Low-Tech Notebook Beats High-Tech Business App

Apr 29, 2014 | General

On to another topic: When I say “I love The Notebook”, I don’t mean that tear-jerker of a movie. This is a different notebook that I think you’ll come to love too.

Recently I was talking to one of you and mentioned the value of using a notebook to keep track of daily events that pop up in your business. Then I realized that this was one of those little business tips that I had learned years ago, and hadn’t shared this technique with all of you. So here you go:

This little technique is easy, but it’s invaluable in evaluating your sales and customer traffic long after it’s happened. I learned this from a card and gift retailer in southern Ohio over 20 years ago and it still works great.

This owner would take a spiral notebook with lined pages (just like what we used in high school), and place it between his two registers at his store. He then wrote the month and the year on the front cover of the notebook. He then instructed his employees to write down any significant comments from customers, thoughts the employees had during the day, and any other events that occurred that might have caused sales and customer traffic to increase or decrease. Some of the employees’ written comments might include:

“Large tree fell across the road when lightning struck this morning. The big storm and the tree kept people away from the store all day until 2:00 when customers started coming in.”

“First day of sun today after weeks of grey clouds. Customers are coming in smiling and happy, and buying lots of Valentine’s Day gifts. The new items from Hallmark are great.”

“3 days before Mother’s Day and already we are out of Mom, Mother, Mother from Both of Us, and From your Husband cards. Really under ordered last year.”

As you look at these little notes and quick observations, they might seem inconsequential. But they provide a daily glimpse of the events that occur every day in a store that can influence whether customer traffic is up or down, and whether sales are truly maximized.

This retailer would post a new notebook between his registers every month, and at the end of the month, collect them and file them. Then, when he was doing his sales projections, looking at his year end sales, ordering for the following year, or just trying to understand his current store situation, these day-to-day notations could provide valuable information on why the store was up or down in sales, and what to do better the following year.

Sure, this notebook is pretty low-tech compared to the multiple organizational apps that you could download into your iPad, but in this case, the simple solution is the best one.