9 Signs Your Store is in Trouble

Are You a Frog? Warts and all?

If I were to ask you: Are you a frog? Warts and all? I’m going to guess that your immediate response is: “NO! And I don’t have any warts!”

But are you sure?

We all know the story about the frog and boiling water.

It goes that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will jump out immediately. The frog recognizes that a pot full of boiling water isn’t conducive to a long, happy and peaceful life.

However, if you put that same smart frog into a pot of cold water sitting on the stove, turn the flame on low and slowly bring it to a boil, then you get a different outcome. The frog will sit in that cold water and not notice the slowly changing temperature until it is too late and the little guy can’t jump out, and becomes frog soup.

But what about the retailer and boiling water?

I have spoken to many retailers that are just like those frogs – because they don’t realize they’re sitting in hot water until it starts to boil.

You don’t buy a business that is bleeding money.

You don’t start a business with the intention of not being able to pay yourself what you are worth.

You don’t plan to pay vendors late.

You don’t lay in bed at night thinking, “I can’t wait to open my own store so that I can lay in bed at night worrying about how there is no cash flow.”

You would never intentionally jump into a pot of boiling water. You are too smart for that.

What I see happen to many very smart people, like you, is that one day they FIND themselves in boiling water.

It never happens overnight.

I know. It happened to me.

Sales weren’t what they should be and cash got tight. My mentor told me that it takes 18 months to cash flow out of one bad season. Well, what if you have 2 in a row?

The water in my pot was SO HOT!

Every retailer’s hope springs eternal. We are all sure that the next season (or month or week or vendor) will be fantastic and we will make up the difference then!

But it didn’t happen for me.

Ultimately, I had to take on additional long term debt and make some big changes in order to not die in that rolling boiling water. It led me to my life’s work – which is to keep other retailers out of hot water!

What about you? Is your water getting a little too warm? I don’t want you to be oblivious to the slowly rising temperature in your store… which is your pot!

I have put together a list of warning signals cautioning you to make a change now before you become frog soup:

Your store is in hot water if…

  • You owe the state or federal government for past due sales or income tax
  • Your staffing stays the same each month independent of sales forecasts
  • You make advertising and marketing decisions based on cash flow
  • You are paying off last season’s invoices with this season’s sales
  • You don’t know how much you owe on your credit cards
  • Your rent is more than 10% of your sales
  • On last year’s taxes, your cost of goods was more than 55% of your sales
  • Over half of your inventory was received more than 60 days ago
  • Last year, your paycheck was less than 10% of your store’s sales (net of sales tax)

There are very few exceptions to the above list.

And I know how easy it is to be quick to make an excuse for yourself – Our friend the frog could have blamed the weather for the temperature change, too!

If it seems hotter than it should be, then take action.

Jump out of the pot!

Fun Fact:

According to Snopes.com, this is an urban legend:

“The fable is also used by moralists as a cautionary tale warning against the folly of letting smaller wrongs just slip by or of falling into a pattern of small and seemingly harmless sin rather than disturb one’s complacency enough to address these issues, thereby allowing the evil to grow into a powerful force. When used in this fashion, those being regaled with the anecdote are being cautioned again… finding themselves to be the frog engulfed in a deadly situation.”

Now there is the truth! That IS what I am doing.
Join the RETAILMavens Coaching program to not just get out of the pot, but learn how to turn off the stove!

5 Comments on “9 Signs Your Store is in Trouble”

  1. To jump out of the pot for me would be more challenging. I own my building & hoped it would provide retirement income someday. I rent out half currently which covers all but exorbitant property taxes. That’s what pushes us over the edge at the end of each year. Things are a struggle but I have no idea how to jump out of the pot. Maybe you can do an article on that down the road.

  2. I SOMETIMES DO FEL LIKE A FROG. I am at the point of selling my business and it is scarry to look at the numbers.
    As you have to answer some really tough questions as you face all the questions of selling. And hopefully to convince a potenitial buyer that they can make money in this business.
    I know I have made money and I have invested it back into the business and taking many courses over my 40 years of work. I am looking for some answers…guidelines. I have finished my taxes and am now getting the place ready for the realator to come in. It is lots of work as my home is in half and THE Spa the other half.

  3. Geraldine – deciding to jump out of that pot is scary – even thinking about it is scary. I understand. We help retailers through that process all the time. Reach out if you’d like to set up an appt to discuss your situation. You do have options! You shouldn’t feel trapped in that pot!

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