Services {anchors}

Please don’t think we’re presumptuous when we say we know your needs.

We do.

Because they were our needs, too.

As owners of independent retail stores, we walked millions of miles in your shoes. You don’t need to explain how hard it is to raise a family and run the company and pay the bills and hire and fire people – because the soles of our shoes are still dusty from walking down your road.

Today, we only offer services that we already spent our own money on.

Let’s start talking about your better life.

ORGANIZATIONAL CONSULTING

Generational Transfer Consulting

This is the foundation of all the work we do. A tidal shift is about to rock our nation as Boomers retire and a new generation of leaders takes the helm. Generational Transfer speaks to both generations as you transfer authority, power and responsibility while holding onto your reputation and your relationships. Lawyers, accountants and brokers can manage your current affairs – we’re here to ensure your company’s future. Leave a legacy, keep your sanity.

Analytics

How do you make decisions for your business? Are they based on data, or emotion? Analytics helps you discover and understand your unique historical patterns with an eye to predicting and improving performance in the future. This rigorous 1,000+ question survey gets to the heart of your business and shows you how it stacks up against industry averages.

Discovery

Baseball legend Yogi Berra said; “Any road can get you there, when you don’t know where you are going.” Our Discovery process will uncover the felt need of your customer and provide you with the ammunition necessary to speak and act in a way that turns them on. Truly creative creative direction positions the customer as an active participant in your story.

MBTI® Personality Profiling

Have you ever tried to mix oil and water? Communication sometimes feels the same way. Myers-Briggs personality profiling is the oldest and most accurate measure of the personality differences of people. As a certified practitioner we will work to build long lasting bridges for effective communication… the kind that lasts through years of difficulties.

Organizational Development

We have walked many miles in your shoes. Organizational development is not just a theory we claim to understand, it is the difference between our successes and our failures personally. Make certain the company providing you with OD has done more than just teach their beliefs.

OPERATIONAL CONSULTING

Ask Ms. JonesTM

When you have lettuce stuck to your teeth you’re glad to have a friend who points it out. Customer feedback is real, timely, actionable information. You’ll know exactly what your customers are saying about you, which positions you as a problem solving expert.

Big Impact Sale Events

Our copyrighted 47-point how-to manual is worth its weight in gold. During the last 22 years we have tested and retested high impact sales using three different liquidators (you’d know exactly who we meant if we named them). Turns out they are all about the same: Expensive! Like everything else we do, big commissions are not for us. Our flat fee and your hard work are all it takes to do up to three month’s worth of business in about six weeks.

Computer Conversion

Having dealt with this challenge four times in the last twenty years as a store owner, you can expect real world explanations and results. By thoroughly understanding your organization we will help you make the right choice in software systems and stand with you step-by-step through the transition.

Customer Retention

Abundance is the business word for gluttony. This is a problem that can kill you. Customers have more options than they can consider, with less time for consideration. Once you get them, you’d better keep them! From single store mom-n-pop to Fortune 500, our rolled-up shirt sleeves know exactly how to design systems of customer service that will keep your customers coming back.

Delivery Systems

Is your delivery department an afterthought? Do you simply think “expense” each time you consider making a delivery? If you answered yes to either of these questions we believe you have it wrong! Delivery is a key component of PE (personal experience), and we can help you turn it into a customer-keeping-machine.

Employee Benefits Packages

Too many benefits will make you go broke. Too few benefits will get you lousy help. You can’t afford either of these situations. My experience and expertise will cost you hundreds but make you thousands over the years.

Employee Compensation

Compensation is only one piece of the benefits puzzle. All compensation doesn’t have to be in the form of money. Together we will design the plan that makes people want to work for you, while allowing you to maximize your profits.

Employee Hiring

In small business your name is only as good as the help your people provide. Take hiring seriously. We will demystify hiring processes and attract people who will love your culture and represent your family.

Employee Manuals

Tell it like it is. No legal mumbo-jumbo is required to keep you out of the court room. Great employee manuals say just enough to express your beliefs, while leaving you the independence to do what small business owners do – lead.

Employee Relations

Knowing exactly where we stand is important to everyone. Policy and procedure doesn’t have to feel like a noose around anyone’s neck. We’ll help you express your feelings without giving away the family farm.

Financial Comprehension

Don’t be surprised by your CPA! You don’t need to be a financial expert to run your retail store, but you do need a good grasp of the basics. Each industry has a handful of critical indicators. We help you benchmark your business against these indicators. This is not to rub your nose in what you don’t know; it is to help you learn what you should know.

Grand Opening Planning

The adage says, “As the Grand Opening goes, so goes the store.” I have personally experienced the opening of over 35 locations, and nothing has ever been truer. We will provide you with our 600+ item checklist for a successful launch and work with you step-by-step to complete your event.

