses, and figure out why they don't have cash.
Speaker1: Why is that? Most reason why most people don't have cash.
Speaker2: Bad management of their expenses. And mostly it's bad management of their payroll. There's a lot of it where it's just like everything's gone, gone crazy or they didn't follow to buy plan. We gave them and they landed a ton more inventory than they should have. Or they didn't land enough inventory so they don't have enough inventory to drive sales. I mean there's a lot of reasons that and into working parts that all work together but by having the financial statements along with the open to buy plan, you now have a comprehensive view of the business that you know as much as it's it's not just about reporting the results. I don't ever want us to think of ourselves as like junior accountants presenting taxes. It's not that. It's that when you get all that stuff put together and you look at it and then you look at the open to buy plan and you look at the direction that they're going in, you go, Okay, now I know what to do with it. Immediately it opens up the world of like, what should we do with this business? Where should it go? How do we grow it? Where is our growth going to come from and how do we you know, it's not like a service business where you can just go out, promote it and hopefully get more people come in. If you don't plan the inventories and plan your expenses in such a way that you are headed towards a particular growth objective, you're never going to get there. You have to plan the inventory. And now more than ever with the supply chain is what it's doing with it. Right now. I'm telling everybody, you got to place orders now. You've got to make sure that the vendors know to make the goods, because if they don't have your orders, they're not going to know to make them.
Speaker1: Yeah it's the supply chain is wrecking havoc a guy my I because I'm not in my stores every day so I'm not there to see what arrives and I will start to see the merchandise. If it's late, they'll tell me, Hey Michelle, blah blah blah is late. So for the most part, I don't really see what's arriving. And I got to Bert's a couple of weeks ago and it was like, Mud Pie is one of our biggest vendors. We got two things from them a butter dish and holiday napkins. And like what? Like and then you start to ask for delivery dates and it's like they'll send you date to dock. And it's like Halloween was due. 1021 And a lot of these companies, not a lot. All these companies, unless you cancel it, we'll still ship it to you like.
Speaker1: And, you know, and then holiday most of my holiday was like do in 1121. And I see all sudden it's like, okay, cancel that and we're having to make non holiday stuff look holiday.
Speaker1: Which will be really interesting to see the sell through to be honest, the sell through.
Speaker1: A older goods and new stuff that's not Christmas or because I don't buy deep into holiday, because it just to me always ends up on sale. And you know, the big guys have it on sale before you do. So it's I've kind of avoided writing it. We do a little so you have the presents, but it it'll be interesting to see the sell through now on everyday goods and stuff we've had and owned for a while that we didn't put on sale. It's like every day that part of the equation is going to be interesting to me at the end of the year.
Speaker2: Is another thing that I think is key in all of this, right? We're all trying to figure out this supply chain madness and that kind of thing. And it's really bad, but. In this or any economy. The key to one of the keys, I think that gets missed. A lot of times buyers go to shows, they go, I could sell that. I could sell beer. So that's cool. I could sell that. Or my customers will like this. And that's that's that's part of their instinct that is irreplaceable. Right. You have to have that level of instinct to to really have a successful store. But the other part of it that makes a huge difference is it's not just about what can I sell? It's also about what inventory should I have at the end of the season.
Speaker1: What do you what do you suggest or what is what is?
Speaker2: Well, listen, in terms of specificity, the holiday stuff, I would rather be sold out and out of those goods than have anything Christmas on December, the day after Christmas Day. Right. So I would because here's the thing. You can say you're going to carry it over. You could then bring in a team from NASA to hermetically seal it in a time capsule so that it's perfect when you open it again next year. But no matter what you do to protect those goods, to bury them in the earth so that nothing happens to them until you bring them out next year, they still look like last year's goods no matter what you do. Yep, customer knows it, your staff knows it, you know it. And the big lie of carryover will still work next year is a big lie. Not only that, but now you have money tied up in that inventory that you can't spend on things. So you'll miss a trend that's happening right now because of it, right? One of my stores, that's a toy store, there's this new sort of like remember like the flippy things that were like the spinner things, right? The I forget. What are they, the puppets? Yeah, that's something. Right. But but now they make them with like things that you can pop on them. Like, you know, like people like to pop the. Yeah.
Speaker1: It's a weird phenomenon.
Speaker2: It's expanded with the thing like that. You would pop like for the packing material that you got, know the bubble wrap stuff, right? So it's like the ultimate of like finger things, right? So if someone thought that things were right when it happened because he had control over his inventory and what did have all of his money dumped into inventory and as a result, had some had some free cash to be able to buy into it. He was first into it and he made a fortune with it because he was able to actually get in there and do it right. And that's the benefit of of turning faster of having faster turns on your inventory and preserving your cash is that you see a trend. You're a good buyer, you buy into that trend and you capitalize on it and your customer recognizes they should be with you.
Speaker1: So what what do you consider? I mean, I'm going so off topic, but what do you consider a fast turn?
Speaker2: You know, there's not one answer for that. It depends on the category. Right. General t shirts can turn super fast. They can turn 5 to 6 times year if they're really done well. Right. Did you say gift?
Speaker1: Gift at home? Yeah. Gift. Yeah.
Speaker2: You know, I'd like it to be a little over a three to a four turn. Sometimes they can be faster than that, you know, depending on what it is. But again, it's not like, you know, in especially in gifts at home, there's peaks and valleys throughout the whole year to that. Right. There are certain months where that will pick up and be big and then the certain months where it gets a little quiet. And so peaking and valuing your inventory to go along with the peaks and valleys and sales is part of what we have to forecast for.
