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8 Years, 244 Days

By: John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises.  It is official. As of Dec. 5, Gray Cat Enterprises marks the longest consecutive stint in my background for one place. Gray Cat Enterprises hit eight years, 244 days old on Dec. 5, which now surpasses the time I spent at Little Caesars. It is hard to

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The Basics Of Franchising

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Upon opening their first store, many single-store operators come to an, often premature, conclusion that they are going to franchise. While this may be a noble end-game goal, what is often missing from this proclamation is determining whether or not their concept is “franchishable.”

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Local Store Marketing: Chamber of Commerce

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Joining and becoming active in your local chamber of commerce is an excellent way to increase your store’s visibility within your local business area.  In addition to meeting a number of key local business contacts who can turn into group sales and individual patrons

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Self-Service Kiosks

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Self-service kiosks continue to be a growing trend in retailing and is expected to accelerate over the years.  By the end of 2012, nearly 2 million self-serve kiosks will be in place, and savvy retailers should consider capitalizing on this trend.  This exploding industry

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Local Store Marketing: Employee Recognition

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Looking for a way to invigorate your store staff and sales? Employee peer recognition is often more influential among your workers than achieving actual prizes or monetary rewards.  Developing ongoing peer recognition programs will keep your employees excited about their jobs and their enthusiasm

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Know Thy Customer….Or At Least Be Able to Reach Them!

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. The conversation usually starts like this: “So, do you know your customer?” “Of course, I know my customers, most by name.” “Great, let’s communicate to them that you have a sale this weekend.” “[cricket sounds]” Call me a pragmatist, but this is a typical

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Local Store Marketing: Customer Appreciation Days

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Customer Appreciation Days are excellent ways to attract consumers that have similar backgrounds or interests. Honoring your best customers with a distinctive recognition day is a terrific way to create a “call-to-action” for specific selected groups.  Whether it is for school personnel or administrative

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Relocating A Store

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. The lease is up at your existing location, and the new center down the street is happening. The thought of relocating your business is daunting—when will you find the time and will you lose customers? An important decision faces your brand—do you relocate your

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Merchandising! Merchandising!

By John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs the T-shirt. Spaceballs the lunchbox. Spaceballs the coloring book. Spaceballs… the flamethrower! Kids love it. And my favorite, Spaceballs the Doll — me!” — Yogurt from the movie Spaceballs Merchandising is a critical aspect

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Managing A Retail Real Estate Portfolio

By John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. For the multi-unit operator, managing a retail real estate portfolio is tricky business. Keeping winning stores in tip-top condition—both physically and financially—is the key to long-term success. The best multi-unit operators actively prune their portfolios in a proactive way and overtime, minimize the organization from becoming

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Facility Management

By John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. It was the situation that everyone dreads. Out of the blue, the anxiety-filled request was made—the CEO had summoned me to his office. Thoughts raced through my head—mostly bad thoughts, mind you—of why I was being asked to join him and the COO in an impromptu

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Local Store Marketing: The Business Traveler

By, John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Ah, the glamour of business travel. The security lines, the $8 airport beers, the ongoing game of “how much can I stuff in an overhead bin,” all for the privilege of boarding a bus with wings. Well, this week I passed a milepost of

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Vendor Management

By John Matthews, founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. Aligning your vendors to a common business vision is a daunting task. In many cases, vendors for retail outlets number in the hundreds, if not thousands. How is it expected of the retailer to manage all of them? The key is to take control and focus the vendors

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Local Store Marketing: Charities

By John Matthews, Founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. Some of the local store marketing strategies that I have highlighted over the past year are designed to increase awareness and sales for your brand, others because it’s the right thing to do. Working with charities over a period of time enables you to give back to the

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Business Planning, Part II

By John Matthews, Founder, Gray Cat Enterprises Recently, I had a terrific session with one of my clients on business planning.  I have written articles before on the importance of business planning, but this session resonated with me. What was reinforced to me during our meeting is that no matter how you approach business planning,

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“If It Were Your Money…….”

By John Matthews, Founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. Back in my twenties, I worked for a growing pizza chain, Little Caesar Enterprises, with a career that spanned nearly a decade. Little Caesars, at the time I joined was a 1,300-store, $700 million company and over the first five years of my stint there, had grown to

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G & A Budgeting

John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Hurry, hurry, step right up! It is time to play the game called “G & A Budgeting.” This is the game where heads are counted; budgets are sandbagged and perks are justified. It is an annual ritual that becomes a core tenet in the over

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Local Store Marketing: Retail-To-Retail Bouncebacks

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Budgets are tight, but you need to move top line sales—fast! What is a quick and easy way to expand your customer base? Partnering with noncompeting retailers to help your broaden exposure is a simple, yet terrific local store marketing idea. By crafting a

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Creating A Branding Game Plan

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. What is your branding game plan? Not the branding media schedule—that is just part of it—but rather, your overarching strategic decision-making game plan on all of your branding initiatives? Most advertising managers have a page or two media plan that an agency has produced

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Local Store Marketing: Overcoming Retail Wallpaper

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Ever drive down the road and out of the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse of a 20-foot pink gorilla in a bathing suit on top of a store? That is a retailer attempting to overcome what I call the “retail wallpaper

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Creating An Advertising Plan

By John Matthews, president of Gray Cat Enterprises. As you have probably gathered from reading my other articles, I am a firm believer in planning for success. Whether it is operational excellence, de-branding a store or outlining your procedures and policies, prudent planning creates stronger execution and efficiency. While planning may come second nature to

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Creating A Policy And Procedure Handbook

By John Matthews, president of Gray Cat Enterprises. “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”   – from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. As a small business owner, you may wonder why one would need to get organized from a policy and

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Managing Technology Within An Organization

“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” — From the HAL 9000 computer, 2001: A Space Odyssey When it comes to technology solutions for your business it is easy to get carried away with the latest-and-greatest gadgets and solutions.

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Creating A Company Communications Plan

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate” – from the movie, Cool Hand Luke  Fire. Aim. Ready.  If this is your communications plan…..you may want to read on. Amazingly, many companies do not think about communications—both internally and externally—until it is a

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Half Century Man

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Feb. 11 was a milepost of sorts – I turned 50! As I enter the second half of my life [sic], I look back at the first 50 years with a great sense of pride and exuberance.  I have been blessed with the opportunities

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