Inventory Management

If your inventory is light, you’ll miss sales. Heavy, and your cash flow is strained. One simple question holds the key: would you rather have a warehouse full of product or a bank account full of money? For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this is such a huge problem in family business. We plan real world solutions that properly balance this situation.

Job Descriptions

It’s not my job! Don’t expect people to do what you haven’t explained to them. Together we create levels of authority for your staff which cut the ropes of bondage keeping you tied to your store.

Market Analysis

Sam Walton used to fly around America looking for the right market. We keep you off airplanes and out of the poor house by showing you the best way to win in your market.

Merchandising Management

Having the right mix of merchandise will make or break most retailers regardless of size. Our expertise is in designing product plans that focus on maximizing your profit and protecting your cash.

Mystery Shopping

Not to be negative, but don’t let the guy at the table next to you at the country club tell you how lousy your service is. Find out first if your people are representing your reputation like you want them to with Mystery Shopping, which is also a terrific tool for recognizing those who do go the extra mile.

Procedural Development

When you come to the fork in the road, take it,” is another often repeated quote from Yogi Berra. While we think this is funny, we help you realize you can never successfully run your business without planning. Solid procedures ensure duplicatable results.

Procedure Manuals

Your manual doesn’t have to sound like a boring textbook from a 1950’s ninth grade algebra class. You know, the type of book for filling shelves or starting fires. This mindset couldn’t be further from the truth. Together we will write a procedure manual in the language of the department. If they speak “office-ese” or “the warehouse rap,” so should your procedure manual. This process makes your dreams of spending time with your family a reality.

Retail Management Training

You’ll be amazed how a little tender loving care can change your sales trend. Our program skips the hype, saves the fluff, and busts the BS. Real training for the real world can be expected, including how to know who’s doing their job and how to help them increase their performance.

Retail Sales Training

Sales training is the investment of a business lifetime. Because you are not one of the business owner flakes who believe sales training is a waste of time, we won’t insult you with over-the-top claims. Our system comes from 22 years of growing sales number success. Brain surgery it isn’t. Just the good stuff. Increased average ticket, increased closing percentage and improved customer satisfaction are what you are paying for.

Selling Systems

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and we know quite a few when it comes to selling systems. Most consultants become so grounded in “their way” that they are not capable of using your best ideas. In our world we believe we should serve your vision of your company, not ours. We’ll mold today’s most successful systems to your culture for an outcome that works for you.

Site Selection

“One shot, one opportunity, once in a lifetime, you’d better never let it go…” all come to mind when choosing store locations. Mistakes are mostly not recoverable. Depending on the developer’s sales and traffic projections is hazardous to your wealth. Our research will show you whether Main and Broad is really better than the new strip mall for half the money. A little due diligence upfront makes you millions later.

Software Management

There are actually people who claim they can help you by creating custom programming that only they can change. We believe these hucksters should be run out of town on a rail. For 22 years in retail we used and developed software packages for all they are worth. We believe you should know who you are dealing with and receive a fair, unbiased opinion of their product. This is where we come in. We help you ask questions most dealers never think of. It’s just every minute of your business life. Let us help you make software work best for you every day.

Store Design

The best in the business is Connie Post Companies. They provide affordable design solutions for retailers that emotionally engage each potential customer. Services are delivered with passion, diligence, honesty and a commitment to excellence. While our desire is to hook you up with only the best, we are willing to provide you our expert opinion should you choose second or third fiddle.

Technical Writing

Software manuals, model car assembly instructions, and the first fifty-five steps to playing the triangle are all straightforward. The Lively Merchant removes the curves from your linear language and drafts clear, crisp instructions that every associate or customer can follow.

User Guides

If you’re NOT like most guys, you know there is a real benefit to following instructions. Your user guide should never put the cart before the horse. They shouldn’t argue which comes first, the chicken or the egg. User guides help even the helpless if they will simply follow instructions.

Warehouse Operations/Logistics

Being personally responsible for nearly half a billion dollars of merchandise delivery has shaped our vision. Not theory, but execution and discipline gained in the real world are all you’ll hear from us. The Lively Merchant also uses the world renowned expertise of The Bolger Group. Dan has helped me personally out of more scrapes than many owners will ever face. Don’t save a penny and waste a buck in your backroom. Your customer is unforgiving. Your customer can blog 13,000,000 of her closest friends in five minutes, so why would you risk making her angry?

MARKETING SERVICES

Competitive Analysis

Sun Tzu in the 6th century BC defined strategy as quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions, not merely working through a to-do list. Planning works in a controlled environment, but in a competitive environment, competing plans collide and creating unexpected situations. We work with a variation of tactics to put your business in the winner’s circle, leaving your competitors in the dust.

Differentiation

Quit complaining about Wal-Mart! Give your customer real reasons to choose you instead of them. Are you talking about your differences at every turn? If not, you had better start. Figure out what sets you apart and shout it from the rooftops.

Market Segmentation

Birds of a feather flock together. You had better believe it! How you say something is often more important than what you say. We provide you with the clearest picture anywhere as to why groups of people do what they do.

