Question #2

What do I want to work on first to "Turn on my financial headlights?"

Well, that depends.

What you choose to work on first depends on you, your experience, your familiarity with retail financials, and certainly, your current situation and urgency.

Having said that, let's offer a few reminders. 

First and foremost, available cash is always an owner's primary concern, especially in the short term. You must always have enough cash available to pay taxes, payroll, rent, debts, vendors, etcetera on time. This could mean that your attentikon should first go to inventory management. 

Longer term profits are, of course, essential. But remember, you don't need profits every month, just over time. Learning about managing expenses may be time very well spent. 

A third item that every owner must monitor is debt. Managed right, debt is a friend. But, not contained, debt can be the business' undoing. Become familiar with debt management well before you regret not paying enough attention to it. 

On all of these primary issues, there are ample take-aways throughout The ROI. 

  Making "good business decisions" starts with knowing the language of basic retail finance.

Take these short, 10-question quizzes. See where you are right now.

Know the basics of the P&L?

Take the Profits Quiz!

Know Balance Sheet basics?

Take the Balance Sheet Quiz!

Ready to be a true merchant?

Take the Inventory quiz!

Ready to manage the life blood of your business?

Take the Cash Flow Quiz!

Now's the time.  "Learn It. Do It. Profit From It!"

The quizzes tested your knowledge of the basic language of retail finance.
And may have pinpointed where you need to improve. 
Exactly why The ROI has developed four online training courses!

Each combines a self-paced training course with a retail projecting calculator.
(Plus, an entertaining case study of the I. M. Surviving Company!)
Projecting & Controlling Retail Profits
• Projecting & Controlling Inventory
• Projecting & Controlling Retail Cash Flow
• GMROI Inventory Productivity

Profit & Expense Analysis

To find those profits that are hiding in plain sight, use The ROI's "Bucketizer."
It turns the data on a P&L into management information. And, saves time when you use the projecting calculators. 


Project & Control Retail PROFITS

The ROI's online eLearning Kit - Projecting & Controlling Profits - deals directly with the retailer's day in and day out challenge.  See for yourself, in advance, whether you will have a profit.

Learn This Once - Profit From It Over and Over

It may take you about an hour to work through this eLearning course on Projecting & Controlling Profits. You will learn:

  • how to turn your Income Statement - a bookkeeping and accounting tool - into a useful management tool
  • how to better analyze past results and see "the Big Picture" of where you've been
  • how to use the online PROFIT Forecaster
  • how to know - in advance! - whether a given combination of sales, margins, and expenses would produce a profit

more info

ROI Members have unlimited access

Project & Control Retail INVENTORY

Most retailers have heard of the inventory managing tool "Open-to-Buy." 

But too often, it has been shrouded in mystery. Too complex and/or too expensive. Up until now!

In the Projecting Inventory Buys (Basics of Open-to-Buy) eLearning Kit, you will learn:


  • How to control inventory by managing Sales, Margins, Turns, and On-Order
  • How and why to do an inventory buying plan
  • The four-part formula for inventory buying (also known as "Open-to-Buy")
  • What turnover is, and how to set turnover targets
  • How retail sales seasonality affects inventory buying
  • How to use the BUYING PLAN Forecaster (included, no additional charge) to "automate" your Open-to-Buy planning

more info

ROI Members have unlimited access

Project & Control Retail CASH FLOW

The Projecting Retail Cash Flow Kit shows how to use the basic financial levers in retailing. 

It shows how fluctuations on the P&L (changes in sales, margins, expenses) and changes in inventory turns combine to affect cash flow.

Some call it "connecting the dots". We call it, "Now, everyone will 'get it'!"

What you will learn:

  • How profits (or losses), inventory levels, and cash flow are integrated in a retail business
  • The major variables affecting retail cash flow
  • The basic 3-part formula for cash flow
  • Where the numbers (inputs) for the cash flow formula come from in a retail operation
  • How to use the Retailer's 3-in-1 INTEGRATED Calculator to readily produce and update a fully-integrated retail cash flow projection (based on the sales, margins, expenses and inventory turns you have targeted.)

more info

ROI Members have unlimited access

GMROI Inventory Productivity

The Retail Owners Institute regards GMROI - Gross Margin Return on Inventory Investment - as the #1 measure of inventory productivity.

Now, The ROI makes it easier than ever for you to put this tool to work in your retail operation.


  • the formula for calculating GMROI
  • how and why to use GMROI
  • how to use The ROI's GMROI Calculator
  • how to project GMROI for your operation
  • how to use GMROI to improve the productivity of your inventory.

more info

ROI Members have unlimited access

Retail Expense "Bucketizer"

Where are your profits hiding?

The typical accounting package lists expenses in alphabetical order. From Advertising, to Auto Expenses, then Bank Charges, and so on. Lines and lines of separate expense items, all detailed to the penny. How useful is that?!

But, there IS a simple trick that will let you make sense of all that data: simply re-organize the individual expenses on your P&L into 5 "buckets" of expenses.

That simple step transforms all that accounting data into management information. At The ROI, we call this process the PROFIT Finder! 

Go here to use The ROI's Retail Expense "Bucketizer." It's free!

Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"