Ci7 Education: Small Acts for Financial Gain [5]

The “Operations & Finances: Small Acts for Financial Gain” education session at the seventh annual Children’s Institute [7] in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, taught booksellers about some of the little things that can be done every single day to boost a bookstore’s bottom line.

Booksellers can watch a full video of the session on ABA’s Education Resources page [8] (a BookWeb username and password are required; e-mail info@bookweb.org [9] for login credentials).

The Thursday, June 27, session [10] featured bookstore panelists who have effectively pinched a penny here and saved a penny there speaking about how to identify small costs that add up; where to look for savings; and small actions booksellers can take to impact overall savings and sales.

The panelists included Adlai Yeomans, co-owner of White Whale Bookstore [11] in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Katie Orphan, manager of The Last Bookstore [12] in Los Angeles, California; Ariana Paliobagus, owner of Country Bookshelf [13] in Bozeman, Montana; and Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong Books & Music [14] in Millerton, New York.

First, panelists discussed tips for cutting down spending in-store and other store hacks.

Keep an Eye on Expenses

  • Phone and internet bill (every few years call up the phone company and make sure you’re getting the best deal)
  • Get an itemized point-of-sale bill (are you paying for services you don’t use?)
  • Spending on frequently used items 
  • Source office supply products (you may find it cheaper through another company)

The Side(line) Hustle

  • Sidelines are good because you can control the price
  • Be aware of discounts and bargain sales
  • Take advantage of free freight, show sales, and other discounts
  • Ask for free samples of sidelines
  • Bring in some high margin sidelines (unlike books, if you run out you can always wait for bargain sales to restock)

Next, panelists discussed how to avoid unnecessary time-wasting activities while operating your store.

 Time Hacks

  • Plan ahead (every bit of time you take planning saves a proportionate amount of time later)
  • Make appointments with yourself (if you miss the appointment, reschedule it on your calendar)
  • Try not to reinvent the wheel

Educate Yourself

  • Take advantage of ABA education (review the Wi14 session How to be a Highly Effective Bookseller, Manager, or Buyer [15] for helpful tips)
  • Join a bookseller discussion group
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • A little planning and learning on the backend will save time on the frontend

After that, booksellers discussed whether and when advertising is worth paying for.

Using the Media

  • Most of the time it doesn’t pay to shell out money for ads
  • Try to get features in local media (earned media)
  • Partner with local tourism groups to suggest your store as a stop
  • Try cross-promoting with partnered organizations
  • Social media marketing (sometimes a Facebook boost is worth paying for)
  • If you have a relationship with a local newspaper, see if you can get a discounted ad

Then, booksellers discussed how to make the most of publisher relationships as well as other publisher tips and tricks.

Ask Publishers About...

  • Book fair accounts 
  • Indie partner programs to get better terms
  • Call tags for larger scale off-site events (always before, never after)
  • Ask for drop shipping for off-site events
  • Special event discounts (certain publishers have special deals for events if the book is the ticket. Only order as many as you are certain to come.)
  • B2B sales can get better discounts
  • Other available promotions

Finally, booksellers discussed expenses that are actually worth not cutting corners for.

Things That Are Worth Investing In

  • Price gun
  • Laminator
  • Book-based POS system (more expensive than general POS systems but better for inventory management and reorders)
  • Staff
  • Payroll