Speaker1: So do you suggest people write their boss out like I write mine in delivery windows? I know people that there's a store I used to work with in Bakersfield. It's like took everything ASAP and then it sat in storage for months until it was time to pull it out. And I was like, always pulling my hair out. So what what is your.
Speaker2: One of the things that we measure is the freshness of the inventory, how new deliveries are. We know if there's new deliveries that they have a chance to sell the full price. We know if they've been sitting on our goods for months, then they're going to take markdowns. Right. If your customer comes in this month and they see what they saw last month, they're not coming next month. Yeah. So to the degree that you can have new stuff on the floor that continues to surprise and engage your retailers, your customers, rather. Is the degree that you're going to get people that have to come back to the store? Right. So and then people are telling me, well, I'm going to bring it to my warehouse and then I'll flow it in myself and I'll figure it never happens.
Speaker1: Well, somebody always ultimately forgets something's there or a box get buried and you get big.
Speaker2: Sometimes people buy and stock a store like goodbye and stock office supplies. So if I buy 3000 pens, I have to worry about it for six months. That's not how inventory for sale works.
Speaker1: I laugh because I know people that do that.
Speaker2: Yeah, for sure. It's like, I know I have it. I'm like, okay, good. But you know.
Speaker1: So what point do you tell your clients it's time to put stuff on sale? Like, do you do you try and sell it a couple of different ways before you finally decide, all right, pull the plug. It's not working. Like, what is your perfect?
Speaker2: I think there's a cadence to putting stuff on sale. Right. First you have to, like, look at it. And identify that you have a problem. Now, some of this may come from the fact that I come from the point of sale industry, right. But like a lot of people run selling reports and I go, well, that's great, but do you ever run what's on hand? No. Why don't you run that? Well, it's probably wrong. Know, elves did not arrive in your store in the middle of the night and change the inventory in your computer. Right. It happened because you either didn't receive it right or sell it right or transfer right or to the physical event. Right. But you should be looking at your sales in relation to your receiving and you're on hand to identify if I've got something that's not moving the way it should. Right. And the answer, oh, I'm here every day. I see it is not it.
Speaker1: Is exactly what I was ask you because that's what I hear every single freaking time.
Speaker2: Okay, sorry that here's here's my answer to that OC Good. Please tell me your fourth best vendor, who's your fourth best selling vendor, number four. Because I know you're number one because you're there every day. Who's number four? Who's number five? Because that's where opportunity is lingering. Right. The reason you have a point of sale system and the reason that you have reports is to be able to identify the things you don't see as a human. Because guess what? When you're in the store every day, you also get wrapped up in some employee squabble that happened that now you're having to play referee on. You're involved in some awful vendor phone call because stuff didn't land. And you miss all the details of all the other things that are happening in the store. They're just going to pocket a pocket pocket. They're just rolling along that you didn't see because you weren't watching. Right. So it starts with identifying what it is and some strategies and techniques for identifying. Then after that it's okay. Well, you know, and this speaks specifically to what you do. Michelle. But. But it's. Is it merchandised well? Do people see it? Do they know that it's there? Do I have to move it so that it gets a little moment in the sun after that and after you've had a few conversations with salespeople, then maybe it's a script and sales people. Let's get this thing moving and here's a little something extra. If you actually get people to actually see it after that, then you got to start thinking about how you're going to mark this thing down and get it out of there. You know, add merchandise doesn't get better with age.
Speaker1: Thank you. Now. And it's like I work I'm working with a new client and we're going through the product and it's like, how long has this been here? Like, a couple of years. A couple of years. And and it's still at this price point, I might you know, I was telling them OC one, I think it should have been gone a while ago, like drop it on sale if you don't want to put in a sale. I always say put it on blind sale, meaning mark it down less than what it is now without making it a red line item. But two years, two years, like and it's like they know, but it's like, I don't know the retailers mentality of like I will, it will sell at some point. Well, at some point. And it's like at that and all I can see is just sitting dollars.
Speaker2: Like no time for another red. Good. Here we go. Okay, so all of us in the world, the ones we control, have our own cute little sayings. Mine is inventory is neither wine nor cheese. It doesn't get better with age. Right. So the thing is, is that there's a couple of things that retailers need to recognize about inventory that that will sell one day. Right. Number one, you have capital tied up in that inventory that you can't buy into the things that you want to buy. Nor can you do things like hire another person, remodel the store, hire people that like that. Then you want to hire to do things for you, like market your store effectively, buy better merchandise. You can't do any of that because you have money tied up in goods that nobody wants. Number two, it is disheartening for you to look at it every day and equally disheartening for your staff to look at it. And that inventory becomes like wallpaper. It's just as bad and it just isn't going and nobody even looks at it. Right. Number three, and here's probably the most shocking one of all. So, you know you're paying tax on it.
Speaker1: No, no one knows that. Guaranteed.
Speaker2: No one knows that. So not only do you have money tied up in it, now you're spending more money in tax money on goods sitting there that nobody particularly wants.
Speaker1: Oh, my God. I don't think anybody even equates that. Like.
