MINI SWAP GROUP
What is a Mini SWAP Group?
SWAP stands for Share With A Peer. It is a peergroup of similar retailers from non-competing areas that either all go to the same market or to a retail organization meeting and want an opportunity to meet to share data and information to become better retailers. They also do not want the expense of traveling to different retailer locations around the country so are willing to forego the 2-day meeting with it’s critique of the host retailer’s store.
What is the Purpose of the SWAP Group?
The purpose of the SWAP Group is to help yourself, and the others in the group, do a better job of being improved, more profitable retailers.
The retailer who is a good candidate for membership is one who wants to do better, who knows that no retailer can be great at everything and who is willing and eager to learn from his or her peers.
To sign up,email:
There are NO PERFECT retailers!
The great thing about independent retailers is that they are independent. The bad thing about independent retailers is that they are independent. Many think that no one else can run their business as well as they can - - and they are right - - each store is as individual as it’s owner. However, there are always different and even better ways to do things. It really does help to get some outside perspective to the challenges you face as an independent retailer. This is what a SWAP Group is all about.
No One Knows Everything!
Individually, we all have strengths... and undeniable weaknesses. Everyone has their own "blind spots" -- it's just a fact of life. But together, we can harness the power of collective thinking and combine our strengths, so you can learn how to exceed your goals... and more. Leveraging the support and fresh perspectives of the group, you will thrive in an environment of challenge and growth. You'll acquire the experience, skills, and confidence needed to achieve real progress in your business. And, with an instant and highly valuable support network, you can rest assured that the answers are always there for you.
However, to get the most benefit from you membership, you need to be prepared to be completely open and frank with your Swap Group members, sharing both your hopes and your fears. They won't be able to advise you properly or well if you hold back. This can be difficult for a retailer who is the owner of a business. You are used to making all the decisions about your store. Being part of a group like this means you must be willing to listen to the input of the other members as well as to give your input to other’s problems and issues.
Independent retailers operate in isolation without anyone around who can give their honest, unbiased opinion about a problem, issue, challenge, possible advertising program, etc. It is OK to ask employees but do you really think they will give you an honest answer when you are the one signing their paycheck? You will most likely get positive feedback from them even if they do not think it is a good idea. After all “you are the boss”. This will not happen at a SWAP meeting! The other members do not have a private agenda with your store and will be open and honest with their opinions. They may have had the same issue and can give you valuable feedback about what works, and just as importantly, about what does not work so you do not waste valuable resources.
To sign up,email:
Your membership in the SWAP Group will be personally and financially rewarding. Some benefits are listed below:
To sign up,email:
What happens at a SWAP meeting?
Each meeting is divided into four sections: merchandising, financial, advertising and an open question and answer period. We also reserve time for everyone to ask a question or discuss a problem and get important expert feedback from the other members.
Each member is assigned their own unique number. All data is presented and ranked identified only by numbers so even if the reports should ever get into anyone else’s hands there would be no way to identify who the data belongs to.
To get a sample merchandising report to review,email:
Sales: Since each member has different sales levels we look only at the variance when compared to last year.
Questions for the member with the highest sales increase could be: What have you done differently this year than last year to get that large increase? New vendors? New salespeople? Better salesperson training? Advertising? Etc.
Questions for the member with the largest decline in sales could be: When did you see that sales were doing poorly? At that point, what did you do to try to turn the situation around? What were the results of each of your attempts? Does anyone here have anything they would like to say to this member to help her? Perhaps you have tried something that worked very well and she could try it.
We then continue to go through the report for this classification and then for all the other classifications with the same type of questioning and sharing of information.
A sample report showing financial data is shown below.
A couple possible questions could be:
#6 – What happened to cause your profit to drop from 8.86% to 8.62%? And, what steps have you taken to turn this around?
#8 – What steps did you take to achieve the nice increase in Net Profit from last year?
Aren’t You Curious?
Retailers who have joined peer groups are glad they did. At first you may find it difficult to open up your numbers and operation to outside scrutiny but it will be more than worth it for you and your store.
Following is a quote from a retailer who is a member of a group similar to this:
From Mike G who has a Men’s Big and Tall Store: “We have been involved with our “Retail Community” for the last 5 years. It is a great way to learn and improve our business. We all review how each vendor did in each major classification of merchandise and the store that did the best job gets to explain what he did and why. That includes sales, markdowns, stock turn rate, gross margin and which vendors performed the best for each classification. We do go over our financial information once a year to see how everybody is doing compared to each other. We all share our advertising for the previous season in a round table discussion and we usually come away with lots of great ideas. We are usually the star performer on stock turn rate.
Below is another quote from a member of the Forum Group, a group of preeminent menswear retailers from around the country that has been in existence since the 1940’s:
Tom M. said he "couldn’t estimate the financial impact of the Forum Group because it covers so many functions. The stores share numbers and strategize about issues like marketing, advertising, inventory and staffing policies."
