Three retailers share the valuable lessons learned from making mistakes

They say the best lessons come from making mistakes. The Better Retaiiing team finds out the most valuable mistakes retailers have made in their careers

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Dan Brown

Lothian Stores, Musselburgh, East Lothian

“I think probably the biggest mistake I made was when I was starting out and I was trying to do too much myself and not delegating more tasks out to other people. There have been times in the past where I’ve not delegated enough and I’ve ended up burning myself out as a result.

“Since then, I’ve learned what I’m able to achieve myself and I’ve ultimately been able to get a lot more done by utilising the team around me. I now spend more time trying to develop the team and we delegate things a lot more. We now have different team members responsible for different areas of the store. And now they’re developing new people. There are people who are now in leadership positions and delegating themselves.

“It’s driven growth in sales and profits, and new concepts and projects have been developed. Everything runs a lot more efficiently now.”

Hitesh Modi

Londis BWS, Chesham, Buckinghamshire

“I like experimenting and buying new things for the store. When the disposables craze started, there were so many varieties flooding the market. I used to get everything I could get my hands on, every brand that was out there. But I soon found that only certain products were actually selling and I was being left with a lot of unsold stock as interest in them fell away.

“So, now, I’m only stocking Lost Mary, Elfbars and Blu from Imperial. I’ve seen a sales increase since and the customers are happier. If I’m buying paint and there are five different shades of white, I’m going to get confused, and it’s the same with vapes. It’s been very rare for someone to come in, ask for a brand we don’t have and then walk out. They’ll try what we have and come back again for it. Our range is still big, but it’s in terms of flavours rather than brands. There are people offering sale or return, but it’s just such a headache.”

Raaj Chandarana

Tara’s News, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

“For me, the big one is the need to evolve or die. I think there’s a constant fear of investment where you decide you’re not going to do something because you have this fear about the economy or your own personal circumstances. But then you have to deal with the consequences of falling behind.

“Every time we’ve gone to do something, we’ve had reasons not to do it and sometimes we haven’t. Now, I try to be less overly cautious because you need to make changes. Having said that, if I’d made the 120,000 investments I’d thought of, I might not have gotten all my returns back.

“The other mistake is making decisions on accountants and EPoS providers based on other people’s recommendations. They’re important, but not as important as actually focusing on what would be right for my business and the way I operate. It’s about looking at your own needs and wants as a business.”

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