Speaker2: Think about that at all. Number four, if you're the store that always has that hideous green sweater that nobody wanted and it's still there on the floor, everybody goes, Oh, yeah, it's still over there. That thing is still there. Look at that. What's it going to take for someone to buy that at that store? That's not what you want to be famous for. Right. So you know what? Unfortunately. Look, there is no perfect buyer. If you buy something and you've made a mistake and it's not selling and it's 60 days later and you listen. Here's what I want. Given where most people's margins are, it's different in certain industries like PET and that kind of thing. But by and large, if you haven't sold through half of it in 30 days, figure out how you're going to get rid of it. So do I say 30 days? Because the least I can pay the receipt, I can pay the bill. Right. But I old inventory is not your friend. You need to turn it faster. You need to get out of it faster. And to the degree that you don't identify that and have a plan by which you can identify what is older inventory and have a plan to get rid of it that includes a markdown budget to make it go away. You're not going to have again. Think good retailing and great retailing because the store that has money and can attack trends and can do things, fun things, and a store that's just sort of they're hoping that people walk in the door wet.
Speaker1: So my background, I think I told you I came out of Fred Segal and Fred Segal back in the day, had two or one sale a year, one sale year. You were not allowed to mark things down. You you had to literally hold on to it or box it up and hold it until September for the big sale. So as years went on, it would, he added, a second sale like reality I think finally hit that. You can't do that it's still not but we would start markdowns started automatically at 50% off. What do you suggest your retailer start their markdowns at?
Speaker2: I started 28 or 25%.
Speaker1: Okay. And then when do you move them to 50 and 75?
Speaker2: If the 2025 didn't work.
Speaker1: A couple of weeks, a month.
Speaker2: Usually, usually 30 days later.
Speaker1: And then what point do you what you're suggesting like so I.
Speaker2: Don't want kids in the store. I don't want the goods in store. More than 100 the most is 120 days because.
Speaker1: So then what happens? At the end of the day, it's like we have this rack, no one is buying the shit. Like what? What do what at that point do you do donate it. Like where at that point because I have a client that says and I mean you let me know when retailers donate things at the end of the year, like old sales stuff, whatever, they get that tax return or that as a tax break, correct? Not that that's anywhere near what the goods are they do.
Speaker2: But, you know, for certain stores that have already lost money, it doesn't matter. Or, you know, for certain stores, it won't make a difference. I think that's more to do with with the future growth of the store. Look, the step of four, by the way, we merchandising it. And then there's the step between merchandising it and the spiff, which is this. I am a huge proponent and fan of the vendor's scorecard. Now. When I worked for the clothing manufacturer, I learned this because I had to answer the one that was at a big retailer that whose name I won't mention but begins with Wal and ends with March. So anyway, they had a vendor scorecard and their vendor scorecard basically said, you know. It looked at gross gross margins, which on our investment right there was and this is the department average. And if you were above it, we'll see you next season. If you were below it, we'll buy from you if we have to. That was basically how they looked at it.
Speaker1: So for the people that keep going back to the same same much like the O, but they take it back, keep going back to the same vendor that has not had a good sell through.
Speaker2: Well, here's here's the point of the vendor scorecard, right? If I look at the event, if I if I kind of recap with the vendor and I go, here's what I bought. Here's how it's sold. Here's what I'm still stuck with. Right. And I bought it. This is my initial markup. This is what I actually got out of it. This is what I'm sitting with. There's a couple of purposes first. Number one is everybody can then see how we as a group like, you know, how every vendor likes to say, where are your partners? Yeah, right. We're your partners. So I know. Hey, partner. Here's what we didn't do so well, and here's what we did. Great. By the way, I want to say this upfront. The purpose of the vendor scorecard is not just to beat up the vendor. It's also to figure out where the opportunities lie within that vendor. Right. So I look at Avengers for a while. You know what? We killed it in blouses, but we got destroyed in casual pants, so I'm not going to buy those from you again, but I should figure out what else you're doing in casual blouses, because my customers really like those, right? Then if the vendor says. Well, I really want you to buy the casual pants. You have a scorecard that says, well, I didn't do so well. So what's my exit clause here? What's my escape valve? What if it doesn't work? Right? Will you take it back? Right. I find that the vendor scorecard first off, you can figure out who you could vendors are and not just based on who takes it back, but who's actually getting you the most full priced sell through of the goods.
Speaker2: Right. And that's it because you're there every day, but because you actually have numbers that just show it. Right. And you may be surprised at who does it. And you have to look at it on a category by category basis to figure out where they're good, where they're not good. Right. I also find that if a vendor knows that there's a vendor scorecard that they're going to be hit with either at the end of a month or at the end of the season or mid-season or whatever. They suddenly look at your business differently. If they if I know that there's going to be a day of reckoning where you're going to produce a scorecard and you're going to hand it back to me and say, this was your sell team. This is where it didn't work. Right? How am I going to sell you next season? If I have a lousy scorecard as such, I want my scorecard to be amazing. As such, I better think about what I'm offering to you before I put it in your store. I better take a little extra moment to make sure you're getting the best of what I have to offer. And not just. Oh, sure, I'll write. You got to. Oh, sure you want to buy that? Sure, buy that, buy that, buy that. There's no moment where my partner is actually curating my assortment to make sure that they win in my store unless they know that there's going to be a day of reckoning at the end.
Speaker1: Well, I think a lot of people buy because they like the rep so much.
