Cash flow, employees, events, sales budget and stock are the five key threads I manage to deliver the profit I want from my business. The business is Martins of Castle Cary which started its life as a high class grocers in the 1800’s and I have echoes of this legacy in the way I operate the store today. While I have to compete with the Co-op and McColl’s who have stores a little way down the street from mine, they are both convenience stores.

The areas that make Martins different are our serve over deli and wide range of grocery and fresh lines. To source this wide range my business has a large number suppliers and of course this does add to the management challenge. Here’s a look at the five threads:

Empowered staff with flexible rostering: My employees are my biggest investment at around 7% of the stores turnover. Fortunately the majority of my team have been with us for many years and fully understand what they need to do. I ensure that my staff know what I want them to do  and give them the authority to do the job I ask of them. I then ensure that I have the right number of staff to serve the expected customer numbers and the tasks needed to keep the store functioning.

A stock order and delivery calendar: I have EPoS tills and back office computer that captures all our sales information. I have a leadership team who have responsibilities that include replenishment ordering. I have developed our ordering cycle to make best use of our suppliers terms, minimum order value and credit period. Christmas and Easter season buying brings with them the two peaks of the year in invoice values. My plan is to get the stock delivered that allows me to pay the suppliers after we have sold most of the stock.  This strategy minimises the impact on cash flow.

Cash flow management and forecasting: Soon after my wife and I took over Martins I developed a spreadsheet to help me manage my cash. I update the information on a daily basis so that I always know my current and future cash position. The spreadsheet is a forecast for the next 12 months and I can see when big payments are due and when my business will have minimum as well as maximum liquidity.

Sales and cost budgeting: I am in business to create profit and use my sales and cost budget to measure how the business is performing on a week by week basis. I hold weekly  meeting with my category leadership team and discuss our performance against my forecast. The key purpose of these meetings is to celebrate success and investigate weaknesses. Identifying and dealing with problems quickly means that any shortfalls can be rectified. It works for me.

Event management: We all know about the seasonal sales opportunities like Valentines Day, Easter and Christmas, but there are plenty of others that that happen. Last year we had the Olympics, the Queens Diamond Jubilee and the atrocious weather. This Summer it’s hot with all the opportunities that offers like cold drinks, ice creams and barbecue. I am always on the lookout for these events so that my business can maximise the chance to increase sales and profit.