Cindy Monroe finds the opportunities in adversity at Thirty-One Gifts

“It’s an investment. Just like any other initiative, you do your ROI and you look for how long this is going to take,” she says. “And with the growth that we will be able to tap into for not only Texas, but also other states out west, we do feel like it’s going to be a really good investment for us,” she says.

Both the Ohio and Texas facilities have space to host sales events with some of its top-level consultants, something it wasn’t able to previously do.

Rally together

This past year isn’t the first time Monroe has had to let employees go. During the revenue decline, Thirty-One went through a few rounds of layoffs to decrease expenses. Monroe and her team also found ways to increase productivity because, when the company was growing rapidly, they didn’t have time to focus on those efficiencies.

The company increased its units per hour, tightened its operational processes and worked smarter. Monroe says Thirty-One went back to some of its key vendors to ensure the company was getting the best prices in areas like shipping and software licenses. They took a close look the products themselves, examining things such as zippers and the material that pockets were made of, while improving call center efficiencies with new software.

In addition, Thirty-One worked on its product planning efficiencies, buying inventory differently.

“Whenever you slow down, you have to get tighter on what you’re ordering,” Monroe says. “We also shifted, which I think all of retail shifted, being OK with running out of a few items.”

A data warehouse system helped the company measure which products were selling in which regions of the country.

“We were able to buy our inventory better, and that is huge,” she says. “Our inventory is one of our No. 1 expenses.”

Today, some of the direct sales consultants use the scarcity of items as a marketing point: Get the product now before it runs out.

“We had a couple of years of decline, so we definitely rallied together as a team and we’re able to right-size the business, right-size our expenses — very difficult things to be able to do when you’re in a decline,” Monroe says.