Speaker2: There's definitely a lot of that, right. By the way, your rep, if they're a good rep, will be thrilled to get a better scorecard. You know why? Because it helps them be better reps. It helps them understand what's working and not working. When I was working in this as an on the manufacturing side, I would be called to these meetings where you'd have to sort of talk about what you think you have to make in fall 2070 or something. I mean, we'd have to talk about goods that we were going to make way to the future. What should we think about making for something that's going to be three seasons of the road, four seasons down the road? We got to start thinking about design and procuring fabric and whatever, that kind of stuff. What do I know? The only thing I know is what my retailers are doing, right? So it's a degree that I get really good feedback from the retailer. It's a degree I can be a better rep. The best feedback they can do is is a vendor scorecard. So you can kind of see where am I winning? Where am I losing this style work? These ones didn't. You're good in this category. You're not good in this category. Looks like my customers like this price point, not that price point from you, etc. It enables some much more productive conversations about what kind of merchandise that vendor should be providing for you and how that vendor is doing for you.
Speaker1: I know people are going to ask, So how does a small boutique start up their own vendor scorecard?
Speaker2: I'll have them for free with that.
Speaker1: So you'll. You'll all the links and everything will be in here. But I can already hear the questions like because.
Speaker2: I'm happy to help. It's different depending on the point of sale that you are on. Right. It's not just.
Speaker1: Something you go into with your pals.
Speaker2: Yeah. But basically you have to with your boss typically. But basically what you want, just in broad strokes, is during that particular season, what did I receive? Units cost an initial retail. Then how did I sell it? Units cost and final retail. And what do I own? Units cost and retail, right. Because we look at something called cash margin. Let me explain cash margin for a minute. Thank you. Cash margin is what I sold it retail minus what I received at cost. Now. How is that different from gross margin? Any point of sale will look at something that you bought for $10 and sold for $20 and say your gross margin is 50%. And that's true. Right. But what if you bought 30 and sold one from a cash perspective? You'd be upside down. Yeah. So so if cash margin is looking at what you received at cost, that means that's what I basically wrote checks to my vendors for. And what did I sell at retail, which is what my customers gave me, cash or credit cards just for credit or whatever. And I compare those to if the cash that I generate, if my cash margin isn't close to my gross margin, then either I have I overbought or I'm selling it to inventory I bought a while ago.
Speaker2: And neither of those are particularly good indicators, right? So by balancing that out, we can make sure that that they're turning goods, that they're turning at at the right retails, they're getting full margin out of them, that kind of stuff. And that we have cash back at the end of the day and that is really what Open to buy is supposed to be doing. And that's what it's doing behind the scenes. Like as an example, I'm not a mechanic. I don't know how the stuff in my car works. I don't know what a carburetor does. Does it corroborate something? I don't know. I don't know. But anyway, I don't know what it does. But I just know that my car works because someone else put the engine together and make it happen. I open to buy. Is that for a retail store? It is. Is the engineering of proper cash flow and profit profit.
Speaker1: You had brought up mark up, which brings me to my biggest frustration ever with some vendors like I'm not going to mention who, but they'll do holiday packaging for a men's wear gift set and you buy it for $14 and smack on the front of the on the thing gift set for $28 like it's at a keystone. And I also ask the rep, it's like who's paying freight then like where? How do you think Keystone is no longer even part of where you should be? Marc Like I tell my retailers to point to at the lowest, the very, very lowest.
Speaker2: I the lowest in.
Speaker1: 2.5. 2.5 is where I would prefer to be 2.8. Where is where do you tell your retailers is the magic markup number?
Speaker2: I'd say between. Well, again, it depends on the category. Like jewelry should be higher, too, or it should be as close to three as we can get. Right. And there are certain industries that that it gets higher. There's other industries like the pet industry where you can't. And especially in pet food, pet food is not anywhere near that. But, you know, the interesting thing about what I do now is that I get to see so many different industries in what we do in different types of retail. That's been really it's been fascinating. So it really does depend on the industry. But certainly I'm I always push them towards a higher number because we can always mark it down. But I can't change my mind and mark it back up again. Right? So you got to start high and have a place to fall to you. You have to think about part of the reason why we do a breakeven analysis is to understand how much cash the business has to be to to generate to survive. And then we can build out markups from there. But generally, I would say 2.5 to 2.8 is where most people are.
Speaker1: Okay. I, I just had something on my tip of my tongue and now, of course, I can't remember. Welcome to no sleep. You also do. Sorry.
Speaker2: You've been working crazy hours.
Speaker1: I know it's, you know, it's. It's twice a year and I keep having to literally. That's like my mantra. It's twice a year. Twice a year, because our our install times are one and two and three in the morning. And the ones, the long distance one, I put the team out to stay in a hotel and it's like you can only tell everybody like make sure you go to bed, make sure you get some sleep. But the 1 a.m. tomorrow morning. We have a 1 a.m. at Newport New Newport Beach. And which means I if I'm going to have a same day and I'm going to be able to be working order, I have to go to bed tonight at 530 with my alarm going off at 1130 and it's like your times are so screwed up and and then you come home and it's like, I try not to go to sleep because the next night you still need to go to bed like at that early. So it's like, you know, you'll sleep. But now this week I start doing doubles, so now I start leaving like one job and going to another job where by the end of the week I will be like, I won't be able to form sentences like and at this age, I mean, at this age, it's not easy either. It's like, Oh my God. And I have a 20 year old is like, Oh, we're so tired. I'm all what? I'm 55, like, stop.
Speaker2: Like, Oh.
Speaker1: Your grandma can do it. You can.
