Thursday, September 3, 2009

August results.

I was going to write a long and involved entry about the whyfores and wherefores of August sales, but -- really -- not much to say.

Our sales dropped 9% from last August, which is the smallest drop of the year. As I said yesterday, it was a very profitable month. It isn't how much you make, but how much you spend. I've managed to calibrate my orders to a fine point, so that the store functions well and I still make money even at lower sales.

There was one quirky result: for the first time since I instituted 8 product lines on my register, all 8 lines did a minimum of 1000.00 in sales. Usually, at least one category is lagging; lately it's been either sports cards or anime.

But I've been liquidating my anime (buy 2, get another one free), so that boosted sales.

It was my best month ever on boardgames, and just 65.00 away from beating my best ever book sales of last month.

Pretty much all is on track.

I was feeling pretty good about the money I've been able to put aside. Then I did an estimate of how much I would've paid an employee in the same time period -- and it was almost exactly the same amount.

Think about that.

I think it says all you need to know about running a Mom and Pop outfit. If you have employees -- and things like time off and vacations -- chances are you will only make enough to pay yourself a basic wage. If you forgo the employee, you will make a profit but will never have time off. If business increases to the point you start making a profit again, it will be so busy you'll probably need to hire another employee. And so it goes. Frankly, competition usually insures that you can't just make money hand over fist, unless circumstances are unusual -- a fad or a monopoly. And those never last.

I'm going to take a bit of a hit this month, but give myself some time off. I'm hoping to split the difference by closing Sundays and Holiday Mondays. If at least some of the regulars sales I make on Sundays come back the rest of the week, my daily average should be slightly higher. It wouldn't be as much of a hit as actually hiring someone.

I can hope.

But one thing I do know for sure -- I can't work everyday forever.

It will change how I account for things. The daily average will have to supplant the monthly average as my new metric for measuring. I'll have 5 less days in September, for instance.

I'm also hoping that the double digit drops in sales are over, now that we're rolling over on top of the worst year in recent history. Remember, last September was when the shit really hit the fan, so I'm hoping we can at least match those sales, or no more than a single digit decline. I can break even with continued double digit declines, but I'm kind of liking this making money thing....

Even though my extra profit only matches what I would've paid an employee, I'm still patting myself on the back. My usual tendency is to spend whatever money I make, and I avoided that this time. At the same time, I was able to keep the store current and cash flow positive, and well stocked.

So that is still a major landmark in my career.

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