Media Buying

Buying media is a lot like buying a used car. Everything is negotiable, and it is rarely very fun. Our professional relationships have been built nationwide since 1987 in partnership with R&A Marketing. We have proven time and time again to get our customers more bang for their buck even after paying our fees.

Media Selection

Every media rep claims to have the “right” customers for you. Let’s be transparent: they earn their commission by selling you ad space. We will never take a penny of commission from any media source and because of this we are freed up to provide you only the best advice.

Needs Analysis

If your website isn’t working at least as well as your worst salesperson, you should fire it! Dave Young at Persuasion Pro taught us the three most important questions for site design, and we put them to work every day. Don’t worry, there are no technical geeks within a country mile of The Lively Merchant. Just retailers who speak your language and translate it to the folks on the other side.

Meet Ms. Jones™

Bring the imaginary to life. If you’re still looking at your customer as a demographic profile of maps, numbers and statistics, you’ve missed the boat. We personify your customer right down to the name of her dog, using science and art to bring your demo data to life. Congratulations! You’re now armed to give the right message using the right media to the right customer.

Strategic Planning

All planning had better be strategic or it’s just a waste of oxygen. We help you cut through miles of crap and get right to the heart of your marketing planning. Together we will live the adage that plans produce outcomes. We explore multiple scenarios, we design multiple pathways, and we will plan multiple outcomes. The result means you will know exactly where you are on the map 100% of the time. Priced on a need basis, components include:

· Discovery

· Persona-fication

· Media Day

· Media Selection

· 6-month Advertising Budget

· 6-month Advertising Calendar

MARKETING PRODUCTS

Copywriting and Copy Editing

Did you hear that door slamming? It was the sound of your customer leaving as you promoted product, price and terms over and over and over. Today, your customer wants to hear your authentic story. We can help you discover your story as well as tell it in every form of marketing including brochures and newsletters. We’ll apply the “five Cs” to ensure your content is clear, correct, concise, consistent and comprehensible.

Creative Packages

Imagine the possibilities if you knew exactly how much it was going to cost to design all of your newspaper, web, TV and radio spots! Our Creative Packages provide you with certainty you can hang your hat on.

Direct Mail

You should stand out among all the other screaming businesses in your market. Copying the last letter or post card promotion you saw is rarely the formula for your success. We create compelling copy and graphics that will make your customers respond.

Email Blasts

In-Store and Online Video

Who better than you to tell your story? A combination of creative writing, persuasive writing, video editing and radio elements combine to make a clip that promises to be more interesting than looking at someone else’s vacation pictures.

Persuasive Writing

Roy Williams says, “Other than ransom notes, persuasive writing is the most lucrative writing in the world.” We agree. Persuasion is very different than story telling. We write your company’s need for advertising as a call to action.

Point of Purchase Marketing

Why stop telling your story in your store? Use your branding message, colors and logo consistently throughout your organization on price tags, group tags, brochures, promotional signage, directional signage, sales forms and even on the bathroom door.

Print Advertising

Visual ads must engage the mind and imagination quickly. The newspaper is best for moving merchandise with short-term offers. The impact of your print advertising needs to be at its peak because rarely will you have more than one opportunity to convince the customer using print. Learn how and when to use it most effectively and stop spending money just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Products include:

· Single sheet and broadsheet inserts

· Newspaper and magazine ads

Radio Advertising

Some believed “video killed the radio star,” but we know nothing could be further from the truth. Scientifically, humans are wired to live in their imaginations. Our copy and production techniques surprise Broca. (Look it up, but beware.) Ads proceed directly to the decision making part of the brain. Let us find and tell your untold story. If you don’t chicken out, we know mountains might move.

Television Advertising

Looking like a homemade hokey in your television commercials is not the independent store owner’s badge of honor. Be afraid of a local cable rep whose commission check depends on convincing you otherwise. We exclusively use Final-Cut Pro, the state of the art movie editing software, for each of our customized spots. While vacationing across the country you will not see your spot playing in some other guy’s market. We create each spot one at a time for maximum impact. You’ll be surprised how little it costs to look like a $1,000,000 bucks.

Web

Just because everyone else in your industry “does it this way” doesn’t make it right. Of course, if your only desire is to look like the Joneses, then we will take your money and copy whoever you tell us to. We prefer to discover your untold story, to develop your customer personas, and write compelling copy to all four basic personality types. By using the latest technology we will work to have you king of your mountain faster than you can say, “Shazam!” Products include:

· Website design

· Website content

· Web hosting

· Web posting and maintenance

· Web ads

· Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

· Online shopping

· Online financing

· Product Gallery

· Blogging

Reach out and touch someone, 21st century style. Choose from catchy content, customizable templates or custom designs that are informative, educational or promotional. We do all the work for you, unlike those big national companies that give limited options and make you manage your own campaigns.