Speaker2: Do it. Let's look at you, grandma. Yeah.
Speaker1: Hilarious. That's my nickname for myself.
Speaker2: Well, I, I, I couldn't hear you with my teeth in so.
Speaker1: So you also do trend forecasting. Tell me a little bit about that.
Speaker2: Well, you know what? You can't look at last year because well, first off, especially now because last year was the pandemic and last year means nothing but things change as consumer tastes change and products change and the industry changes. And so as much as we do like to look at last year, this is a reference point. A lot more of what we look at is how are things trending right now? Because that's the that's the opportunity to capitalize on. The other thing, the reason why it's important to look at the industry as a whole and why having the largest independent retail database is so vital, is I've had I've had it where people say to me like I've had I had a client said to me, Oh, well, we can't sell dresses. I said, The only reason you think you can't sell dresses is because you're relying on your own data. And not on trend number one. And number two, you never, ever bought dresses, so you could never figure out if you could sell them or not. So it took some arm twisting, but I had to convince you by, you know. 10,000 addresses just to put them in the store and see if you could sell them. And now it's the third best category in our store. Yeah, right. So you don't know what you don't know, which is why, you know, having people that actually take a broader view of the marketplace is an important thing. You know, you can't you have to be careful. This is a retailer who you talk to, right, in terms of getting valuable, important information.
Speaker2: Right. I don't have an agenda in this other than the store very well. So whether it's vendor A or vendor B or vendor C, I don't care or PLSA or or or marketing technique A, B or C, I just want them to win. Right? But anybody else that they talk to, vendor vendor A solves your problems by selling more. Vendor A. Right. They don't get what you should really not. You should do this. So looking at that, your landlord doesn't care. All they want is the rent. Right? And your account just wants to see money coming in. But your account isn't. No one ever goes to. I say this all the time. If you read any business publication. And they're telling us about some company that's just killing it now, right off the charts, doing great. They don't go to the account and go, How did you do it? And the account doesn't say, well, you know, we save 6% on shipping. So that's how we made it happen. That's not you don't read that. It's some other marketing guy or some product or some product based guy that figured out something no one else could figure out. You have to consider the source of the information that you're getting. And so we want to be brand agnostic and we want to be we want to be social in as much as we can within the industry so that people can feel like the information they get from us is is doesn't have an agenda or anything else attached to it.
Speaker1: When people hire you, do they sign on for is it a month to month a year contract? How do people work with you?
Speaker2: Well, people sign up with us. We want them to give us at least three months. But after the three months, it's a month to month agreement. And we like that. We want our feet held to the fire every month. We want to make sure that we're providing value every month. I've worked, especially when I was in the point of sale thing where like you had an annual agreement and then like two months before the renewal is coming up, suddenly everyone's very interested. Yeah, right. I've got to make sure they like me.
Speaker1: Ignored me all year long. And now.
Speaker2: Now you're. I work hard all week, all year long. I want to make sure we provide all year long. And if we're not providing value, then fire us. You should and we would want you to. So our our job is to provide value every single month.
Speaker1: Can you tell us any of your clientele? I know probably some of it is confidential, but are there any clients that you can tell us about?
Speaker2: Well, let me just do it this way. I'm very, very protective of that, because a lot of our clients don't don't want us to talk about that. But I can tell you that we work with retailers in 18 countries today.
Speaker1: Wow. That's impressive.
Speaker2: Yeah. And I would say that no matter where retail is, retail is still retail at one point. I was speaking at a conference in Dubai. And you might think retailing over there is like it's the same thing. You know, those guys were like, Yeah, we have too much inventory. I'm like, Yeah, you do. So, you know, we do have I guess, I guess there are some people that probably wouldn't mind, but I would want to ask before I did that.
Speaker1: I totally understand what so you also do.
Speaker2: Well, let me add one more thing. We work with people that are as small as 250,000 a year in sales. So as much as 50 million a year. So it isn't like. And our fees are a sliding scale based upon the scope of work. So we try to make it so that everyone can afford it, I guess.
Speaker1: Because I'm willing to bet there's be a lot of retailers because we have such a big retailer listening base now that I'm willing to bet there's going to be a lot of people that reach out to you because like I said, I think most people have no idea what an open to buy is. And I think that people just go through and buy a lot of times what they like with vendors that they have close ties to because they've sold them forever. And forget how much of it may have gone on sale or but they love the price. And also I think that people and I've done it from time to time to where you buy what you like and then you realize that what you like is not now it's like I literally now I go in with the gift shows and the apparel shows and it's literally like you're buying for a pharmacy, you're buying for pharmacy, like you're buying next to something, sitting next to aspirins and Pepto-Bismol, like you're buying for whatever.
Speaker2: But I, I would say this, you know, if you don't know it, open to buyers or you don't know it and you think you're doing a good job with it, but you're not sure or you want to find out and validate that the first thing we do when anybody who results we must talk about by the first thing I do with them is a completely free thing. We actually evaluate their business because we do. And by the way, the work is on us, not on you. We just have to run a couple of reports out of your system. But we we do a free evaluation to figure out if we work with you. What do we think we could do for you and what's the potential for your business? And the reason is we're a month to month agreement, right? So even if I could say the most beautifully hypnotic Jedi mind trick things to convince you to buy our service. If I don't make you money in three months, you're going to fire me anyway, right? Or. Or us. Because there's more than me. There's a bunch of guys to be smart guys. I'm just. I'm just the pretty face, which is scary, you know. But anyway, so the first thing we do is we, we look at it, we go like, what if someone put a gun to my head and said, Help these people.