To sign up,email:
The Purpose Is To Help You Improve
The main thing to remember is that the purpose of the SWAP Group is for every member to do better. If that means an 8% loss instead of the 10% loss that you had last year, you are improving. That is the important thing - - to improve. The goal is for everyone in the group to improve. If everyone starts out with a loss, then next year we want everyone to show less of a loss, and the next year less of a loss, and so on, until everyone is showing a profit. On the other hand, if you are operating at a profit, being part of the group can give you the knowledge and support you need to do even better.
We Will Make Sure You Are in A Compatible Group
You will not be put into a group with someone you do not want to be with. There will be a lot of communication between myself and the prospective members before the group is set. If needed, we will schedule one or more conference calls just to be sure. It is extremely important that the group be made up of compatible members so you can build your trust and rapport with each other.
It Will Take Some Courage
It can be very difficult to admit to others that you are not doing great and making a nice profit every year. It is easy when you are at market to reply “fine” or “OK” if someone asks how your business is doing. It is another thing to show your actual numbers to the other group members and let them see how you are really doing. While that may be difficult you need to keep in mind that the purpose of the group is to help each other do better. You do not want to wait until you are really struggling as it may be too late to turn it around. The retail business is always tough. So, if you are not doing well, you are probably not the only one. Remember, the purpose of the SWAP Group is to come together and help each other.
Confidentiality Is Always Important
You may be concerned that others may gain access to your numbers. Many retailers are concerned with the confidentiality issue. No one wants their numbers leaked out to others. There is a confidentiality clause in the agreement to cover this. It states:
Another thing that will be done to protect the confidentiality of each member’s data is that none of the reports have names on them. Each member is assigned a number and all data is shown on the reports identified only by number. That way, even though I know you will be careful not to leave these reports lying around where others can see them, if something like that accidentally happens, no one would have any way of knowing whose numbers they are.
To sign up,email:
There is No Need To Change The Way You Do Business
What if I do not report my merchandise information and expenses in the same manner as shown on the participation agreement? Will I have to change the way I do business? It will be important to report all our numbers in a consistent manner. To that end the participation agreement details what will be reviewed. However, you do not have to change all your records. You may describe an expense differently or have your expenses in a different sequence than shown. That is OK. For example, everyone has payroll. Some may call it Salaries. Some may have just one expense account for all Payroll. Some may break it out by Selling Payroll and Other Payroll, or Owner’s Salary and Other Employee Salaries. That is alright. I will review everyone’s General Ledger Chart of Accounts so we can determine exactly what to review during the meetings.
In the same way, you all have Pants but some may have just one classification for Pants and others may have separated Pants into Casual Pants and Dress Pants. Again, I will review everyone’s classification list so we can all report the numbers the same.
What Happens at a Meeting?
Swap Meeting Agenda
¼ merchandising, ¼ financial , ¼ discuss advertising, ¼ open forum questions
To sign up,email:
How Much Will It Cost To Be A Member?
SWAP Group Fees
1. One-time set-up fee of $700. This is due when the store joins a group.
2. Meeting fee for consultant to prepare all data tables and lead meeting. This is to be paid when data is sent in to TRMA for analysis and preparation of reports.
$500 per member for each of the two semi-annual one-day meetings. This includes a monthly E-SWAP where everyone can continue sharing and getting input.
3. Share of direct expenses. This will be billed after the meeting with payment due in 10 days.
Travel cost of consultant (airfare, hotel, parking, etc.)
Printing & postage for books (to be shared on a prorated basis instead of by store to make it equitable if a store has several people participating.)
Shared meals (to be shared on a prorated basis instead of by store to make it equitable if a store has several people participating.)
All audio / visual equipment for meeting
4. Your personal expense for travel and room
NEW MEMBERS: New members can join only upon a positive majority vote of the existing members.
To sign up,email:
I Want To Join – Now What?
If you want to improve your store and make more money, send an email requesting an application form, complete it and send it in. I will then match up the retailers based on location, and similarities. After that I will contact you with the details and mail you a participation agreement to sign and return along with your payment.
Completing and sending back the Application/Information form in no way obligates you to actually join a group. It is a way to let us know you are interested. That way we can keep in touch with you as the SWAP Group formation progresses.
This is a wonderful opportunity for you to have your own set of personal mentors to help you be more successful.
Do not wait another day. Complete the form and send it back so we can keep you informed of the progress of the groups.
Don't miss out on this great OPPORTUNITY.
You will be sent a Participation Agreement to sign to formally join a group once I have the minimum number of 6 retailers interested.
To sign up,email:
For Email Marketing you can trust
Your privacy is important to us so we never sell or share our email list with anyone.