Speaker2: What would I do and what would it what's the return on investment? Right. We're the science of the business. You're the art of the business. You have to look at it and go, That caller is right. That brand is right. That look is right for my customers, that kind of stuff, whether it be the science, this is the money that makes sense. This is the the amount of each commodity that you work with. But our job is not just to sort of throw it over to buy it. Our job is to interpret the open, to buy, to make it a living, breathing, understandable document that enables the retailer to have an action plan that they can wrap their arms around and understand. Right. And because we work on a retainer basis, I don't care how many times a month they meet with us, call us, ask us questions, that kind of stuff. We want to be like the uncle you never had who was in the business for a lot of years to tell you anything you want to know.
Speaker1: That's fantastic.
Speaker2: So so that I want if all retailers are listening to think, well, gee, this sounds great, but I don't think I can afford it, or that's scary.
Speaker1: Or that number one thought, I think, you know.
Speaker2: Here's the thing. Don't be scared. Call me up. I'm going to be as gentle. I won't rant like a don't thing today I'll be softer but but the thing is, is that what we will do is we're going to give you insights into your business you didn't have for free. And then if you like it and if you see how it can apply to your business and we and we show you what the possibilities are and you want to go for it. And you tried for a few months. And if it works out great. If it doesn't, you fire us and you go on to do whatever you're doing. No harm, no foul. But we're going to work. I can tell you this. We're going to work harder for you than anybody else you've ever had to work for.
Speaker1: Well, I think, to be honest, if anybody is even thinking about it, obviously they know they need it. I think it's like that. It's an inherent gut feeling. Like I realize I don't know or I realize I have way more that's gone on sale. Or I realize that it's an inherent gut feeling, like I don't care what, like as a retailer, you know, there's something you could be doing better and you are kind of that solution, to be honest.
Speaker2: And even if you don't, how about this? Even if you think you're the perfect retailer and you're doing everything right and you've got a great plan that you're buying your inventory by and you think you're doing anything fantastically. I tell you what, let me do a free inventory analysis and prove you right. And if you're right, I'm going to tell you and I've done it. By the way, there have been people that have reached out to me and said, you know, can you work with me? And I look at their numbers and I go, You know what? What you're doing right now is good enough that there's not enough return on investment to work with me on this thing. You shouldn't hire us. Again, I don't want to hire someone that's going to let us go. We want to build long term relationships. Right? So. So if there's nothing to do, I'm going to tell you, there's nothing to do. If I do think there's something to do, I'm going to tell you exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to tell you exactly how we're going to fix your business. Right. I'm going to show you the exact tools we're going to use to do that with. And then you make a business decision. Yes. I believe what you're doing. I think it makes sense or no, I think they're crazy and I want to do it, but at least you'll know for sure.
Speaker1: So when people hire you and you tell them to do something and they don't do it, what. What's that conversation look like?
Speaker2: It's a lot of me pouting. I cry, I go, Please, I'll pick your item. You know, I think when we ask them to do something, they and they don't do it right. Well, there's there's a lot of facets to that, right. Certainly when we make a suggestion about something. Right, it's usually based on something numeric. So we'll say, look how long you've had the goods. Look at what? Or I watch. What I can think of right now is, is I was trying to get one of my stores to buy into activewear before the pandemic, actually. But especially during the pandemic. But I was trying to get it to buy into Activewear because I knew she could sell it. And I'm like, every month, please buy the activewear. Giving her brands to look at and give her stuff to look at. I'm like, It's selling and you could do it. It's a system that these are the ones that are doing well. I know I should do it. You really should. And so and then she finally did it, and it's like it's killing for her. So I'm blessed. But, you know, sometimes people have an instinct that we don't see. Right. And so they decide to go after something and we have to go like, well, it doesn't make a lot of sense, but if you're going to do it, at least do it this way, right? So at least we give them some guardrails so they don't go crazy off the rails and that kind of thing.
Speaker2: And I want them to be right. I want to be wrong. I'd rather be wrong in those instances. You know, they say, look, I have an instinct, but I believe I could sell more expensive jewelry. Right? I mean, if I don't agree that, I might say, oh, that's but let's try, let's see that kind of thing. And then if it tries and it works, I'm like, God, you're a genius. I love you. And then if it does work, then we go, Okay, well, that didn't work. I still love you. Let's figure out how to get you out of this. Right. You are like so so that they, you know, they have someone there that's that's that they can bounce ideas off of. And, you know, our ideas are not based on personal opinion. They're based upon what we're seeing in the marketplace. Because the difference between me and most retailers is that I talk to ten, 12 retailers a day. Right. So I get to see more of the industry than other people do. And as a result, I get to see what's going on out there more than just whatever colloquial tales they might hear.
Speaker2: So that's that's the basis about what I say to them. But I also, you know, retailers are creative people and they deserve the respect of if they have an instinct for something, someone who's going to support them in that, both in terms of if it goes well, how do we keep it going? And if it doesn't go well, how do we get you out of it and how do we mitigate the risks and some of that? Right. How am I going to you want to go out and you want to do I think you play by more expensive jewelry. And by the way, I believe in more expensive jewelry. I think retailers don't do as much as they could. But but that aside, for a moment, if they're going to go after that, how are we going to pay for it? How are we going to protect ourselves? How are we going to evaluate that it's working or not working? And one of the other things that we're going to do to generate the revenue to cover what could possibly go wrong in all of this or to pay for it if it goes right? Right. I mean, that's my job in this thing is not to sort of go, you shouldn't do that. My job is, how do we do that?
Speaker2: I love that. How do we support that? How do we make that work? Well for people.
Speaker1: So before I let you go, you have to tell me, because in your bio, you've been on Curb Your Enthusiasm and I'm dying to hear about this. We already heard. Now you're sitting on a movie set like but do tell about Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Speaker2: So Curb Your Enthusiasm was looking for a Jewish looking guy who can improvise. And I started, you know, listen, I'm based in Los Angeles, and I think it's a law that one out of three people who lives there has to say they're an actor, so I'm one of them. But yeah, so, so, so I started doing improv theater in New York many years ago, and they were looking for someone who was very Jewish looking who could improvise as a lawyer on curb enthusiasm. I thought, if I don't get this, I'm I'm done. I'm not going to do anything more. Right? So they cast me and and it was really kind of fun. And so, you know, on the very first day I was there, he shoots the scene where he's he says, by the way, the whole show is improvised. You don't know. You don't have lines. It goes, I love it. Wow. You know, anything? So I knew I was being hired as a lawyer, and that's all I knew. So Larry says, okay, in this scene, I'm going to hire you. Okay. All right. So action. And he shakes my hand and he says, Are you sure you're Jewish? And I go, Do you want to check your cut walks off the set. And I'm now I'm alone on the set and the crew is kind of like whispering themselves like, Oh, not good, not good, not good, right? Comes back 10 minutes later and he says, Just say I'm the real deal.
Speaker2: And your show, Larry, you're in charge. So, so so I do. I'm the real deal. And then after every take, he makes the face like as if he just had, like, a bad snarky, like. And before this, you know, you have the thought, Oh, Larry's going to love me. I'm going to be at his house for Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, like, this is what you think in your head. Now he's hating me, and I'm like, Oh. So I go home that night and I say, You know what? I've been doing it for a long time. I can't get thrown by this. Just go and have a great time, you know, and whatever happens, happens. So the next day I walk in and the first person I see is the is the actress who plays Jeff's wife. You know Susie Essman, right. So she says to me, Wow, you really do have that? Alan Dershowitz Look, I know Susie. I grew up on Long Island. Guys like me are farmed like salmon. Right. And then David Steinberg, who was the director, turned to, like I said, yeah, he is funny, see? And from that I was okay. So it's a little bit like prison. You have to cut somebody and then you're okay. So. So but it was a great experience. People to this day still recognize me. Like, you know, you're hardcore comedy nerds recognize me.
Speaker1: Oh, my best friend was like, Oh, my God. Alisa Who does the marketing and the digital? She was like, Oh my God, you have to ask him. That's her favorite show.
Speaker2: Is it? People love that. It's interesting. People either love that show or like can't watch Larry annoy someone. It's a funny dichotomy between the two, but it was a great experience for me and I had a really fun time doing it and everybody that was great. I had a great chance to talk to Jeff for a while. Jeff Garlin And he was fabulous. And you know, the guy that played Funkhouser, you know that guy, he used to be super Dave Osborne. You know.
Speaker1: How do.
Speaker1: Have how do you find time to do your main hustle and then have the side hustle of acting? Because, you know, it is not I've been in the industry and it's not a short day. I mean, it's like it's a lot of stand around and wait.
Speaker2: Well, yeah, the acting is waiting for sure.
Speaker1: Are you, like on your computer doing.
Speaker2: Yeah, pretty much so. Like, as an example, like right now I'm here in Atlanta, right? And I'm waiting to shoot this movie. Um, that I'm excited because I get to sing with Pierce Brosnan. That's pretty cool about that. And my main thing is with Adam Devine, who was in Pitch Perfect and he was on Modern Family and that kind of stuff. So I'm getting to work with some kind of cool people. It's really kind of cool. But acting is waiting. I got here three days ago. I haven't tried anything yet. I'm going to shoot my first thing tomorrow. But she said the actual the the assistant said, we're going to put you into a nice trailer. We know you'll be waiting for a while.
Speaker1: Oh, my God.
Speaker2: So that means I'm going to be my trailer, like looking at people's open to buy plans, writing for them and saying, you need to buy more. They you cut back on that. Why isn't this selling? I'm going to be a retail consultant on set, especially now, because in the midst of COVID in the past, it could be that you would be in sort of a communal area and talk to people. Not anymore. Now we're locked away and that kind of thing. But I hope one of things that does come out of this, too, that people recognize it. I mean, by the way, it's really fun for me to be, I think, stuff, and I really love that too. But I love the retail stuff for me is not work. I really love it. I have fun doing it. So it's not like I said, Oh, I have a meeting tomorrow. And then like I was like, Oh, I can't talk to them. I'm excited to hear what's going on over there. And I love the passion.
Speaker1: So the passion is palpable. I mean, it's I think that any retailer that I talked to that really excels are people that really, really love it. I mean, and, you know, you're going to have days that you're like, don't want to go to work. But honestly, by far and large, like, I think that people like you really love your job. And I think it clearly shows by your enthusiasm.
Speaker2: I do. I love it. You know, in all the things I've done in the industry right now, what I'm doing now in terms of merchandise planning has been by far the most fun and the most challenging in the world. When I was in the point of sale world, it was just sort of like, you plugged some stuff in, you tell them how to do it, and then whether they made it or not, that wasn't up to you, right? It was just sort of you put the tool there when you're in merchandise planning. Right. And I would go and one of my earliest experiences and it was like, okay, well here's your plan and here's what you should do. And this is. And they went, Yeah, but I have no money out if I'm going to be able to pay my rent next month. And I went, Oh my God, I have a much greater now. I have a greater responsibility that I understood. Now I'm responsible for the livelihood of these people and their families. And I take that very, very, very seriously. I love when they struggle. When I when they struggle, we have to figure out how we're going to get them through it no matter what and when they're willing to make sure we keep the winning happening. And so it's a very it's a much more intense game, but it's a it's a super fun game. And retail is a great, great business. And I love retailers. I love the brave nature of someone who says, you know what, I'm hanging, I'm going to hang out my own shit. I'll do my own thing, I'm going to create my own store. And so supporting them and helping them and loving them is what we're all about.
Speaker1: I love that. My last question for you is, where do you see yourself in ten years?
Speaker2: Hopefully not drooling on myself.
Speaker2: All. You know, I'm hoping that I don't sit there and go, What time do we get the fish? I don't want it to be that. Let's say ten. You know what, ten years from now. I hope we just continue to do what I'm doing now. I don't have like a oh, if it could only be this kind of thing. What I'm doing now is, is the ultimate to me. I hope I keep doing it. I want to keep doing it for forever and ever. I have a I started work with a financial counselor who was helping me sort of plan for retirement. And that's the meeting I don't like going to, to tell you the truth, because she's like thinking about, well, you know, when you retire, you're not working anymore. I'm like, What? When I'm not working anymore, yeah, I'm going to look like, How old do you think I am exactly? You know? And she goes, Well, I know how old you are exactly is why I'm telling you this. And I'm like, Yep, but, but, but.
Speaker1: The sad reality.
Speaker2: It's a sad reality because I'm just like, No, I want to be like 90. I mean, I don't want.
Speaker1: I don't know why you want to be able to.
Speaker2: Well, because somebody may go, you know what? He fell asleep in the middle of the meeting. She'll should probably get someone else. I just.
Speaker1: I worry about like. Yeah, because I was in a store that there was an older lady, she must have been 70 or something and she clearly used to be a merchandiser and she's standing in the store and she's all I want to do like this and she's just going off like I turn out something. I said, Oh my God, that's going to be me. I just know it.
Speaker2: So I guess I'm talking about old ways, right? We'll be the ones going, you know, at one point in our day, this is how it all went. And we did this thing and then, you know, we're going to be loud and be like and they'll be like, Yeah, well, we figured out a way to float merchandise without having shelves like they're going to be. There'll be some level of technology we don't understand. We're going to be like, you have to put it on a shelf now, dude, you're too old. Know what that looks like?
Speaker1: Oh, God. Thank you so much.
Speaker2: I want to say one other thing, by the way, because I think it's only fair. Listen, first of all, you have the greatest podcast title ever in the history of podcasts.
Speaker1: Either piss people off or.
Speaker2: Well, yeah, you know what? Good. You know, it's better that you piss them off when they don't stick around and try to please everybody, which is where we are today. Right. But also the work that you do in merchandising is so important for so many stores. And so I listen, I don't have the I that you have to be able to look at a space and go, this would work. This wouldn't work. Right? I'd make it like I'm a math guy. I'd make it in neat columns. What would I know? Right. So people who can't merchandise need you to come in there and make it look shoppable and beautiful and make the store much, much more exciting than it is. So I have great admiration for what you do, Michel.
Speaker1: I just thank you. I you know, I truly love and, you know, I my I always say this just because it looks good. And if it doesn't sell, it doesn't matter how good it looks like. I balance 90% of my work on based on reports and the reports are the reports that you do. And the reports that I look at are if people don't pay attention to those reports, they are missing out. And that's why I was asking you earlier about the people that don't look. It's like I'm in the store every day and it's like, I don't care. Like your numbers are what's going to tell you what is driving the business and what's not. And if you may know what's selling day to day but truly like but I thank you for that because I really.
Speaker2: Question what's your who's your third best selling vendor?
Speaker1: I'll have to bring that up because I mean, everyone can tell you that. And I can see it from having my hands on it and moving it like I know their stock room's like the best because I'm like that weird, dyslexic ad person that is. I'm really good at the memory game, so I know what's in your stock room. I remember what I merchandised last time. But, you know, I don't see, though, the reorders. So it either looks like it hasn't sold or it's sold through three times. But those reports are what tell me all that. So I know based on my shift. So thank you for saying the merchandising is equally as important because I think that.
Speaker2: Well, listen, you know what? If it doesn't if it doesn't look good, no one's going to buy it. We're all going to lose. So, you know, making sure that it's displayed. Well, that looks right on that that there's, you know, and that there's things that go with it on the same display. Right. So that there's a chance for multiple units per transaction, higher average dollar sale, all that kind of stuff. All that stuff is critical. So, you know, there's a lot of a lot of spices that go into the stew of a good retail store. And you and I read that. So so I admire what you do.
Speaker1: I really thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank. And that is a wrap. Thank you all so much for joining me on today's episode. I really appreciate it. And be sure to tune in every Wednesday for more stories and lessons from a life in retail. And don't forget to follow us on Instagram at Retail Whore Podcast, and you can find us online at the retailwhorepodcast.com